A 300 strong crowd drawn from local churches, schools and community group plus a smattering of councillors and council candidates including Fay Block (Labour, Northfield) and David Rodgers (Labour, Cleveland) attended an “Ealing Citizens Hosing Accountability Assembly” on Weds 18th April held at Twyford CE school in Acton to make demands of Cllr Julian Bell, Labour leader of Ealing Council, Cllr Greg Stafford, leader of the Conservative Group on Ealing Council and Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton in their work as local representatives relating to the high cost of housing.
Some of the most heartfelt requests came from school pupils including from Christ the Saviour and St Barnabas who displayed placards that they had devised collaboratively. Testimony was also was heard from people who had experienced substandard private accommodation including rodent infestation as well as insecure tenancies undertaking years upon years in “temporary housing”.
The meeting climaxed with a set of demands made of Bell, Stafford and Huq including introducing a charter of renter’s rights, insisting on greater percentages of affordable housing in new developments and committing to community owned land projects in the Crossrail corridor. Bell answered that Ealing Council were already some way to fulfilling all and would work towards reaching all these targets. Stafford committed to all of the pledges if the election resulted in him being leader of the council – even though London wide polling suggests that the Conservatives are set to lose rather than gain councils in the capital.
Rupa Huq promised to work in Parliament to extend the landlord licencing put in place by Ealing Council but stated that Conservative central government had rejected the idea of a wide-scale national rollout as “red tape” for private landlords, particularly given that a large number of Tory MPs derive income from this themselves.
Things took a personal turn when Cllr Stafford accused Cllr Bell of “swanning off to Cannes” to attend a property summit on behalf of Ealing and quaffing champagne. Bell answered that he’d cycled there for charity and was a non-drinker. Things ended with a summary from each candidate. Stafford promised that the Tories would heighten the frequency of street-cleaning while Bell pointed to Conservative cuts to Ealing’s central government budget and assured Ealing’s EU citizens that their rights would be protected at all costs.
Voters go the polls on Thursday May 3rd.