The battle is on to save Northfields Library

Vice Chair of WEN Eric Leach went to last night’s consultation on Northfields Library, and reports back.

With standing room only at a well attended meeting last night, Ealing Council tried valiantly to defend its proposal to close Northfields Library.  The Council plans to close Hanwell, Northfields, Northolt and Perivale Libraries as part of its need to cut £65 million from its running costs for 2011/12.

Council Leader Bell attempted to respond to residents issues and questions which included:

1. Public Libraries are open to all and provide easy, affordable access to information and books to both young and old. Closing public libraries is a sign of a civilisation going backwards.

2. In 2006/7 the Council spent £610,200 on rejuvenating Northfields Library. How can you now just write off that money and close the library down?

3. £2 million is currently being spent to build a new Log Cabin, Scout hut and children’s centre integrated with Northfields Library. How can you now take the library out of this integrated children’s facility?

4 £5.5 million is to be spent on building a new car park in Southall. Set against that it would cost just £89,000/year to keep Northfields Library open. Who are more important here? Cars or people?

5. Why not cut senior Council executive salaries or reduce the number of highly paid senior staff in order to continue funding the complete library service? Currently 20 senior Council staff collectively earn around £2 million /year.

6. £16.3 million is being spent on new Council offces in Acton, Greenford and Southall. Kill this project and use some of the savings to continue the complete library service.

7. Ward Forum budgets could be used to help keep Northfields Library operational.

Councillor Bell made the point over and over again that volunteers could take over running the library. This was clearly offensive to professional, qualified library staff. It did occur to me that he probably wouldn’t make this suggestion in education (volunteers as teachers?) or in healthcare (volunteer brain surgeons?).

There was plenty of political points scoring by both Conservative and Labour Coucillors and the audience showed its complete disdain for this. At one point a member of the audience threw the mobile microphone at the Councillors on the top table. His aim was poor and he didn’t hit any of them!

There is an Ealing Council public consultation on library closure taking place until 5 May. You can access it at Please fill it in. But be careful as the questions (like those in many recent Council consultations) are ‘loaded’. This particular ‘loading ‘ is that the questions give the impression that libraries MUST close when in fact cost savings out of the Council’s £1 billion turnover could be made elsewhere (see issues/questions above).

Eric Leach
14 April 2011

What’s the story of the murals on the front of Sainsbury’s?

Anyone know about this mural?

Chair of WEN, David Highton examines the history of some interesting artwork in the centre of West Ealing

When we first moved here in 1978 there was a small Sainsbury’s in the Uxbridge Road not far from the current one. And I well remember this Sainsbury’s being built on the site of what used to be the library but I can’t for the life of me remember or find out anything about the five panels on the front of the shop. I’ve been to the Central Library and looked through back copies of the Ealing Gazette. I’ve even tried ploughing through pages of Council meeting minutes of the early 1980s but nowhere can I find any reference to these panels and who the artist was.

Sadly, it’s all too easy to forget these panels even exist as they seem poorly maintained. They all show children playing but much of the detail is now hard to see. It’s such a shame for them to go unnoticed. Does anyone know anything about them?

David Highton

Hair and Beauty shop taking over old Richer Sounds site

Chair of WEN, David Highton reports on developments on West Ealing’s high street.

The owners of Farah Hair and Beauty who sold their shop on the Uxbridge Road a few doors along have taken the lease on the old Richer Sounds shop on the corner of the Uxbridge Road and St James Avenue. I bumped in to the husband of the couple that ran Farah and he is hoping they can open up their new salon in about another three weeks once the fit out is finished.

Catalyst Housing Association owns this site along with a number of key blocks of homes locally.  WEN and then West Ealing Arts tried to secure this shop for its community shop idea but, mainly due to the cost of refurbishment, it all fell through.

That corner desperately needs revitalising and we wish them all the best and hope to see them make it a thriving business. Oh, and I’d still like to see a coffee shop and tables in that bit of St James Avenue.


David Highton

West Ealing’s independent shops give hope for the future

Chair of WEN, David Highton has spotted an interesting blog on shopping in West Ealing.

A shopping blog by North East retail expert Graham Soult finds hope for West Ealing’s shopping centre in its food and independent traders.

He writes:

Even before the loss of Woolworths, West Ealing’s high street had seen significant change in recent decades, with the departure of Marks & Spencer in the late 1990s widely seen as an important loss. That site, next to the old Woolworths building, has subsequently been redeveloped and is now occupied by Wilkinson.

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to see West Ealing as a retail centre in terminal decline. It’s true that on my walk along Uxbridge Road and Broadway I noted a lot of vacant shops – including the ubiquitous closed-down Ethel Austin – and cheap-looking discount stores. However, there are plenty of bright spots.

Arguably, it’s West Ealing’s independent shops that give it the brightest hope for the future. Walking through, despite the visible problems, the area has a cosmopolitan and colourful feel, with ethnic food shops displaying their wares in the street. The West Ealing weekly farmers’ market in Leeland Road – which seemed to be well advertised when I visited – also adds to the area’s reputation as a mecca for foodies, and is apparently its trump card in attracting shoppers from other parts of London.

Continue reading “West Ealing’s independent shops give hope for the future”

21 storey tower set to dominate West Ealing centre skyline

Vice Chair of WEN Eric Leach reports on a new development in West Ealing.

Just 12 months after National Government said ‘No’ to a 26 storey residential building overlooking Haven Green, plans have been submitted for a 21 storey residential building which will overlook Walpole Park.

The plan is to demolish the old Westel/TVU mini-Centre Point lookalike building on the corner of Craven Road and the Uxbridge Road on the eastern borders of West Ealing. In its place is planned to build three new buildings – a hotel, a flats for sale block and an Affordable Rents flat block.

Continue reading “21 storey tower set to dominate West Ealing centre skyline”

WEN public meeting – What future for West Ealing? Monday 22nd November, Dean Hall, 7.30pm

It may sound dull but the Council’s current consultation over the Local Development Framework, which is the basis for planning the future of Ealing from 2011 to 2026, will affect all of us and have a profound impact on the future of West Ealing. For example, the plans show:

  • Shops and businesses along the Uxbridge Road corridor demolished to make way for some 1,245 new homes and 3,500 new residents
  • But the plans do not mention how the infrastructure will be put in place to cope with this increase in population:
  • No plans for new schools
  • No plans for new healthcare facilities
  • No alternative strategies to ‘densifying’ the housing along the Uxbridge Road corridor

Because we feel it is so important that as many residents as possible have the chance to hear about and comment upon  the Council’s plans for West Ealing from 2011-2026, we have organized a public meeting. The meeting will take place at 7:30pm on Monday 22nd November, 2010. It will be held at Dean Hall on Singapore Road.

At this meeting West Ealing Neighbours will provide an overview on how future plans for Ealing will directly affect West Ealing. Specific Council policies to be discussed include proposed developments in West Ealing centre including extensive building of blocks of flats, and 50 or more shop demolitions. The meeting will also discuss what is missing in the plans – including the lack of new educational and healthcare facilities to support the 3,500 new residents in the 1,245 new homes. Attendees will also be shown how to register their objections to the plans.

At this meeting West Ealing Neighbours will provide an overview on how future plans for Ealing will directly affect West Ealing. Specific Council policies to be discussed include proposed developments in West Ealing centre including extensive building of blocks of flats, and 50 or more shop demolitions. The meeting will also discuss what is missing in the plans – including the lack of new educational and healthcare facilities to support the 3,500 new residents in the 1,245 new homes. Attendees will also be shown how to register their objections to the plans.

Please come along and make your views on West Ealing’s future heard

Volunteers needed for West Ealing Craft Fair 27th November

West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) have joined forces with St James’ Church this year for the annual Christmas craft fair at the end of this month.  We have a fully booked venue with lots of different types of stall and we are looking for additional volunteers to help us during the day.

We’d like to have a couple of people who could take tea and coffee to the stall holders as they can’t leave their stalls; three people who are prepared to help out in the kitchen area (a bit of clearing away of tables and some washing up); and we need about 15 people for the end of the day (about 4pm) to help clear up after the craft fair and have the Church ready for the next day.

You wouldn’t be expected to do any of this for longer than an hour so if you have more time to spare, great.  If not, then an hour is helpful.

I know it’s not very glamorous stuff but these are the kind of roles which form the backbone of an event like this.

If you can spare some time, please email  If you have any questions, please post them on here.

Many thanks – and even if you cannot help out, please come to the fair.  It’s a pretty spectacular choice of good (and great food).

Allison Franklin
WEN Committee

Reminder: It’s West Ealing Family day tomorrow!

Just a reminder about the first ever West Ealing Family Day this Saturday.  There’s something for everyone from facepainting for kids, food, music and dance in Melbourne Avenue; 100 varieties of apple at the farmers’ market in
Leeland Road; or freshly pressed local apple juice, local crafts and more in St James Avenue. Do please drop in and join us in celebrating everything that’s good about living in West Ealing.
Just a taste of some of what’s happening in each of the three streets:
Leeland Road – will have an apple themed farmers’ market celebrating National Apple Day (October 21st) with:
  • over 100 rare and different varieties of apple on display
  • cider tasting
  • the longest peel competition
  • apple and spoon race
Melbourne Avenue
  • facepainting and other activities for children
  • Dr Bike to help you get the most from your cycle
  • food stalls
  • an exciting line up of music and dance including a steel band, Sri Lankan dancing, punk/folk with King Ralph, indie/rock with The Grifters, Bhangra dancing and much, much more from 10am to 4pm
St James Avenue
  • WEN’s Abundance stall pressing and selling apple and pear juice from local fruit along with home-made toffee apples
  • a craft market selling locally made goods
  • a cafe in St James Church
  • art exhibition in St James Church
  • a blank canvas for you to paint on to produce a totally unique artwork for the day
  • activities for children
  • WEN stall about the future of West Ealing 2011-2026
We hope to see you there.

Ealing Council’s Future of Ealing Meeting Discusses Quality of Life Issues

Vice Chair of West Ealing Neighbours, Eric Leach, looks at how Ealing Council is proposing to provide for services to 2026, and finds much to be lacking, especially in terms of community infrastructure.

In the real world residents are interested in being happy, safe, healthy and fulfilled. If they are parents they want their children to receive a good  education. In terms of land use, meeting these needs requires designating ‘preferred use’ on land to be used for providing a whole range of services. Top of the list for these services is the need to provide adequate facilities for maintaining law and order, healing the sick and teaching our children. Also on the list are open space, transport, play, cultural and sporting needs.

On Wednesday 13th October 2010, Ealing Council convened a public meeting to explain how it was going to allocate ‘preferred land use’ for these purposes over the next 15 years.

Ealing Council’s home building plans over this period include introducing over 20,000 new residents into the so-called Uxbridge Road Corridor (Southall to Acton). The Council’s plans for home building are very specific. For example in the centre of West Ealing 18 sites are identified for building 1,245 new homes. The vast proportion of sites involve demolition of existing buildings. However the plans to build new Police Stations, healthcare centres or schools along this corridor are very vague. In West Ealing centre for example no specific sites are identified to provide these additional facilities to support the new 3,000+ residents.

As many residents at the meeting pointed out, the Uxbridge Road corridor is heavily developed. Consequently there is no space to build these new ‘infrastructure’ facilities. The Council does not suggest demolishing existing buildings to provide space for schools, healthcare or Policing centres.

The provision for Primary education in West Ealing (2011 – 2026) I found especially worrying. There are only two State Primary Schools in West Ealing centre – St John’s and Drayton Green. There is no realistic scope for expanding these schools unless they are rebuilt as educational tower blocks. In the south of West Ealing, Fielding Primary has already been expanded to a staggering 870 children (by building on the playing field). Hathaway Primary in the north has a playing field that could be built on (presumably) but no plans exist to extend Hathaway. All very strange. There is some vague commitment to search for a new Primary School site in central Ealing. Given that we are now in year 6 of this formal planning process the commitment to ‘searching’ is really not that impressive.

No preferred land use details exist at for all for any cultural infrastructure in the whole of Ealing.

There is no commitment to building an integrated transport hub around Ealing Broadway Station.

UK Planning Law is clearly not helpful to residents or Councils in the provision of infrastructure. Money for infrastructure is apparently to be found by collecting up the financial crumbs from the rich property man’s table. The latter is either a rich Housing Association (eg A2Dominion) or a private property development company (eg St George). Apparently there are never anywhere near enough crumbs to make any kind of infrastructure ‘meal’. Ealing Council’s track record in enforcing these crumb collection exercises (S106/Planning Gain) appears to be very poor.

Formally the meeting was reviewing the document ‘Ealing 2026: Infrastructure Delivery Plan: September 2010: Ealing Regeneration & Housing’. This document is part of Ealing Council’s ‘Evidence’ to support its Local Development Framework proposals.

Only 25 people turned up to this meeting. This included two Conservative Councillors but no Labour Councillors. No senior Planning or Economic Regeneration Officers bothered to turn up. The meeting was held in a little known, difficult to find community centre in the daunting South Acton Estate.