As we approach the election, voters will want to know what local issues are important to their candidate and I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk about some of mine.
Ealing faces several major challenges over the next few years that will rightly occupy the mind of the newly elected MPs for the area. Top of the agenda for me will be a number of transport matters.
We need to stop the further expansion of Heathrow airport, as pledged by David Cameron, if we are to avoid the unacceptable new levels of noise and pollution.
Crossrail is vital for Ealing and we must make sure that Ealing Broadway station gets an early upgrade when the programme is rolled out. We have been forced to make do with a station which is seriously unfit for purpose for far too long.
Improving the centre of Ealing, as well as Acton, is another key concern. Most of us agree that we need to revitalize our town centres but we must find a way to achieve that while maintaining the essential character that makes them such great places to live and visit.
My final thought is that one of Ealing's defining qualities is its green spaces. We must make sure that these are prized and protected."
As someone who uses Ealing Broadway station almost every day I know the issues that commuters face and how it can be improved. I would use my experience in dealing with transport issues and position as our local MP to work with TfL, Network Rail and Crossrail in order to deliver a station we can be proud of.
Entrance: The station entrance needs to be wider or the old second entrance/exit needs to be re-opened. There should be a mini-lift at the main entrance to allow full accessibility. The ticket hall size and number of turnstiles need to be increased. Screens indicating departure times and destinations across all platforms and lines alongside live bus information is also needed.
Interchange: A suitable transport interchange, at a reasonable cost, should be sought and funded through S106 money from developments in Ealing and with a contribution from TfL (this is realistic considering an interchange was to be paid for as part of the last Arcadia proposals and if Boris cares about Ealing then he should put some money here rather than removing transport investment in Ealing whilst spending elsewhere). This should be alongside a kiss and ride facility for private vehicles.
Access to and between platforms: With a bit of tweaking at the District Line end it would be possible to have two lifts to platform level on top of new escalators. There should also be a foot bridge at the bottom end of the platforms to allow easier interchange between platforms, such as in Hammersmith & Edgware Road stations.
Crossrail will be a huge benefit to the town, bringing the heart of Central London much closer to the Queen of the Suburbs. But the rebuilding of Ealing Broadway station for Crossrail represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring joined-up thinking to transport.
We need a transport interchange at Ealing Broadway combining tubes, trains, Crossrail, buses, taxis and pick-up and drop-off from private cars in one place.
It is a scandal that Ealing Broadway has no disabled access and this must also be resolved.
We need to give visitors and residents alike a much better introduction to Ealing than the current tired station, buses spread around Haven Green spewing out their diesel fumes and camera-generated tickets from the Council for anyone who dares to drop a relative off!
Most aspects of Ealing’s transport jigsaw are run at London level, and I have already repeatedly met with Caroline Pidgeon, the Chair of the London Assembley’s Transport Committee, to push the case for a proper transport interchange at Ealing Broadway.
Ealing Council has a key responsibility to drive this process forwards and is now waking up to the importance of that role. As MP I will have much more influence to get things moving and to bring all the key players together.
If we don’t act quickly enough, the station will be rebuilt for Crossrail, but the situation with buses, taxis and cars will remain as it is now. We will have missed this opportunity to make Ealing Broadway station the transport hub that Ealing deserves.