I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break and are looking forward to the first year since 2013 without any scheduled elections.
That doesn’t mean we won’t still be out campaigning and talking to residents about the issues that matter to them – far from it. We’re the kind of local Party that is in touch with people all year round, regardless of any upcoming votes.
As we work towards the 2018 elections, we are holding a borough-wide consultation with members and the public about our manifesto. A number of discussion documents are available to look at on the Ealing Labour website, along with a short questionnaire to feed in your ideas. Take a look and have your say at www.ealinglabour.com/manifesto2018
My final meeting of 2016 was Full Council, where the Tories once again showed what a pointless and ineffective opposition they are. Their motion attacking Sadiq’s TfL fares freeze was, essentially, a re-run of the arguments we had in May when London voted – and we know how that turned out.
I made a speech defending Sadiq’s promise to freeze TfL fares, and attacking the appalling record of broken promises from the previous Tory Mayor. Every time he promised not a penny of public money would be spent – on the cable car, on the garden bridge – he funnelled public cash into the project. Helpfully for my argument, it had been revealed a few days earlier that not only had Boris wasted money on water cannon that are illegal to use, but he’d spent £1,000 fitting CD players in them! Thank goodness he’s nowhere near any position of importance these days…
This week we also had OSC, where we had an update about changes to legislation following the Housing and Planning Act last year. The short update is that the government is taking its time deciding whether or not to actually implement the powers it now has on a wide range of topics – from bringing in so-called ‘starter homes’ (up to £450,000 in London) as part of developers obligation to provide affordable housing, to ‘flexible’ tenancies that would fundamentally change social housing.
We have previously had the power to introduce ‘flexible’ tenancies for new council tenants, but we have rejected this in the past in favour of offering lifetime secure tenancies as they are. Now it’s likely the government – under the guise of the ‘Localism Act’ will force councils to offer time-limited tenancies only. These would be a minimum of two years, and could be renewed – but remove the certainty that tenancies currently bring for those in social housing.
As yet there’s also scant detail on how the government will implement the forced sale of high-value council housing, and how we will be compensated for losing some of our most valuable housing stock, but ministers have indicated they will be pressing ahead with this in some form.
Finally, the beginning of the month saw the Council’s new landlord licensing scheme come into force. In Acton all landlords must be registered, and we hope the policy will lead to an improvement in the private rented sector – reducing anti-social behaviour like fly tipping and dumping associated with poorly managed tenancies, as well as bringing up the standards of properties on the market.
South Acton news
The terrible fire at the Aeronaut just half an hour into the new year takes one of the ward’s best loved pubs out of action. Thankfully, quick action by the staff meant no one was seriously hurt, and a number of people were rescued by officers from the police station next door rushing into the burning building to help. I’m really pleased to hear that Laine’s are keen to get the pub back in action as soon as they can, and have redeployed staff to other pubs so they can keep working and earning in the meantime.
Our next ward forum is on 22nd March – if there’s a local project you think could do with our support, or an unloved bit of the ward that could do with an injection of cash to spruce it up, let us know. The ward forum can recommend all sorts of projects to improve the ward so we’d love to hear your ideas.