West London’s leading politicians have been reflecting on some of the big moments of 2015 and looking ahead to the new year.
MP Seema Malhota had a successful year, winning re-election in Feltham & Heston and promotion to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team as shadow treasury minister .
She said: “This is a time when all can join in a celebration of the shared values we have of giving and generosity of spirit. It is also a time to share in the teachings of Christianity about the birth of Jesus Christ and the lessons to be learnt from his life and the Christian faith.”
Ms Malhotra also praised the role of local media such as getwestlondon, adding: “Your work in sharing and spreading news is recognised and appreciated by many across the community.”
Over the border in Southall, MP Virendra Sharma said the 2015 general election was one of his defining moments of the year, bringing success and disappointment. Labour managed to secure all three parliamentary seats in the Ealing borough - including ousting Conservative Angie Bray in Ealing Central & Acton and replacing her with Labour’s Rupa Huq.
Mr Sharma said: “Although Labour did very well in Ealing it was disappointing to lose to the Tories nationally who have already shown their colours by closing Ealing Hospital’s maternity unit.
“In 2016 as we elect a new Mayor of London and Assembly, I will be pulling out all the stops to get Dr Onkar Sahota and Sadiq Khan elected for Labour.”
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council , said 2015 brought “fantastic news” that Ealing will finally be getting its cinema back, after the Council served a compulsory purchase order on the previous owners Empire.
He added: “Other good news included the new incline lift at Greenford Station and the new Southall Broadway Boulevard with improved traffic flows and wider pavements. We will make further progress on the cinema and other projects in 2016 but the new year will also bring some tough decisions as we try to close the £37m black hole in our budgets caused by the Tory cuts of 56% to local government.
“But with Crossrail bringing new investment, jobs and homes to Ealing I’m sure we will find a way forward.”
Ealing Conservative leader, Cllr Gregory Stafford, encouraged readers of all religions and none to use this festive period as a help the less fortunate or lonely, praising the work of the Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter , which is looking for volunteers.
He added: “Locally we have been holding the Ealing Labour administration to account. We have managed to secure the future of the Solace Centre against proposed closures; the battle lines over wheelie bins and fortnightly collections have been drawn; and the fight against the third runway at Heathrow continues.
“We want to work with local residents in 2016 to get the best deal for Ealing and to ensure that taxpayers money is spent wisely.”
Terrorism and Heathrow
Cllr Gary Malcolm, who leads Ealing’s Liberal Democrats, said as the year draws to a close his thoughts would be on the terrorist outrage in Paris and ongoing state of alert in London.
“One of my friends was shot in the Paris Bacalan music venue but left hospital recently,” he said. “If you spot any of your friends who are not as happy as they usually are, please make sure you speak to them as this can be a time when people’s mental health suffers to check they are okay.
“Looking specifically to Ealing, next year will have seen Ealing Council close days centres and they still look to introduce policies which will cause problems to our most vulnerable residents. Our biggest danger will be threat of expanding Heathrow. I hope people will join the Liberal Democrats in the campaign to improve the levels of air pollution.”
Steve Warwick, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), predicted that the big challenge for local and national government in 2016 would be to help ‘micro businesses’ - one person start-ups - to survive and flourish in the face of costs, in order to create a ‘small business friendly capital’.