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Community anger over Ealing Council scrutiny committee backing cabinet approval to develop on Warren Farm

Following last night’s (21 February 2023) Ealing Council scrutiny committee greenlighting the cabinet’s approval to develop sporting facilities on Warren Farm, community groups, residents and opposition parties have expressed their anger and say they will challenge the Labour-run council over its decision.

The Ealing Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting was called by the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Gary Malcolm. The committee, made up of backbench councillors, had the power to refer the decision back to the council’s cabinet for further discussion but it supported the original decision made by cabinet last month (January 25 2023).

The Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign had also previously written to all Ealing councillors including the majority Labour which is supporting the proposal as well as Ealing Liberal Democrats and Ealing Conservatives who have both opposed the plans.

The evening also saw more than 500 people attend a protest outside Ealing Town Hall before the committee meeting started and comes as it has been revealed that over 19,000 people have signed a petition for Warren Farm be made Local Nature Reserve designation for the entire site and surrounding meadows.

The campaigners say the proposal to develop a sports facility on the meadow, which has had 14 years to re-wild and is home to vulnerable species, runs counter to policies at national, London-wide and local level.

During the committee meeting, Councillor Malcolm, challenged Ealing Labour on its decision for Warren Farm.

“Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for the whole of Warren Farm to be designated as a local Nature Reserve. The council approach means a significant loss of biodiversity and publicly accessible open space. Green space has been shown to be essential to ensuring improved mental health, especially in urban areas. The people of Ealing are speaking but they are not being heard.”

The Clean Air For Southall & Hayes campaigners tweeted: “A bad decision which favours @_petermason‘s political ambition. The poor in #Southall need sports facilities walking distance from where we live. The destruction of nature with bulldozers and construction, in our name is reprehensible.”

Councillor Athena Zissimos, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Environment said: “Once this site has been lost the skylarks, bats, owls and the endangered plants will disappear, a whole eco-system will disappear. This is a unique opportunity to protect nature. Labour talk the talk on the environment but when it comes down to the ground and they need to take action on the environment they do the opposite of what is right. There is an opportunity to save Warren Farm in its entirety for nature, a rare and beautiful thing, let us not squander it.”

@lambdacub tweeted: “Many times this evening councillors from other areas supposed the needs of Southall residents without presenting any evidence. On health, on education, on community. Why did @EalingCouncil not invite a single Southall GP, teacher or community worker to give evidence? A total joke”

Dr Sean McCormack added in his tweet: “Very grateful for the help & support from @DrAmirKhanGP @IoloWilliams2 @MeganMcCubbin @Kaulofthewilduk @BillyHeaney @AjayTegala for their voices in asking @EalingCouncil @EalingLabour Cllrs to revise current plans. They did not tonight which is disappointing. On we go. For nature”

Ealing Green chair, Neil Reynolds tweeted: “Equally disappointing that the committee voted to proceed to the next stage with their plans to de-wild the nature reserve. The solution is simple: Give Warren Farm Nature reserve status now. All of it.”

Ealing Conservatives tweeted: “Supporting Warren Farm Nature Reserve this evening! Ealing Council must listen to residents!”

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