Public meeting on saving Ealing’s libraries on Wednesday 8th May 7pm at Ealing Town Hall

‘Ealing UNISON in collaboration the Save Ealing Libraries Campaign and a number of Library campaigners have jointly organised a Public Meeting which will take place on Wednesday, 8th May, in the Liz Cantell Room, Ealing Town Hall, from 7 pm to 8.30 pm. We are in the process of contacting a number of key literary figures and political activists, committed to the cause of saving public libraries. We are still open to having speakers with political ‘clout’ (forgive the expression) from Ealing and beyond, who can pull audiences so please do get in touch with me (Grace Akuba) directly if you would like to take part.’

You can read more about this campaign and the petition which has over 4,600 signatures here

Bad-tempered public meeting on future of West Ealing Library

This was about the most bad-tempered meeting I’ve been to, though I’m told the Northfields Library meeting was worse.

The meeting was part of the Council’s consultation about its new library strategy. Underlying the strategy is the need for the Council to make expenditure cuts in order to balance its budget. (Quite a lot of the argument was about whether the Council needs to do this and heavy criticism of its dealings with developers over how much they pay the Council for maintaining and improving local infrastructure – doctors surgeries, transport, leisure facilities, libraries, parks etc).

The meeting was facilitated by an outside organisation.  Carole Stewart from the council who is Asst Director for Libraries and Cllr Jasbir Anand the cabinet member responsible for libraries were both speakers at the meeting.

These are the points I noted;

  • The consultation runs until 17th May and the cabinet will  decide on the final strategy on 16th July
  • Expressions of interest from community groups interested in running a library open on 29th April and  close 31st May
  • For every £1 in 2010 from central government the council now gets 36p
  • In 2017/8 the total cost of running the library service was £3.9m.  In 2018/19 it will be £4.4m.. I don’t know why the increase.
  • The library service must reduce its costs by £1.142m over the next 4 years.  Moving to the community managed libraries would save about £800k
  • The council will keep running 6 libraries and seeks to have 7 community managed ones including West Ealing. The 6 are town centre libraries in Acton, Ealing Broadway, Southall and Northolt and two in areas of greatest social deprivation – Southall and Northolt.
  • The council will be responsible for the books and adding stock etc, the IT and computers, and will have a support team from the council run libraries to help the community managed ones.
  • One of the audience said there are 400 community managed libraries in the UK – out of a total of just over 4000 ie 10% are community run
  • 13 London boroughs run 37 community managed libraries between them. (So Ealing looking to have 7 is a high figure in comparison.  A number of people pointed out that some London boroughs were investing more in libraries and not less.)
  • A prospectus for each of the 7 libraries will be issued next week beginning 1st April.
  • There will be a conference about community managed libraries on 3rd April at University of west London
  • The current cost for running West Ealing library is £258,000 with £123,000 for staff and £25,000 for rates.
  • Carole Stewart talked about future costs for the library of £13,000. ( I don’t understand how she gets to this figure and it seems to exclude the cost of utilities, insurance, cleaning and so on.  The figure stated in the Council’s strategy document for what is called indicative costs is £98,158 for rent, rates, utilities, cleaning and overheads)
  • If no community organisation comes forward then the library will close

We need to wait for the prospectus about West Ealing Library to be clearer about the costs involved for any organisation wishing to run it. However, we do know some information about how many people use the library:

In 2017/18 there were 128,811 visits, 48,640 issues, 11,050 registered members,, 4,278 active users and 12 public computers.

The way the library is used is changing. The number of people borrowing books is dropping but the number using the computers is increasing.

One powerful message from the audience was the importance of the library to schoolchildren, people who are disabled and to many older people. It is very easy to access and has good transport links. It is also seen by many as the beating heart of our local community.

Public meeting about future of West Ealing Library Weds 27th March 4.30pm

Wednesday 27th March 4.30-6.30pm at 99 Broadway

 (in the old Bensons for Beds shop).

Ealing Council has issued a strategy document about the future of the borough’s libraries. The Council needs to save money and one of the options being looked at closely is to find community organisations to run some of its libraries. West Ealing Library is one of these libraries. It is quite possible the library will close if no organisation offers to run it.

If you want to find out more or ask questions about this then do please come to this meeting.

The strategy and accompanying documents are available on the Council’s website

Open Day at the West Ealing’s WLIC mosque this Sunday 12noon – 4pm

This is the invitation:

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to National Visit My Mosque Day, being held locally at the West London Islamic Centre, Ealing this Sunday 3rd March between 12-4pm.

This free, community led open day will as always be held in the spirit of understanding and dialogue. We hope to share experiences, showcase our temporary facilities and provide short tours of one of Ealing largest new faith centres, all within a friendly setting.

The afternoon will feature a variety of sumptuous delicacies, drinks and food, so please share and invite your friends and colleagues and bring them along. We look forward to welcoming you and your guests!

Council approves plans to demolish Woolworth’s and its art-deco facade in West Ealing

At tonight’s Council planning committee meeting (Wednesday 20th February) A2Dominion’s proposal to demolish the old Woolworth’s building with its art-deco facade was approved.

There were over 300 objections to A2Dominion’s proposal.  However, by the rules of the planning committee only one objector from the public  is allowed to speak at the meeting – and I assume only one speaker in favour.  Speakers are given three minutes to make their case. This is the argument I put forward:

‘Good evening councillors. I am David Highton chair of West Ealing Neighbours a residents group for the area.  I would like to make just three points – loss of art deco façade, its height and its design.

1.Loss of iconic art-deco façade

I am sorry you were not able to see the façade of this building when you visited the site on Saturday. However, I hope you will all have been able to see a photo of it as it looked before it was covered by scaffolding.

This art-deco façade on what was once a Woolworth’s store is the most recognisable architectural feature of West Ealing. It is much loved by many local residents, so much so that 1172 signed a petition to save it. I have a copy of it here. Most signatories live within the borough and many live in West Ealing.

Whilst the façade may not have been well looked after, it has not been irreparably damaged by neglect. West Ealing Neighbours commissioned an independent expert, Stand Consulting Engineers, to carry out a survey of the physical state of the façade. Their report concluded ‘ our view is that the damage to the cladding and structure (which is the façade) can be addressed by standard conservation-based repairs. We did not see any signs of structural issues to justify the demolition of the building’. I should at this point thank A2Dominion for allowing our expert to visit the site.

2 Height

Each new developer in West Ealing from the hotel opposite to the old BHS site next door and now A2Domnion have proposed to build higher than the last This time it’s 11 storeys at the front on the Broadway and 15-storeys at the back. It’s too tall, it’s out of keeping with the existing nearby buildings such as the hotel and the residential blocks along the main road.


The design of the proposed building recognises the importance of its art deco history and tries to capture some of its features. Why?  There’s no need.  The architects can keep the original and incorporate it into a new design.

In conclusion, A2Dominion understands the importance of design and context. Just a couple of hundred yards away the building it originally proposed for the old undertaker’s site on the corner of the Uxbridge Rd and Shirley Gardens was completely out of keeping and rejected by the then planning committee. They came back with a much more sympathetic design both in style and height. I think they can do exactly the same again if the committee says this proposal just isn’t quite right yet. Have another think about it and come back with a revised design.’

Four of (I think) 12 councillors voted against the proposal, so it was approved. A2Dominion now have three years to make a start on this work.

Decision on Woolworth’s site in West Ealing due on Weds 20th February

It’s been a long wait but the Council’s planing committee is soon due to decide on A2Dominion’s controversial application to demolish the old Woolworths building to build a block 120 flats up to 15-storeys high.  The date for the committee meeting is Wednesday 20th February.  WEN was one of some 300 groups and residents who objected to A2Dominion’s plans.  Click here for more information  about this.

Enjoy some great live music in Ealing this month

Friday 8th February at Cafe Zee Ealing Broadway – Ramon Goose and his band. Tickets £10. Start 7.30pm

Friday 15th February at the Brentham Club, Meadvale Road W5 1NP

Louise Marshall and The Brethren. Tickets £20. Start 8pm

Lots more information about the bands and how to book tickets here

Yet another bank to close in West Ealing. Santander will close in May

One by one the banks are closing in West Ealing.  A few months ago the NatWest closed and now Santander is closing on 9th May as one of 140 branches the Spanish owned bank is shutting in response to the changes in how many of us bank.  That leaves Barclays and Nationwide as the two main banks/building societies left in West Ealing.  Not good news for those who  need to see someone or have to bank actual cash.

Public consultation on plans to redevelop Gurnell leisure centre site

The Council has is consulting on major plans to redevelop the Gurnell leisure centre site. These plans include:

About 600 new homes with 20% affordable but no social housing

Buildings up to 17 storeys high

A 10-lane 50 metre pool, BMX track and skate park and a range of related leisure facilities

The development with be funded through the commercial residential housing.

The next public consultations are on:

  • Wednesday 6th February 2019, from 19:00 –20:30 at Gurnell Grove Community Centre, W13 0AR

A follow-up drop in event will be held on:

  • Saturday 9th February 2019, from 10:00-13:00 at Gurnell Leisure Centre, Ruislip Road East, W13 0AL

These events are open to everyone; however, space is limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis.

More information about this can be found on two websites –  and