Over the past decade many Councils, including Ealing, increased their annual spending by a large amount, meaning that now they are having to cut back.
I said a year ago that Ealing Council will be judged by the types of cuts they are making and whether there are any vulnerable groups who will suffer.
It is time to assess how Ealing residents have fared.
Initially Labour made commitments about proposals to hugely reduce the number Park Rangers and enviro-crime officers, as well as cutting the policing budget, closing a number libraries, day centres and care centres.
A number of these measures look to make savings in the short term. But Ealing Council needs to do more and think longer term, beyond the next local elections in 2014.
One example, where short term thinking occurred, relates to the Acton Regeneration of the Town Hall and the Priory Community Centre. When the community centre is converted into a school there are many user groups who seem likely to have no local accommodation to run their services from. If the Council had delayed one part of the project they could have given the user groups a place to stay during the conversion period.
In the last six months the Leader of the Council has talked about the need to make cuts but very few have been discussed in Council meetings. If budgets are needed to be reduced, then you have to accept that and focus attention on how to help the most vulnerable or in need.
Quite simply that must be the priority.
Residents feel that in the first six months, Labour-run Ealing Council has made many cuts affecting vulnerable groups badly. Some initiatives take longer to bear fruits and in the past few months very few budgetary changes have occurred. This means that potentially more severe cuts will be made without a proper and full discussion with the public.
Liberal Democrats believe that every pound spent should have been reviewed on day one of the administration to see what services are needed, which could be altered without having any negative affect and where large re-organisational changes are needed they should be planned properly. More proactivity is needed.
A Liberal Democrat Ealing Council would not have spent £5.5 million on a car park that wasn’t needed. We would not blame others for the mess we are in. We would get on with the task in hand, prioritising and protecting members of our community who are the most vulnerable or in the most need.
Councillor Gary Malcolm,
Leader, Ealing Liberal Democrat Group