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Ealing LibDems challenge Ealing Council over delayed resident forums

Ealing Liberal Democrats have attacked Labour-run Ealing Council over delays to residents forums since ward forums stopped during COVID.

Since then, Ealing Council has said it would be removing ward forums and introducing much larger town forums which it said would be more effective in fixing communities a say on what they want in their neighbourhoods. Town forums were set to start by the end of 2023 following engagement with residents.

The council previously said of town forums: “We want to engage and work with as many residents, community, voluntary and faith groups as possible and with all ages and background. Together we can tackle local issues and challenges. We believe our towns will benefit from the richness of ideas and solutions so that the sum of our collective input is better than our individual actions.”

It added: “During April and May 2023, the council will start working with our residents, voluntary and faith organisations, and anyone with a stake in their neighbourhoods, about getting involved, designing what a town forum model would look like. ”

During April’s (16 April 2024) council meeting, the issue of what is happening with town forums was discussed and challenged by both Ealing Conservatives and Ealing Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dem Councillor Jon Ball also asked how much has been spent on consultants on the project since the council announced it would be introducing town forums.

The LibDems said it had a proposal where both town forums and ward forums could work.

In a statement, the Lib Dems said: “Ealing Liberal Democrats endorse the essential need for both town and ward forums to enable residents to engage and establish ideas or projects that will address local issues. In Hounslow for example each individual councillor has a small budget for such schemes which strengthen community ties, either through working as local project delivery, discussion chambers or to engage other agencies such as police or health services in a locally focused approach.

“It should be noted that the funds for use in local projects have been absorbed by Ealing Labour and are redistributed to other unknown services
in an opaque fashion.”

Leader of Ealing Lib Dems Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition said: “Liberal Democrats find it arrogant that the Labour Leader thinks £500 schemes like luncheon clubs are not needed. Labour seem to be actively promoting a ‘democratic deficit’ by delaying the cancellation of ward forums and the establishment of town forums.

Councillor Malcolm added: “Liberal Democrats are listening to residents and encouraging their involvement through calling for the devolution of funds and recreation of forums to address local issues enabling grass roots engagement. It appears that Labour wish to control the spending of monies as centrally as possible rather than trust residents about their local areas. Residents deserve better.”

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