The General Election was a bitter sweet night for the Labour Party in Ealing. Obviously we were delighted to see all the Ealing Parliamentary constituencies return Labour MPs especially the election for the first time of Dr Rupa Huq in the highly marginal Ealing Central and Acton seat but this local euphoria was set against the massive disappointment of the national result.
The implications of that national result are already beginning to impact on Ealing. The £12bn welfare cuts that the Tories cynically refused to say where they would hit before the election will now be targeted at families with children pushing more into poverty, and the disabled. Ealing is one of the most affected Boroughs in the country by these changes.
The cuts to the Council’s budget were already eye watering at £183m between 2010 and 2018 but the Tory Chancellor George Osborne has already announced that there will be even more on top of this – from the Council’s public health budgets, Transport for London who fund the majority of our road improvements in the Borough and local government budgets in general. We will get the gristly details in the emergency budget in early July.
With demand pressures from a growing elderly and younger local population with care needs the Council is already struggling to cope. We have delivered and identified £154m cuts but we still have to find another £29m plus whatever the Chancellor hits us with in July.
I am proud to say that not withstanding this financial onslaught we are still managing to freeze Council tax for a seventh successive year, deliver improving services and transforming our schools, town centres and housing estates through big capital projects.
We also have ambitious plans for the future. We want to boost our recycling in the Borough to 50% by 2018 through making recycling easier and we have more big projects ahead including a new library in central Ealing and a new 50m pool at Gurnell. All this, given the financial situation, will be even more difficult than before but we are determined to succeed for the people of Ealing.