Supt Andy Rowell breaks down over Ealing Riots

At tonight’s special Council meeting myself, Gill and Allison witnessed Superintendent Andy Rowell, Borough Commander tell his side of the story…

Many questions have been asked about Police presence on the night of the riots and there have been criticisms too. What many people wouldn’t have even contemplated is that there were only 35 officers in Ealing Broadway on the night of the riots. Pleas for more assistance via the Resourcing Centre were met with ‘no resources are available’. Having already sent 37 of his specially trained officers to alternative London locations Supt Andy Rowell was unable to retrieve them to handle the ensuing riots on his own patch.

Supt Andy Rowell broke down when he re-told how the events of the night played out and how his officers were severely outnumbered attempting to deal with around 200 rioters in Bond Street alone.  No riot shields, no helmets, no special uniform – nothing.

After listening to this compelling account of the Ealing riots spontaneous applause broke out amongst the chamber and for those of us sitting watching the live video link.


Ealing’s targets for affordable and socially rented homes are unlikely to be met

Vice Chair of West Ealing Neighbours, Eric Leach, looks at the housing situation in Ealing and finds few reasons to be cheerful about the future.

Recent research by the School of Medicine at University College London suggests that apart from smoking, the principal sources of avoidable illness and premature death are overcrowding, homelessness, a poor standard of housing and insecurity in housing. (Hansard HC Deb, 5 May 2011). These findings should leave no-one in any doubt as to the gravity of anyone not having a home.

The numbers of Rough Sleepers in London is on the rise. There were 3,673 in London in 2009/10 – an annual increase of 6%. (Crisis CHAIN database). This is the first uplift in the figures since 2002. Rough Sleepers life expectancy is 42 years. (Crisis).

Historically homes for the poor were described as Council Housing. Prime Minister Thatcher began the phasing out of Council House building in 1979. By also allowing Council House tenants to buy their homes that further depleted the stock of homes for the poor. Successive Governments have continued this policy of not building Council Housing. As of now there are three working definitions of housing stock for households whose needs are not met by the market.

  • Affordable Housing -Affordable Housing includes Social Rented Housing and Intermediate Affordable Housing.
  • Social Rented Housing – Owned and managed by Local Authorities and Registered Social Landlords (eg Housing Associations) at rents below market rates and determined by the national rent regime.
  • Intermediate Affordable Housing – Housing at prices and rents above those of Social Rented Housing but below market prices and rents.

The size of the ‘unhoused’ in England and Ealing can be summed up in a string of facts which include:

There are 1.8 million people on Council Housing Waiting Lists in England. There are 17,000 on Ealing Council’s Housing List (Ealing Council, February 2011). Affordable Housing needs in Ealing are estimated at 3,213 homes (Shelter England). The building of Social Rented homes in Ealing is inadequate – only 126 of them were built last year (Ealing Council Annual Monitoring Report 2010). The cost of renting is 51% higher in London than the rest of the country (GLA report).

Government Proposals and Ramifications

The Government is cutting 65% off the budget for Social Home building. The poor are now to be asked to fund the building of new social housing. Rents on new Social Rented Homes (typically built by Housing Associations and by property developers) are to be increased from 40% of market rates to 80% of market rates. The cash raised from the increased rents is to be used to fund the building of new social housing. This initiative pretty much removes the distinction between Social Rented Housing and Intermediate Affordable Housing. If the former is to be 80% of market rents, and the latter (say) 90% of market rents there’s barely any difference between the two categories. I wonder which category will be ‘disappeared’ by the Government.

Many Housing Associations are wary about being able to achieve this uplift in social rents. They may well conclude that taking on the building of new social rented homes is too much of a financial hill to climb and may concentrate in the future on building homes for sale and/or acting as Registered Social Landlords. Family Mosaic, a well respected large Housing Association, has stated that ‘setting rents of 80% of market rent would increase our clients’ requirements for Housing Benefit by 151%.’ (Hansard HC Deb, 5 May 2011). Housing Benefits reform proposals will cost people living in social housing an additional £728/year. (National Housing Federation).

London Proposals

Social Rented Home building starts in London:

  • 2010-11: 2,000 units (estimate)
  • 2011-12: 2,000 units (estimate)
  • 2012-13: 0 units (estimate)
  • 2013-14: 0 units (estimate)

Source: Government’s Homes & Communities Agency

These numbers are pretty scary and seem quite unintelligible.

Ealing Proposals

2011-2026: 14,000 homes to be built of which 50% will be Affordable Housing units (7,000) and of which 60% will be Social Rented (4,200). (Draft LDF Core Strategy, September 2010

Likely outcomes for Ealing

Some people and families in central London boroughs will not be able to afford to live there and will move to cheaper boroughs which will include Ealing. Similarly people in Ealing may also move out to cheaper boroughs to the west, north and south.

Rough sleeping in Ealing is likely to increase.

The number of new social rented homes built over the next few years will be very small:

  • The recently approved Planning Application for Westel House in Ealing centre for example boasts only 33 Affordable Rent units against a total of 225 private sale flats and hotel rooms to be built. (The number of social rent housing units in this 33 figure is unspecified in the Planning Application).
  • The Green Man Lane Estate redevelopment will actually, over a five year period, reduce the number of Social Rented Housing units from 391 to 338. That is of course assuming that money from the heavily slashed social housing fund will be found to fund this social home building.
  • The Dickens Yard development will include the building of 207 Affordable Rent housing units over the next five years. (The number of social rented housing units in this 207 figure is unspecified in the Planning Application).
  • The largest planned housing development is Southall Gas Works where 1,125 Affordable Rent housing units will be built over the next ten years. I can’t find any information on how many of these 1,125 housing units will be Social Rental Homes.

It’s hard to see how and where the 4,200 new Social Rented Homes or the 7,000 new Affordable Homes will be achieved in Ealing by 2026.

Cinema comes back to Ealing but not as we know it…

city lights postermetropolis posterCharlie Chaplin? Metropolis? Ivan the Terrible? They’re classic films and deservedly great -best of all you see them locally at Ealing town hall on a Friday night. Put City Lghts in your diary for Friday May 13th, Metropolis for May 20th and Ivan the Terrible for May 27th – 7pm Ealing Town Hall, £7.50. You need to be a member so for membership and information : 020 8579 4925

Ealing Broadway developer Glenkerrin faces collapse

Vice Chair Eric Leach reports that according to ‘Property Week’ magazine would-be Ealing centre developer Glenkerrin is facing collapse.

Grant Thornton is expected to be appointed on 10 May as Administrators to the company’s five London properties. Irelend’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) is the instigator of this action. NAMA also appointed Grant Thornton as Receivers to the Irish Glenkerrin properties.

Glenkerrin bought up the existing Arcadia site and other properties immediately west of Ealing Broadway Station and proposed a retail and residential development , including a 26 storey residential block, in 2008. Ealing Council agreed to the Planning Application but the Government eventually turned it down in December 2009. WEN as part of Save Ealing Centre spoke at a Government Inquiry on the application and you can read Eric’s personal blog of the daily twists and turns of this Inquiry here).

It appears that Glenkerrin is in debt to the tune of 650 Million Euros.

WEN is not surprised at Glenkerrin’s collapse, but we are surprised that it has taken so long for it to take place.

Eric Leach

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.

Ealing’s LDF consultation does not meet residents’ needs

Vice-Chair of West Ealing Neighbours, Eric Leach looks at the recent LDF consultation by Ealing Council.

2010 Public Consultation

1. The Wrong Plan at the Wrong Time

The LDF plans are yet again all about home building. S106 and Planning Gain monies extracted from residential property developers have never, and will never, provide adequate finance to provide the education, healthcare and law and order resources to support the new incoming residents.

So one of the net results of adding 35,000 new residents in 14,700  new homes will be to swamp and degrade the existing social and community services for existing residents. This is unacceptable to Ealing rate payers.

Ealing is seemingly not penalised for failing to meet its London Plan housing targets. In 2009/10 it will massively miss its targets and it predicts it will similarly fail in 2010/11:

Year             London Plan Target           Actually Built/To be Built

2009/10           848                                  298

2010/11           848                                  306

(Source: Ealing Council Annual Monitoring Report 2009)

National Government finances are in a shambles (National Debt at £944 billion and the current Annual Budget Deficit at £167.9 billion). So National Government is unlikely to stump up the required monies for new social and community facilities. Even more damning is the possibility that the Housing Association charities like A2Dominion, Genesis, Catalyst, and Notting Hill Housing Trust can no longer expect to receive the tens of £millions annual handouts from National Government for home building.

All these home building plans are not wanted by Ealing rate payers; are unlikely ever to come to fruition; and constitute a waste of all our time and money formulating and discussing them.

2. Residents’ 2009 Feedback Ignored

In 2009 Ealing Council carried out Public Consultation on its Draft LDF Core Strategy. The key thrust of the 300+ pages was to build 14,700 new homes along the A40 and Uxbridge Road corridors by 2026. More specifically 10,000 new homes (let’s face it flats) were to be built 800 metres from Acton, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Southall Stations.

85% of the residents, and residents and community groups’ written responses to the strategy objected to this housing densification strategy.

On 20 July 2010 Ealing’s new Council Cabinet agreed a new set of Draft LDF Core Strategy documents. These documents contain the above densification strategy which the public roundly dismissed in 2009. Given this fact surely the planned 10 weeks of further public consultation is a waste of all our time and all our money. How can such an approach be logical, ethical or even legal?

The Leaders of the Council must be confronted with this reality as soon as possible.

3. Single Audience Meetings

The 2007 LDF public meetings (albeit hosted by ECS and ECN) and the Council’s 2009 LDF public meetings ‘broke up’ rapidly in workshop based discussions. WEN chaired three of the workshops in 2007 and looking back at the WEN notes from three years ago none of the three workshop recommendations have been implemented.

There are big issues to debate concerning how land might or might not be used over the next 15 years. The Council’s proposals need to be debated in front of a single audience.

We should insist on single audience meetings this time around.

4. Review Hard Copy Documents in Advance – and Free

In the 2009 LDF public consultation it was difficult for residents to obtain hard copies of the documents in advance of the meetings. Outrageously residents had to pay for copies.

It is unreasonable to expect residents to down load and print out 300+ pages on their own PCs. Anyway not all the relevant documents are available for down load. No resident has as yet been able to down load probably the most important document ‘Infrastructure Delivery Plan, Appendix 1.’

5. Open Attendance at All Meetings

Some of the meetings scheduled (seven in all) are flagged as ‘Invitation Only’. This is an unacceptable part of a public consultation process.

6. Quality of Life is the Number 1 Issue for Ealing Residents

This fact is as lost in the current crop of land use (LDF) documents as it was in the 2007 and 2009 document sets. The asset management plans for Ealing of the Met Police, NHS and whoever runs Primary and Secondary State education should be contained in these documents and I’m 100% certain that they are absent.

The 2007, 2009 and 2010 Ealing LDF documents are all obsessed with building new homes in already heavily built-up areas. Building new homes is not one of the quality of life issues for the vast majority of Ealing residents. There is no room to build 10,000 homes in the Acton to Southall Uxbridge Road corridor – except in tower blocks. There is also no space to build the social and community facilities to support these new residents in this corridor – except in tower blocks. And residents don’t want more tower blocks.

For a country which could well be heading towards another recession and bankruptcy, whatever small amounts of money that can be made available locally for Ealing residents should be spent on maintaining our quality of life and possibly even enhancing it.

7. No Bespoke Meetings in Northolt, Perivale or West Ealing.

What will these towns be like in 2026? Although local meetings are planned for Ealing, Ealing town centre, Greenford, Acton, Southall and Hanwell why are there no local meetings scheduled in Northolt, Perivale or West Ealing?

8. No Bespoke Meeting for Elderly Residents

It’s pleasing to see a bespoke meeting will be arranged for young people. But what about elderly people? There are currently more people over 60 than are under 16 years old in the UK. Of those over 60 the fastest growing group are the over 85s. By 2034 5% of the total UK population will be over 85. So why is there not a bespoke meeting for elderly people?

9. ‘Developer’s Forum’

To involve property developers in a draft LDF development strategy public consultation seems utterly bizarre. One might construe its existence as complete arrogance on the part of the Council that it will go ahead with the draft plans in spite of what Ealing residents think. Alternatively is it really possible that developer feedback would cause the Council to change its plans to suit the precise needs of the developers?