Conservative Walk Out Over Leader's Housing

Council debate critical of Cllr Bell was cut short

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Ealing's Conservative Group walked out of a tense Full Council Meeting last night after a debate over the Labour Leader's housing situation was cut short.

Opposition Leader, Cllr Gregory Stafford, had moved a motion condemning Cllr Julian Bell and called upon him to 'publicly clarify his personal housing arrangement, the funding which has been received from the Council and the nature of his registration on the electoral roll.'

The Labour Leader is currently living in a housing association property, and owns another house which has been valued at over £1 million nearby.

Last night the Labour Group used their majority to close down the debate and the Tories walked out.

Cllr Gregory Stafford, Opposition Group Leader said: “The Leader of the Council’s breath-taking hypocrisy over his housing situation needs to be publicly aired.  It is morally wrong for the Leader of the Council to bemoan the lack of affordable housing, whilst living in a taxpayer funded house, and  renting out his £1m plus home nearby.  This is wrong on every level.

''For the Labour Group to all support shutting down the debate, speaks volumes about their values. They are clearly all in it together and unfortunately, the only losers are the 11,000+ residents waiting for social housing.

''On a matter of pure principle, the Conservative Group Councillors had no choice but to walk out of the Council Meeting.”

However Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Gary Malcolm said it was a childish response from the Tories :

"This is the third time I recall the Tories walking out of an important public meeting when there are important issues being discussed. Despite the Labour party wanting to stop anyone asking questions about Councillor Bell's housing 'situation', opposition politicians should stay put and discuss the issues that are important to residents. The Tories acted like children. Perhaps they should go back to school and learn how to behave like adults.''

Cllr Bell gave a personal statement to full Council meeting after Cllr Stafford moved his motion. In it he said:
"This is a smear campaign against me and my family. The relevant authorities have confirmed there are no grounds for an investigation. I met with fellow councillors to provide further information about my family's housing situation which has allowed us to care for my wife's 95-year-old frail, bedridden mother. It would seem that the lure of the general election has been too much for some Tory politicians and their activists and they are now repeating these claims in the hope that mud sticks."

After the meeting he added "Conservative councillors showed a lack of maturity and respect for the council and its constitution by walking out of last night's meeting. We all know we are in the run up to an election but their theatrical behavior was not fitting of the office they hold."

Cllr Stafford had urged Ealing's Chief Executive, Martin Smith, to investigate the housing matter, but a council spokesperson told us, “The council’s chief executive has concluded that based on the information available to him a council investigation would not be appropriate or justified. He has advised Cllr Stafford of this and reminded him that many of the matters he has raised have already been addressed, or fall outside of the council’s remit. He has also informed him of the other routes he can pursue if he wishes to take his complaint further.”


April 15, 2015