It’s probably fair to say many residents have never heard of ward forums let alone been to one. However, these two public meetings a year with each ward’s three councillors are some of the few chances residents have to raise questions and concerns with their elected representatives. Ealing Council appears to be planning to scrap these meetings as part of a future round of cuts.
As well as reducing local democracy, the plans are also to take away the annual allocation of about £40,000 to each ward which it has been able to spend on local priorities and projects. So, for example, in the Walpole ward the forum has helped fund WEN’s annual SoundBite Festival and Christmas Fair, OPEN Ealing, the redesign of the pigeon-attracting corner near Sainsbury’s, improved lighting, traffic calming measures, new street signs and much, much more.
If this plan goes through it will mean an even greater democratic gap between residents and councillors and the likelihood that small community projects and events will no longer happen. Both of these are bad for the local community and we will all be the poorer as a result.
If you are concerned about this then the Ealing Liberal Democrats has set up a petition to save ward forums. It needs 1500 signatures to get on the Council’s agenda for discussion. Your name and address will be included on the petition.