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Councillors face dramatic vote over their leader and traffic controversy in extraordinary meeting

Ealing councillors are set for a dramatic night over the authority’s leadership and controversial traffic-calming scheme on Tuesday (October 20). In an extraordinary meeting at 7pm, members from across the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat groupings will debate over two motions that could prompt a big shake-up at the Council.

The meeting was demanded by the Conservative group, and calls for the suspension of all the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and removal of all the bollards and barriers used in the scheme. It also demands a “proper consultation” with residents. It will also hold a no-confidence vote in Council leader Julian Bell. It comes after the revelation Ealing Council had not consulted with London Ambulance Service before the introduction of the LTNs schemes across the borough.

Councillor Bell apologised over the error, but the Conservatives opposition leader believes the Labour chief should resign from his post for the mistake that “could have risked lives”.

While there is some support for the schemes to give the trials a chance, the LTNs have faced backlash from residents due to concerns including lack of consultation, response times for emergency services and causing road chaos due to their design.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the LTNs motion will also call for the condemnation of the Council’s failure to consult the London Ambulance Service and to express “disapproval” over the lack of consultation with residents and councillor Bell and his cabinet’s “refusal” to listen to residents’ concerns.

The motion adds: “This Council notes that while Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) appear to be a good idea in principle, poor planning, lack of consultation and refusal to alter plans in the face of evidence by Ealing Council has led to them not achieving their stated aim, and indeed exacerbating the problems in some areas… This Council also notes that 9,000 residents have signed the petition against LTNs and that 3,000 people marched to the Town Hall in protest in September; including (but not limited to) teachers, medics, nurses, care-workers, elderly and disabled people, regular cyclists and walkers, and young residents. The Council further notes the application for judicial review of four of the schemes. This Council further notes that the failure by Ealing Council to comply with its legal duty to consult the London Ambulance Service before the implementation of this scheme may have put residents’ lives at risk.”

A second motion will also decide whether the Council has no confidence in leader Councillor Bell.

Councillor Bell already survived a revolt from within his own party where Labour members attempted a vote of no confidence in September. It is believed the discontent came over concerns over the implementation of the LTNs.

But the Council boss of 10 years narrowly won support from his party by one vote.

The vote on Tuesday will be heard in public in a virtual meeting, with councillors from all political parties able to have their say.

However, if the vote passes it will not have the formal power to remove a leader from office, under Council rules. On the LTNs vote, the power to suspend the scheme will still lie with the Council’s cabinet rather than the full Council.

Across other London boroughs that have introduced the schemes, Redbridge Council was the first to announce last week that it will reverse the changes to its roads due to an “overwhelming response” calling for them to end.

 

Article originally appeared on My London

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