Row Over Council Spend on New Car Park
£5.5m investment in Southall comes under fire
Ealing's Labour administration has announced plans to invest £5.5m creating a new car park to help regenerate Southall.
Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell said that there was a clear need for a new one with the council owned Herbert Road site now the most used in the borough.
Southall traders have been calling for the council to invest in a car park in order to support local businesses, saying that the lack of parking is costing them trade.
Cllr Bell said the previous Conservative administration had sold off a number of council assets in Southall raising £13.5m but had invested less than £1m in the area.
The council has previously invested £5m in the Good for Greenford scheme and is currently spending £12m on the regeneration of the Acton Town Hall site. £5.5m will now be spent in Southall.
Speaking after this week's Council meeting Cllr Bell said:
“This represents an important investment in Southall town centre that will pay for itself through the revenue raised from parking charges and it will also support jobs and businesses in Southall and help ensure that Southall town centre remains a dynamic and vibrant economic centre.
“Our administration has embarked upon a complete change of policy towards Southall. The previous Conservative administration simply asset stripped and neglected Southall and sold off anything of value. This administration will ensure we invest in Southall.”
Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall has welcomed the news but the announcement has come under fire.
Cllr Jason Stacey, Leader of the Conservative Group, said:
“I think for the first time in my life I was speechless upon hearing Julian’s announcement that they would be spending £5.5million to build a car park. Whilst I wholeheartedly accept that parking in Southall is a problem and support the keeping of a manifesto commitment, this grandiose spend in the current economic climate is not justified.
''When you consider that the Albert Dane Centre for people with physical disabilities and the LINKS projects for people with mental health are being closed because they require significant capital investment, which turns out to be less than £500k, this £5.5million spend on a car park beggars belief.
''Of course, least we forget all the Park Rangers and the Envirocrime Officers, which they have sacked to save less than £1million, despite begrudgingly admitting that they provide a valuable front line service.
''Finally, this amount of money is what you would expect to spend for a one form of entry primary school, which we are desperately short of. These type of decisions demonstrate time and time again, that Labour just doesn’t understand the meaning of the word priorities.”
Liberal Democrat spokesman on Community Services Cllr Jon Ball said:
"At a time when Ealing Council is slashing vital services across the borough such as Day Centres, axing most of our Park Rangers and threatening to close libraries, it is crazy for them to spend this much of Ealing taxpayers' money on a new car park. The Council should put people before cars and withdraw this plan immediately.
"Even in parking terms it makes no sense as statistics show that the existing Herbert Road car park in Southall is generally underused and the council's property strategy includes plans to sell off existing car parks in South Ealing and Hanwell."
3 February 2011