Ealing is like a family that goes through good times and bad times.

Sometimes a family has to make sacrifices to better itself or to even remain intact.

The opening of Westfield, Europe's largest city mall, in Shepherd's Bush must be a wake-up call to Ealing.

While our own tiny Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre was opened by the Queen the owners of the massive multi-million pound Westfield Shopping Mall got a recently discovered pop singer to do their honours.

For everyone in Ealing, particularly its shopkeepers, it is only a short bus ride away.

But some sceptics are already saying that Westfield's miserly 4,000 car parking spaces, compared to Blue Water's 13,000-plus spaces, could make it the biggest failure since the Dome was without parking facilities. A bit like Ealing's own shopping centre.

An upmarket (for the time) shopping experience, but with exceedingly poor vehicle access, the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre has always been hard work to get to.

Long traffic queues down a small residential road, or carrying heavy shopping bags on crowded buses - what a choice. Hence the call for new mini shopping malls shoe-horned into the already overcrowded central Ealing.

There are even calls to revamp the tired Broadway Shopping Centre. But vehicle access, the key to any shopping mall's success, will still be poor.

Like it or not the majority people would sooner go shopping by car than anything else.

It's common sense and practical to go by car so that shopping can be easily and effortlessly taken home. Is that really such a crime?

Like a family in crisis Ealing will have to make a hard decision. Whether to remain a struggling but 'pleasant', faded queen of the suburbs, always hunting for new commercial enterprises to finance an ever growing demand on its council tax budget.

Or to sacrifice a large piece of treasured land for a once and for all shopping mall with all the variety of Westfield and ease of access of Bluewater.

And the only suitable land would have to come from Ealing Common. Not all of it but a large enough section to provide shops with adequate parking.

It has all the road access you could desire.

Ealing Common Tube station is nearby and there is already an established bus route running past.

Appalled by the suggestion we lose part of a public amenity?

Then ask yourself what would attract the most visitors in 10 years - Ealing Common grass or a massive shopping mall?

What would earn the most money? Or would you prefer paying higher council tax?

The choice is yours.


Ealing W13