GORDON Brown fired the starting gun for the mad dash for votes when he announced the date of the General Election on Tuesday (6).
Candidates from across Ealing's three constituencies are now doing their best to make sure you choose them when you enter the polling booths on May 6.
In the first week of the Gazette's coverage we have asked candidates from the four main parties to tell us a little about what they stand for and why they should be representing you in the next parliament.
EALING CENTRAL and ACTON
LABOUR: Bassam Mahfouz
I’ve spent over 25 years in Ealing, grown up, attended school (Gunnersbury RC) and started a family here with my wife, Ealing girl, Izabela Zalewska and our 5-month old son Alexander, born in Queen Charlotte’s.
Ealing politics is important to me because I live here, I know the area and I know the issues local people like me face day-to-day. My first pledge is that I will be open and honest, publishing my diary and full expenses - I will never claim for a second home.
Crime and anti-social behaviour is the top issue for people across the borough in survey after survey, so I am proud that we can say ‘we’ve put more police on the streets’. Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams introduced into every ward across Ealing & Acton have local residents setting their priorities, making a genuine difference getting to know their patch. They must be supported in their work with more real resources, not ‘volunteer’ policemen to replace actual police, as is Boris’ plans to cut numbers across London.
Regeneration of our town centres is also a top issue: in Ealing Broadway the recent rejection of the Arcadia proposals have rightly shown that whilst we want regeneration, it cannot be at any cost. We must give a reason for people to use the new Crossrail line, secured by Labour, to get off (not just get on) at ‘Destination Ealing’, by offering an excellent shopping experience. For Acton and West Ealing we must also reverse the decline in retail by making it easier for people to shop in these town centres. The work Action Acton has done around the market cannot be underestimated and I would support offering similar vibrant experiences to shoppers.
The borough’s attraction lies in its appeal to families, professionals and retired couples alike. Its appeal is our open spaces and commuter links and we must protect our green spaces such as Haven Green and Gunnersbury Park. Regeneration plans for all three town centres must seek to meet the needs of local residents first but be clear about what we want in terms of local amenities, not simply more housing and more traffic.
CONSERVATIVE: Angie Bray
I live in the Southfield ward of Ealing with my partner, Nigel. Before politics I worked in Radio, first for British Forces Broadcasting in Gibraltar, and then for LBC here in London.
I served for eight years on the London Assembly, and for part of that time acted as the Conservative group leader.The biggest issue facing Ealing and Acton is regenerating both town centres. Crossrail will bring new opportunities, but enhancing our shops, providing housing for an expanding population, keeping our streets clean and safe, and improving public transport are also important considerations. We need careful, balanced expansion and it is vital that local public services grow to match extra demand. Ealing must not lose its essential character and our wonderful green spaces must be protected.
Crime and disorder is also a major issue for Ealing and Acton. Our Conservative-led council already funds 50 additional PCSOs on our streets. Boris Johnson has put an extra team of transport police into Ealing Broadway Station. His reforms have put officers back on the streets and left paperwork to office staff. Conservatives promise more police time on the beat, tougher sentences and more prison spaces.
Youth unemployment has shot up under Labour. To combat this, we will fund 100,000 new apprenticeships. To counter Labour's damaging plans for more tax on jobs we will raise the threshold where National Insurance tax kicks in for both staff and employers - thereby putting £150 back in the pockets of 7 out of 10 workers, and helping employers too.We will also offer pensioners important guarantees. The link between pensions and earnings will be restored, Councils will be given support so they can freeze Council Tax for two years, and a voluntary insurance scheme will be introduced to give people genuine choice over how they manage their care, should they need it.
We will continue free bus passes, the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences for the elderly. One more important Conservative pledge to Ealing and Acton: we will put an immediate stop to the third runway plans at Heathrow Airport. Heathrow should be better not bigger, and we do not want to see Londoners exposed to the increases in pollution that further expansion would bring. Gordon Brown has just reiterated his support for Heathrow’s expansion, only the Conservatives can form a government to stop it!
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: Jon Ball
As your MP, I will stand up for Ealing and Acton people. As an Ealing resident for 15 years, and a local councillor since 2002, I know our area. My local knowledge and experience gives me the edge in this election.
Above all, the Liberal Democrats stand for fairness.
We need to take action to protect our local frontline NHS services so we all have fair access to quality healthcare. The A&E services at both Ealing Hospital and Central Middlesex are under threat. Local people need to feel secure that if they get ill, they can be rapidly taken to hospital, and that their loved ones can easily visit them.
I have battled to save Gunnersbury Park from Conservative proposals to sell parts off to build houses and blocks of flats. We will preserve the green spaces in Ealing and Acton for future generations.
Nationally, we will make the tax system fairer. Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn. This means freeing thousands of people in Acton and Ealing who struggle to survive on low pay from tax altogether and delivering a £700 a year tax cut to thousands more local people on middle incomes.
I have led campaigns to save our town centres from damagingoverdevelopment and pledge to continue this fight as your MP. I campaigned against the Arcadia 40-storey skyscraper scheme in Ealing until it was finally defeated. This Conservative council spent £100,000 of local people’s own money on legal bills to defend the scheme against local people. In Acton, I successfully campaigned to save the Priory Community Centre and Acton Baths.
I have campaigned fiercely for many years against Heathrow airport expansion.
The Lib Dems are the only party with a plan to balance the country's books after the recession and, in Vince Cable, we have the best candidate to be Chancellor. Unlike any other party, we have identified real savings to pay for every spending commitment we make.
The new Ealing Central and Acton constituency is hotting up to be a close fight between my Conservative opponent and myself so every vote will count!
GREEN: Sarah Edwards
I was honoured to be asked to stand again as a Green Party candidate for the parliamentary election. So much has happened during the past 5 years and I believe that our policies are now more relevant than ever to people in Ealing.
There is a myth that our policies are all about the environment and tackling climate change; but actually we address all social and economic issues as well, striving for a fairer society and a more secure future for everyone.
I have lived in the constituency for 12 years and I’m employed by a national charity, to coordinate a national service for victims of crime. I have extensive experience of managing and developing services. In my spare time I have actively campaigned on both social justice and environmental issues. For example, in recent years I have been particularly involved in campaigns on supporting local services, stopping Heathrow expansion, protecting local green spaces and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At work I have also served as a union representative.
One of our key priorities is to ensure that vital services, such as health and education are not cut during the recession. We are realistic about funding and our budget includes savings in other areas, such as ending spending on nuclear weapons and ID cards.
During the discussions about the future development of Ealing, I have pressed for better planning, to ensure that levels of housing do not outstrip the local services available. The Green Party policies include bringing more of London’s 82,000 empty homes into use and giving greater priority to providing affordable rented homes.
I have also been involved in protecting green spaces from development – for example Gunnersbury park. We would ensure much tougher protection for green spaces, including gardens, which are currently treated as “brownfield” sites, as if they were old building sites.
On crime, our policies include tackling the causes of crime, such as inequality. We would treat drug addiction as health issue, so fewer people are drawn into crime, and provide better rehabilitation and training for offenders.
LABOUR: Steve Pound
What’s Labour ever done for Ealing North?
Sometimes we seem to forget that it was only eighteen months ago that Lehman Brothers Bank collapsed, global finance looked set to follow and here in Ealing the cash machines were close to closing up. It was that serious.
Since then we’ve seen a slow but sustainable climb back and it was the prompt and effective action of this government – copied around the world – that brought us back from the brink.
The single most important thing that a Labour government can promise Ealing North is unwavering commitment to the economic recovery and an absolute guarantee that we won’t follow the confused and contradictory policies that the Conservatives announce, retract, amend and announce again.
Look around our part of the world. Since Woolworths – who had serious problems before the crash – there has been no major collapse on the high street. There are more vacancies than people available to fill them at Job Centre Plus and from the edge of melt-down under two years ago we are looking set fair to get back to business in Ealing North.
I find it depressing that the only substance coming from the Tories is a series of increasingly bitter personal attacks on Gordon Brown and a ridiculous pie in the sky promise to save six billion unidentified pounds from government spending to cut inheritance tax for millionaires and protect those on annual incomes of £150,000 plus who are going to have to pay a little more tax under Labour.
Before the global financial crisis we were really delivering on the ground in Ealing North and just look at the new schools, Sure Start Children’s Centres, Northala Fields and even the Northolt Leisure Centre – planned and financed under the Labour Council, opened under the Tories – and the Safer Neighbourhood Teams that have given every part of Ealing North it’s own dedicated police officers to see the transformation.
There’s a huge amount still to be done. We have to deliver Crossrail for the benefit of all Ealing’s residents and I’m not convinced that a high speed link from Birmingham and points north is in our best interests. We need more buses and especially more night buses. Pensioners need and deserve more and we have to come to terms with the real threat of irreversible climate change; for our sakes and for the sake of the world’s poor who will suffer most.
We’ve shown that we have the courage to turn around the global financial crisis and we have to do the same in the face of global warming.
CONSERVATIVES: Ian Gibb
When the residents of Ealing North vote in the General Election, they need to ask themselves a simple question, “Do I want five more years of Gordon Brown?”
Gordon Brown has overseen the decline of the British economy. He claimed he had ended boom and bust. He claimed Britain was well placed to ride out the credit crunch. Yet we were one of the first countries into recession and one of the last to come out. Millions of jobs have been lost, including mine. I have worked in the construction industry for over 20 years but have never experienced anything like the current downturn. The first priority of the next Government must be to tackle the debt burden that is strangling the British economy and threatening our international credit rating – if that is downgraded we will all be paying much higher interest rates. We urgently need to reverse the disastrous tax on jobs announced in the budget by Alistair Darling, if we are to get Britain working again.
The next Member of Parliament for Ealing North must rebuild the trust of local residents in politicians. That MPs have decided to carry on employing their wives just goes to show they still don’t get the outrage the public feels about the expenses scandal. I have pledged not to employ family members, not to have a second home and to post all my expenses online so that residents can scrutinise them closely.
If elected as Ealing North’s MP, I will fight to defend local health services: I am really worried about the future of Ealing Hospital. I will campaign to make sure Ealing gets its fair share of police officers and free them from needless paperwork. This will get more ‘bobbies on the beat’; clamping down on crime, anti-social behaviour and street drinking. I will work to ensure that the new high school in Greenford is delivered on time in 2014.
Add in the need to get immigration under control, stop the loss of sovereignty to Europe and fix Britain’s broken society and you’ll see that real change is necessary. David Cameron and the Conservatives can deliver that change.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: Chris Lucas
Ealing North is one of London’s most vibrant and diverse constituencies, but it is also one of the most unequal. 13 years of Labour government have resulted in: the widest ever gap between the richest and poorest, unemployment figures hitting record highs and anti-social behaviour is spiralling out of control
Whether I’m in Greenford, Northolt, Perivale or Pitshanger, I hear the same thing – “we’re not being listened to...”, “we’re being excluded...”, “we’re being treated unfairly...” From Labour’s plans to close the A&E wing at Ealing Hospital and to expand Heathrow, or the Tories’ proposed cuts to police numbers, people are furious about not being consulted and frustrated at being ignored.
Fairness and openness is at the heart of Liberal Democrat policies and I am committed to delivering a fairer deal for all in Ealing North. It’s the Liberal Democrats who will abolish paying tax on the first £10,000 of income, instantly giving the tax payer £700 back each year. It’s the Liberal Democrats who will invest £2.5bn back into schools to reduce class sizes. It’s the Liberal Democrats who will clean up politics by banning abuses of our electoral system.
I have spent my adult life fighting for what is right. I joined the million other people against Blair’s war in Iraq; I have fought against the dual evils of racism and fascism and have campaigned for a greener, more sustainable future for our children.
So whether it’s City Hall or Whitehall, I will be the voice of the entire constituency – not just for the rich and the privileged. Unlike the Tories and Labour, I will never ignore the will of the people.
As your MP I pledge to:
Lead the fight against Labour’s attacks on our local frontline NHS services
Oppose Tory cuts to police numbers
Fight for a high speed rail network to connect Heathrow with other regional airports
So let’s send a message to Parliament that the people of Ealing North refuse to be ignored. A vote for Chris Lucas and the Liberal Democrats is a vote for change that works for you.
GREEN: Christopher Warleigh-Lack
I have lived in Ealing for four years, having returned to West London after living in Ireland. I am an architectural historian for a heritage charity while studying part-time for a higher degree. A community campaigner, I am involved with projects and issues around diversity and social inclusion. I am a longtime campaigner against Heathrow expansion and am involved in the London Growing Spaces project. As a user of British Sign Language, I volunteer with a local Deaf Children’s charity and work with Deaf visitors to heritage sites.
The Green Party stands for a fair society and environmental sustainability, and with resource problems like running out of oil and climate change you cannot have the first without the second. There are many brilliant environmental groups out there and we often work well with them, such as with Friends of the Earth at Brent Park, and STIG at Gunnersbury Park. However the reality is that politicians make the laws, and if we are not in Parliament, our position is weaker. As Greens, we have seen how much stronger we are for being elected to the London Assembly, Brussels and the Scottish Parliament.
Membership of the Green Party locally has risen by 23% since last year. People are realising a vote for us really counts! The three main parties are often very similar in their policies, and have no really new ideas for action on issues like jobs, the NHS, public transport and pensions. Their policies on the environment are mostly just ‘greenwash’: they talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk. If you want a fairer society where the tax policies redistribute wealth from rich to poor, and where policies are made for the people and our environment, not big business or trade unions, then please vote for the Green Party and for me in Ealing North.
Over the next few weeks I look forward to sharing my policies on key issues like health, education and transport with you.
LABOUR: Virendra Sharma
I have served and represented the people of Ealing Southall for 28 years. Hanwell and Southall are where I have lived with my wife and family for almost all my adult life. My children and grandchildren were born in Ealing Hospital and attended or currently go to local schools. We are firmly rooted in the local community and I want the very best for every family and individual in Ealing, Hanwell and Southall.
It has been an enormous honour and privilege to serve as your local Member of Parliament for the last nearly three years. I have met literally thousands of you at my regular weekly surgeries and have tried to resolve your problems through the facility of my constituency office. I have also tried to meet as many of you as I could at community events and celebrations. I have taken up many issues in Parliament on your behalf and will continue to be a strong voice for Ealing Southall whatever the cost. I resigned as a ministerial aide in order to make my opposition to Heathrow expansion clear.
In a recent parliamentary debate I received assurances from the Health Minister that there are no plans to close Ealing Hospital A & E Department despite what has been rumoured. I will speak up for local people against the Tory approved Southall Gas Works development that will bring traffic chaos to Southall. I will fight to protect jobs, homes and businesses in Ealing Southall as we come out of the global recession.
I have never taken the MPs’ second home allowance and regularly use busses and tubes to travel to and from my home in Southall to Parliament. I have only ever taken allowances that cover the cost of running my office and help me serve you as your MP.
If re-elected I will continue to work hard to unite all the communities in the constituency and continue to hold my weekly surgeries and serve you through my office in the constituency. I will always be there for you.
CONSERVATIVES: Gurcharan Singh
On 6th May 2010, the residents of Ealing Southall will have an opportunity to give their verdict on the Conservative administration of Ealing and Labour’s rule at the Westminster.
By any yardstick, Labour’s administration has been nothing but the disaster. They took us to illegal war in Iraq, presided over the longest and the deepest recession with 3.1m unemployed of which youths count nearly 28%, spent billions on ID cards and despite being at the helm for 13 long years, have not been able to control our boarders where hundreds of people are entering the UK unchecked. We need a CHANGE and there is no better place to start than Ealing Southall.
While Labour’s recovery plans include more taxes, like death tax, job tax, more tax on your inheritance, possible increase in VAT and more debts, the Conservative plans are based on investment. We will cut Labour’s waste and not the NHS. Under Conservative 7out of 10 workers will be better off.
On the home front, people of Ealing Southall have never had so good. Under Conservatives, more than 95% of our streets are now cleaned to grade A standard, recycling rate doubled, more than £10m invested in infrastructure, established a new library and health centre in Southall and all this has been achieved on the back of Council tax increase of 1.9% for 2008/09, No increase for 2009/10, lowest for decades and a refund of £50 to each council tax payer.
My main priorities for Ealing Southall are...
The future of Ealing Hospital
Crime and youth unemployment
Congestion and Traffic
I will strive hard not only to maintain services at Ealing Hospital but also to enhance them. I would campaign for more uniformed police officer on the beat and explore all avenues to extend Underground to Southall.
Finally, I have been a resident of Southall since 1972; all my three children were educated at local schools, have been a Youth Services Manager providing services to young homeless. I have been a Councillor from Southall since 1982 and was Mayor for 2003/04 when I raised more than £35, 000 for charities which included Meadow House hospice. With these credentials, I offer myself as the Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate for Ealing Southall and look forward receiving your support to bring about CHANGE we deserve.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: Nigel Bakhai
I was schooled and lived in Ealing for the best part of my life. My parents moved to Hanwell when I was only a few weeks old. Born to Indian and German parents I was lucky to grow up in such a multicultural borough. My two daughters attend the same primary school as I did. I have been a school governor and work as a teacher at a local comprehensive school.
Education is very important to me and I am proud to be a trade union representative for the National Union of Teachers. Securing an excellent education for all our children has to be a priority for any government.I joined the Green Party in 2005. Why did I join? I think the tipping point arrived when I realised that despite having acquired so many of the advantages of modern living, my children's future was not certain anymore and that if I wasn't a part of the solution, I was part of the problem.
We all want to buy British but to do this we need to re-invigorate our economy. Our economic strategy will rein in the reckless aspects of the financial sector and the Green New Deal will create thousands of new jobs and see a massive investment in renewable energy, workforce training, insulation and social housing. We will build a new alliance between environmentalists, industry, agriculture and workers/ unions to put the interests of the real economy first.
We do believe in making changes to the tax and benefits system so that those on the highest incomes pay more. The introduction of a Citizen’s Income will benefit small businesses. With our commitment to turn back from the path of globalisation, the Green Party is the natural choice for the many small and medium-sized businesses in Ealing. When I talk to people about the issues we face today I find that they agree that more of the same is just not going to work and that the Green Party offers long-term, sustainable solutions. One world: one chance.