Ealing and Northfield Uncategorized

Acton Central gets 3rd worst roads deal

Spencer Road

This picture shows Spencer Road in Acton Central, again with patches. Again you might think that Acton Central would have had some money spent on its roads under the last three years of a Labour administration. It also has three Labour councillors. The answer is no. Again. It has had nothing spent on its pavements in three years. In three years one road has been resurfaced. Essex Road at a cost of £72K in 2011. Nothing spent in 2012. Nothing due to be spent this year.

Acton Central is getting the 3rd worst deal on roads in the Borough.

Ealing has spent £12 million on its roads in the last three years so on average you might expect Acton Central to get £522K. Acton Central has had less than one seventh (14%) of its share of Labour’s much reduced spend on roads.


Labour lying about the Burnham Challenge (again)

All political parties in Ealing have been working together to fight the closures of four local A&Es. It is hard to work like this sometimes when your fellow campaigners are prepared to tell lies about you.

Labour leaflet 7-4-2013Today a Labour leaflet dropped on to my mat. There is a piece on the hospitals campaign but towards the end it goes horribly off message. Labour says:

Labour supports the campaign to oppose Tory Hospital closures and will continue to fight for local people.

They clearly fear the Conservatives locally as they don’t bother mentioning the LibDems and think it is somehow insulting to refer to my party as Tory rather Conservative. They really believe in the power of words these people.

The last bit is fine – it doesn’t differentiate Labour as all of the local parties are on the same page on this issue. The first bit is the lie. The reconfiguration is arguably a Conservative/Liberal Democrat one in that the doctors and the health service bureaucracy proposing the Shaping a Healthier Future proposals are publishing them and consulting on them whilst Coalition government is in power. But, the whole exercise was kicked off under the Labour government and is often referred to as the Nicholson Challenge. The idea of the Nicholson Challenge is that in order to be able to provide new services in an era of constrained overall health service expenditure, existing services need to take £20 billion of savings out of their existing cost base. Hence the slightly confusing situation where the government says it is protecting health spending (and it is) but services are changing anyway. I would argue that Labour’s Nicholson Challenge policy was sensible, and indeed the Coalition has accepted it, but that the response to Nicholson chosen in North West London unfairly impacts our borough and a more equitable solution needs to be found.

Ironically Labour have used this picture in their leaflet. It dates back to the 2012 London Mayoral campaign and was taken on a day when both Ken Livingstone and Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham visited Ealing hospital. Of course it was Andy Burnham as Health Secretary who instigated the Nicholson Challenge which might usefully be called the Burnham Challenge. So Labour are calling their own policy “Tory hospital closures”. How easily they lie.

The MP for the Southall half of the Ealing Southall constituency has been peddling this lie since the general election. Sharma knows it was a Labour policy but still he carries on.


Labour’s third rise in parking charges

20130228_124144Amidst all the headlines today about benefits changes coming into force there will be another change here in Ealing today that will hit all of us in the pocket.

For the third year running Labour will increase parking charges in the borough. For four years the previous Conservative administration froze these charges. The Labour administration has set out to double its income from these charges as a part of its efforts to add £10 million a year to the fees and charges it collects from the public.

From today parking permits in the 2/3 hours zones will be £50. For four years they were £25. They have doubled (100% increase) in three years.

From today parking permits in the all day zones will be £80. For four years they were £45. Again they have almost doubled (78% increase) in three years.

Hourly visitors’ vouchers in the 2/3 hour zones have gone up 50%. They were 40p for four years. Now they are 60p.

It is a lot worse in the all day zones. They used to get 3 hours for 40p. Now it is 60p an hour. A 350% increase. The all day visitor’s vouchers were £1 for four years. They have gone up 350% to £4.50.

These charges far exceed the cost of administering and policing the controlled parking zones. By the time the council has finished it will have at least doubled its income from these charges. In just the first year of Labour’s rises income from parking charges rose 43%.


Jonathan Portes is missing the point

I wasn’t very impressed with the Radio 4 Today programme wheeling out Jonathan Portes, Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, this morning essentially to spike David Cameron’s guns before his speech today on making it plain to immigrants that they can’t expect to get something for nothing if they come here.

Essentially Portes said that the average immigrant was less likely to be on out of work benefits than the average person who was here already. That may be true but Portes was being disingenuous. My city, London, is full of capable, talented immigrants and they are very welcome. One of them is my American wife. If they help us to fix our economy that is fine by me. But, we cannot afford any more people in this country who think that work isn’t for them. Ian Duncan Smith has been leading efforts to ensure that work pays and that people will always be better off working than being on benefits. We can’t afford to import more people who are essentially content to be dependent even if on average immigrants are less dependent than the settled community.

The big picture is that our state will spend about £720 billion next year, but income will only be £612 billion leaving a deficit of £108 billion. The biggest slice of spending is social spending at £220 billion. Cameron is focusing on the right priority and Portes is missing the point.


Southall TV coverage of Ealing NHS march 15th September

National politics Uncategorized

Clegg forgets that high earnings are just a phase of life

Nick Clegg, the LibDem leader has “kick started a debate” about higher taxes for middle earners and got himself into a terrible pickle. In attempting to play the Occupy game Clegg has tried to draw a line between the top 10% of earners and the 90% of the country that earn below £50,000 with his cute line about starting at the top not the bottom. However much he talks about Russian oligarchs and mansions the only way to pull in large sums is to tax a lot of people. This means taxing middle earners more.

The Daily Mail says that:

With the nation facing its longest period of belt-tightening since the war, the Deputy Prime Minister said the ‘top 10 per cent’ – around 3million earning more than £50,500 – should brace themselves for new levies.

As ever when the left, of which Clegg is merely a slightly less soggy part, draws this line it forgets the lifecycle of the majority of high earners: they start off as children, work hard at their education for 16 or more years and in junior roles for another 5 to 10 years before they start to earn decent salaries in their early thirties. This period might come to an end in their late sixties and then they will have a reduced income in retirement. A high earner might only be a high earner for a half or one third of their life. They might also very often have a child-rearing partner who is never a high earner. They might have children who don’t want to be on the high earning track.

If Clegg thinks he is drawing a dividing line between the many and the few to his electoral advantage then he is a fool. People in high earner families, and those that aspire to high earning, are a lot more like half of us than 10%. Clegg wants to tax aspiration and hard work.

It is worth remembering that the top 10% of earners in this country already pay over half of all income tax.

Clegg really didn’t think this one through. If he wants a debate he can have one but he won’t win.


Parking danger zones – July

For the last three months I have been keeping track of the parking tickets given out by the Borough, see April, May and June. Since I last wrote on the subject of parking tickets the council has released their July data. You can see the data published by the council here.

For comparison the council gave out 197,302 tickets in the 2011/12 financial year (see Annual Report here). I have multiplied the monthly totals by 12 to give the equivalent yearly rate and divided that by last year’s total number of tickets issued to give an idea of the proportion that one road feature or offence represents compared to the whole borough.

In July there were 8 sites that generated more than 200 tickets in the month, some 17.7% of all tickets issued in the Borough.

Again all top 8 sites are CCTV enforced and 4 out of 8 sites are bus lane sites. Altogether these 4 high volume bus lane sites generate over half of all bus lane tickets in the borough.

The Otter Road box junction is getting out of hand with 800 tickets in July. This number has been going up every month for four months and now almost 5% of all tickets in the Borough are given out at this one site. Some comms work needs to be done to knock back this number.

April: 652
May: 704
June: 750
July: 800

If all these tickets were paid at the 50% (which is on average what happens in practice) this one box junction is worth £624K to the council. I will be asking officers what is going on here. Maybe the leader of the council in whose ward it is will want to do some asking too?


God save the Queen!


Do it now!

Talking of choosing, you only get to choose if you are registered to vote. The deadline is Wednesday 18th April, more here. Similarly for postal votes or changes to postal votes. Do it now!

Ealing and Northfield Uncategorized

Dr Sahota should stop misrepresenting local NHS changes

I have only just seen this letter in the Gazette
from Labour’s Dr Onkar Sahota, their candidate for the Ealing & Hillingdon GLA seat. It didn’t make it into the Ealing & Acton version that comes through my door which maybe reflects the Gazette’s calculations about the attractiveness of this candidate outside Southall.

If Sahota was some journeyman, hack councillor he might be forgiven for completely twisting the facts around the currently proposed re-structuring of health services in our area. But he isn’t. He is a doctor. It is his colleagues who are proposing this re-structuring. It is “clinically led”. I don’t think he is helping his patients in the long term by slagging off his clinical colleagues on the other side of the purchaser-provider divide.

Sahota really starts lying when he talks about “Tory cuts”. The NHS is one area where the Coalition are committed to not cutting. Increasing NHS spending in real terms is spelt in the Coalition Agreement:

The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments.

The £20 billion of cuts that Sahota is alluding to and the equally mendacious Southall MP, Virendra Sharma, has specifically referred to are no such thing. They are savings. The distinction is important. The £20 billion is to be re-invested in NHS services. This whole exercise is the so-called Nicholson Challenge. It pre-dates the Coalition. It is an attempt to make the NHS more efficient so that it can do more for the same amount of money in real terms. Note – not more for less. Just to stand still the NHS has to run much faster.

I am open minded about what local clinicians propose for local services. They have to make it work. I would like to see Ealing Hospital being efficiently used to provide services for local people. I am glad to see clinicians at the forefront of designing future health services here in Ealing.

Sahota is lying when he talks about cuts. He knows the difference. If he wants to call this exercise cuts he needs to call them Labour cuts because they were set in train under Labour. People expect more of doctors.