Anyone looking for evidence of the incestuous and murky nature of politics need only look at Ealing Council’s Labour Group.
Recently, the Labour Leader of the Council, Cllr Julian Bell, arranged for the director responsible for planning and other senior planning officers to meet Dr Onkar Sahota, Ealing's Labour London Assembly member, on site to discuss Dr Sahota’s very contentious planning application.
The Leader even continued to add to the grandeur of the event by attending the site meeting as well.
This gold plated service is of not available to ordinary members of the public. In fact, ordinary members of the public find it hard to get through to the Planning Department, whose phones are permanently set to voicemail.
Meanwhile, we have established from the results of a Freedom of Information request, which we submitted that, when setting up the meeting, Dr Sahota wrote to Cllr Bell asking him to "do the needful" as his planning application had been "registered". We would all love know what he means by “do the needful.”
Immediately when this issue became apparent, I wrote to Cllr Bell asking him to refer himself to the Council's Standards Committee, which has now agreed to investigate the case. So I wrote a list of questions, which a thorough investigation ought to answer, chief being why the Leader felt the need to attend personally this initial planning meeting and not any others, and what was so special about it.
It should come therefore as no surprise that the Council Monitoring Officer has written back to say that my very straightforward questions are "out of scope" and won't be investigated! So the whole affair has become a farce and a "whitewash.”
On top of the above, the Ealing Council Labour Leader, Cllr Bell also works for the local Ealing Southall MP and former Ealing Councillor, Virendra Sharma, for two days a week as his researcher at Westminster. So when you meet Cllr Bell, you don’t know whether you are talking to him or the MP. And when you talk to the MP you don’t know whether you are talking to him or the Council Leader.
Such is the level of farce that Cllr Bell was recently forced to open a new £2.5 million car park in Southall, even though publically admitting it was in the wrong place and declaring that the Council was on its knees financially. Such is the influence of the Southall Councillors.
The residents of Ealing deserve better from their publicly elected officials.