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Southall Green residents tell Ealing Council leader and ward councillor Peter Mason they want ward forums back as their voices are not being heard

Residents in Southall including the Southall Green ward have spoken out over Ealing Council axing ward forums and claim it shows how their voices are not being heard.

They cite as an example, councillor for Southall Green and leader of Labour-run Ealing Council, Councillor Peter Mason who residents claim has not been responding to their concerns. They say ward forums would help to address the issues in person.

Prior to the pandemic in 2020, Southall residents say ward forums with their local councillors happened but now they are not happening at all despite a need for the local community wishing to have them. Instead the council is planning to offer town forums which bring together all the wards from a town instead of keeping it directly local to the ward. This will reduce the 23 ward local forums down to just 7 town forums.

Angela Fonso, campaign coordinator for Clean Air for Southall and Hayes said: “The very last one in March 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. The council cancelled ward forums across the borough as a cost cutting measure.”

With no ward forums, residents have tried to reach out to councillors by email as well as other communication means but feel they are not being listened to.

Ms Fonso added: “Peter Mason did not respond to a letter emailed to him in July about air quality monitoring at the Green Quarter. Those experiencing digital poverty, the elderly and visually impaired are excluded from the engagement process.”

Another Southall resident Amrik Mahi voiced his concerns over the way ward forums were managed. “The Southall ward forums have been stopped by the councillors over two years ago. In what meetings we did have, the chair councillor always put major concerns last on the agenda or did not even talk about them because time would run out. We need the forums to hold our councillors to account.”

Mr Mahi added: “People need a voice and raise concerns and one way to do this has been stopped. It’s not cost cutting but cutting out the voices of the people. The councillors are not easy to get hold off and Mr Mason won’t reply directly.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council told EALING.NEWS: “Liberal Democrats think the cancelling of ward forums is very regrettable. Labour promised before the election to keep them and they have broken their promise. Their replacement, the town forum meetings, will mean many important local issues may remain unheard due to the much larger size of the towns compared to wards.”

Councillor Malcolm added: “Liberal Democrats want to see ward forums retained and enhanced, with a much greater share of the Council’s environmental budget so that residents and their councillors can have a greater say on what happens in their ward. They would decide which streets need road safety measures, pavement and road repairs as well as improvements to lighting. Liberal Democrats wanted the current ward forums to be quarterly with ad hoc meetings if an important local issue arises.”

EALING.NEWS has approached Ealing Council for a comment.

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