Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Gary Malcolm provides the Gazette's first political column of 2013.
In about two months’ time Ealing Council will set its Council Tax.
Although not confirmed yet, it appears that Ealing Council will agree to the Liberal Democrat proposal to take a Government grant to freeze its Council Tax for two years.
When a Council sets its Council Tax budget you can see where its priorities lie. Over the past year or two, we have seen Labour-run Ealing Council make decisions that will severely affect the most vulnerable including the elderly or infirm:
Closure of day centres, cuts to Alzheimer’s and older peoples’ services, or reductions in grants to charities and the voluntary sector
High increases in both the parking & visitor voucher CPZ prices (many carers will probably pass this extra cost onto those they care for).
More recently Ealing Council announced plans to introduce a new local Council Tax Benefit scheme. This will mean that about 30,000 residents of our poorest residents will be expected to pay money they do not have and Ealing Council is already anticipating lower collection rates next year.
Labour-run Ealing Council are quick to use the Government as an excuse for any cuts to services whilst still wasting money on their pet projects or not taking responsibility for poorly run services. This includes:
Wasting £5.5 million on a car park that is not needed.
Spending £40,000 on a new glossy publication when it already publishes Around Ealing.
Not fining Enterprise for their, well below par, performance in cleaning our streets and collecting our waste and recyclables.
The Liberal Democrats know that in Ealing savings have to be made but the key is to always protect those who are the most vulnerable and the most in need.
Despite being in Government in a tough time, the Liberal Democrats have ensured that money is being spent in the right places. For example. the Pupil Premium has resulted in many schools in Ealing receiving extra funds to help the poorest children on free school meals. The amount allocated to schools in Ealing has increased to £8.7 million this year and will rise again next year.
The Liberal Democrats have also successfully fought to increase the income tax threshold to nearly £10,000 which means 10,450 of the poorest residents in Ealing no longer pay income tax, and 128,900 residents have benefitted almost £600 per year. Furthermore, thanks to the Lib Dems in Government, 3550 new apprenticeships have been created in Ealing since 2010.
We may not run Ealing Council, yet, but we are here to steer the current administration in a direction where resources are dedicated to those who need the most help.
Councillor Gary Malcolm,
Leader, Ealing Liberal Democrat Group