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 – http://www.futureofgurnell.co.uk/  and https://www.ealing.gov.uk/gurnell

 

 

West Ealing Business Improvement District looking for a new manager

Following their successful ballot, West Ealing Business Improvement District (BID) have advertised for a new manager.

The full page advert in the Ealing Gazette ( 11th January) gives a very detailed job description and person specification for this post. With a salary of £40-45,000 let’s hope it attracts some first class candidates who can help West Ealing develop a resilient and attractive high street which mixes retail and community activities as proposed in a number of recent reports on the future of high streets such as The High Street Report by John Timpson. .

Crossrail: Up to 3 years late and £2.5 billion over budget

The true scale of the potential problems with Crossrail are laid bare in an article on the New Civil Engineer website.  It’s long and detailed but well worth a read.

The new Chief Executive Mark Wild gave a bleak review of the current situation to a recent London Assembly meeting. It seems the contracts for new stations at West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Mail Line have yet to be placed.

The key points are:

  • Three years’ work likely with project now running £2.5bn over budget
  • Station construction revealed as critical path activity yet not one central station ready
  • One or two central London stations may be “omitted” for opening
  • Up to 15 month’s dynamic testing of trains and signalling yet to begin in earnest
  • On-board train control software unable to work with Heathrow spur

This comes out barely a few weeks after a Network Rail public meeting at Ealing Town Hall where we were told Crossrail/Elizabeth Line would be fully open by the end of this year!

Ever wanted to work in a library? West Ealing library may need you soon.

There’s a story on the Ealing Today website about a Council proposal for seven of the borough’s 13 libraries to be run by the community with no paid staff as part of the next round of budget cuts. One of these libraries would be West Ealing’s library in Melbourne Avenue. Other councils are successfully using volunteers to run libraries. It’s increasingly clear that volunteers will have a key role to play in helping deliver some local services.

This and a range of other cuts to children’s services and senior management at the Council will come up for discussion at next week’s cabinet meeting.

 

Local democracy under threat from plans to halt ward forums

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.

West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter plan reaches crowdfunding target

With a few days to spare the plan for the West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter is up and running thanks to pledges from 169 people and organisations reaching the target of £34,021. The West London Islamic Centre in Singapore Road made the final contribution to reach the target. Congratulations to everyone involved in helping this idea get off the ground.

This now gives the go-ahead for OPEN Ealing and the Ealing Centre for Independent Living to ‘ reopen a closed shop in West Ealing and create an amazing diverse retail and artistic space offering a range of community engagement art activities accessible to all – promoting inclusion, mental and physical wellbeing and independent living within the area. It will be a place where we can meet old friends, make new ones & express ourselves.

We’ll be able to learn about the area’s diverse culture via exhibitions, classes and events curated by the community for the community. The front will be a retail unit selling affordable mobility equipment, refurbished on site by our team of apprentices under the guidance of a qualified mobility engineer. The shop will be the first of its kind in the area.’

Watch this space as further developments are under discussion for the West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter.

West Ealing BID voted back for another 5 years

Almost five years ago the shops and businesses in West Ealing voted to be part of a Business Improvement District (BID). The BID provides  services such as waste collection and training courses for businesses along with helping fund events such as the Avenue Vintage and Antique Market, the SoundBite Festival and the Christmas Fair  to bring more shoppers to West Ealing.

A vote was held in November on renewing the BID for another five years and the answer was a resounding yes. Of the 134 votes cast 96 were in favour.

Congratulations to the BID and we look forward to hearing about their plans for the next five years.

Ealing group bids to set up arts centre in town hall

Ealing group’s arts centre bid

Campaign group CEPAC has made a bid for a performance arts centre to be set up in Ealing’s Victoria Hall, which is covered by a charitable trust.

CEPAC’s proposal was lodged with the Council last week, to meet the deadline for bids for Ealing Town Hall under the Assets of Community Value rules. These rules have so far delayed the Council from agreeing a deal to sell the whole building to Mastcraft, a ‘boutique’ hotel developer.

The Council must now consider all the options for the future of the Hall and its related areas. It also has still to get permission from the Charity Commission if it wants to sell any of the Trust property.

The Council’s own figures show that the Trust’s Halls have been producing a profit, which is meant to be retained for charitable purposes. Chair of CEPAC John Hummerston said:  “Studies by our professional consultants show that a properly run arts centre could generate an income at least 50% higher than the Council has managed to achieve, while meeting a long-felt need in the local community.”

Work will need to be done on the Grade II listed Hall to put it into a better state and make it fit for a stand-alone arts centre.  “A new set of trustees should be appointed without delay”, says John. “An independent charity would have access to funds that are not available to the Council, and we know the public will be eager to back a separate Trust as an alternative to the present council-run committee.”