Ealing Council rejects Liberal Democrats’ proposal to bring back ward forum

Image: Councillors voting against the Liberal Democrats’ amendment to bring back ward and town forums

Liberal Democrats condemn “democratic deficit” created by ending of ward forums

Ealing Council have rejected a proposal to bring back ward and town forums.

The proposal, which was put forward by the Liberal Democrats, promoted the re-establishment of the forums to “enable a better engagement and improvements in their area on local issues.”

During a meeting of the Council Tuesday 16 April, Leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council and councillor for Chiswick’s Southfield ward, Gary Malcolm, put forward the proposal. Cllr Malcolm said bringing back ward and town forums would act as a form of “devolution” which would allow “more community input and better outputs for residents”.

Speaking against the motion, the Labour Leader of Ealing Council Cllr Peter Mason referred to Ealing’s existing model which covers Ealing’s seven towns of Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall.

“Communities in Ealing are thriving, alive and are buzzing with discussion and debate and engagement and activity,” Cllr Mason said, “It tells you something about incredible our seven towns are. Communities come together for themselves to determine the type of neighbourhoods they want to live in.”

He condemned the proposal as a “top-down enforcement” of democratic engagement and encouraged representatives to meet residents on their own terms, at meetings organised by communities themselves rather than those organised directly by the council.

“The Forums were paused during the COVID pandemic and have not been revived since then,” Ealing’s Liberal Democrats said, “despite the Council having a budget to fund and action them.

“Ealing Labour have trumpeted much about Town Forums, but these have not appeared, meaning that residents are becoming disenfranchised.

“Ealing Liberal Democrats endorse the essential need for both Town and Ward Forums to enable residents to engage and establish ideas or projects that will address local issues.”

Image above: Ealing Lib Dems

Lib Dems reference the fact Hounslow hold ward forums

In promoting ward forums, Ealing’s Lib Dems referenced LB Hounslow’s ward forum structure.

“In Hounslow for example each individual councillor has a small budget for such schemes which strengthen community ties, either through working as local project delivery, discussion chambers or to engage other agencies such as police or health services in a locally focussed approach.

“It should be noted that the funds for use in local projects have been absorbed by Ealing Labour and are redistributed to other unknown services in an opaque fashion. In a Liberal Democrat Official Budget amendment recently, we showed how it was possible to have both Town Forums and Ward Forums.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar