eric's daily blog - a very personal view of the arcadia public inquiry

Day 5: Tuesday 30th June 2009 | June 30, 2009

I arrive, take my seat, and as I’ve done for five days now look round in vain to see Ealing Council bosses and Ealing civic worthies sitting in the audience observing or even participating in the Public Inquiry. The most expensive absentee is Ealing Council’s Chief Executive, a man rarely seen by the rate payers, Mr Darra Singh. Surely his £220,000/year salary can stretch to his showing just a little interest in the proceedings? Then there’s Councillor Leader Jason Stacey. He has also not put in an appearance. Doesn’t he care? Then there are the three Ealing Broadway Councillor Messrs Scott, Potts and Young. The first two have been nowhere to be seen. Councillor Young popped in for a few minutes on Day 1 and on Friday 3rd July will do his famous episodic performance of opposing Arcadia. Councillor Ball of the highly adjacent Ealing Common Ward popped in on Day 1 and will also be speaking this week no doubt.

We currently have three MPs in Ealing – Messrs Pound, Sharma and Slaughter. No sign of them either. At least the prospective Conservative candidate for the newly constituted Ealing Central & Acton constituency Angie Bray put in an appearance on Day 1.

This is 4.2 acres in central Ealing. This is one of the most expensive and most crucial bits of real estate in the whole borough. What happens or doesn’t happen here will set the community tone in central W5 for at least a generation – and probably till the Climate Change floods come. DON’T THE TOP GUYS EVEN CARE A LITLE ABOUT THIS?

Over the weekend Save Ealing’s Centre, the organisation opposing the Arcadia Inquiry and the team I’m playing on, launched its own daily web site log on the Inquiry. SEC will inevitably pick up on some issues I may not feature, so also keep your eye on http://www.saveealingscentre.com

Today is all about Neal Bleakley and, ostensibly, Development Management. We have moved to the Town Hall basement and into Queens Hall, which is around half the size of Victoria Hall, where we were last week. There is limited room for residents and soon with over 30 of them some had to stand up. The first microphone failure occurred at 10:28 am. It’s hot, cramped and sticky.

The Council’s barrister tried to finesse through Mr Bleakley the Council’s way out of the no tall buildings policy black hole that they slipped into on Friday. We viewed a slightly surreal dialogue between the two of them about the concepts surrounding the word ‘generally’ in the context of ‘generally no tall buildings’. No-one in my row was convinced about by semantics tango. I wonder if the Inspector was?

Mr Bleakley launched into an interesting exposition on the status of all the UDP designated development sites in the centre of Ealing. It’s the kind of info one cannot pick up from the Council’s web site (even when it’s working). However the management summary is that of the eight UDP development sites identified, actual building work is occurring on just one of them – the so-called Ealing Cross office block on the south side of the Uxbridge road office alley western end. Boarded up inactivity after demolition describes the Empire Cinema site and the ‘economy’ hotel site, and the old Westel House is just boarded up with broken windows on its north facing aspect. Dickens Yard has been stalled now for seven months in ‘detailing’ dialogues between the Council and St George.

Draft S106 monies were again alluded to, including a £50,000 provision for an unspecified work of art. Cited from the draft agreement was that only 50% would be paid over by the developer until 550 of the 567 flats were actually occupied – then the 50% balance would be paid.. Bit worrying that. Our barrister repeatedly asked for explanations or formulas used for calculating the level of S106 payments, but none were forthcoming that bore any substance. Money for allotments was mentioned but no details were forthcoming as the where in Ealing these would be sited.

The audience had to be reprimanded by the Inspector for giggling out loud at some of Mr Bleakley’s statements. He was asked a wide range of questions and quite clearly he couldn’t answer some of them. He did however attempt to answer the allegations of gerrymandering with regards to the level of written support for Arcadia. Double counting; giving equal status to pro-forma letters as to substantive letters; and confusing support for regeneration with support for Arcadia were all brought up. All this clearly made Mr Bleakley uneasy.

The bus station issue came up again. We heard that TfL said it would cost £40 million and would have to be privately financed. 114 car parking places for commercial and retail use came up. Why this number? No answer. Compensating the loss of habitat in the railway cutting was raised – but no substantive explanation given.

We start at 9:30am tomorrow Wednesday 1st July with the first of the good guys Will French, SEC Chair. He’ll talk and be grilled on Planning.

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Posted in regeneration

3 Comments »

  1. Eric, who is Neal Bleakley?

    Comment by Gillma — July 1, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    • Gill, Neal Bleakley is an Ealing Council Planning Officer

      Comment by WEN — July 2, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  2. Interesting that allotments came up under Section 106 money. I clearly remember at the last but one Northfields ward forum that one of the Northfields councillors said there was no chance of any new allotment sites being made available in Ealing. So, who is right?

    Comment by David Highton — July 1, 2009 @ 2:58 pm


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A local residents’ group – West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) - Also runs WEN Abundance. We pick unwanted fruit and turn it into juice, cordial, jam and chutney to sell in the local area. All profits are ploughed back into the project. Please email wenabundance@gmail.com If you are interested in volunteering, or have a fruit tree to pick!

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