Analysis Breaking Exclusive

Exclusive: councillors to spring emergency motion of no confidence against Ealing council leader Bell at any moment – and expected to succeed

Even right-wing councillors said to have turned against centrist council leader also facing court case

In a council meeting starting at the moment of publication, Ealing councillors will bring an emergency motion of no confidence against the council’s controversial centrist leader Julian Bell.

The motion will read:

This Labour Group:

• has no confidence in the Leader;
• resolves to hold a Group AGM at 7pm on 12 October 2020;
• instructs Group Officers to work with Council Officers to organise an annual Council meeting as soon as is practical thereafter.

The motion will be proposed by Cllr Gareth Shaw and seconded by Cllr Deirdre Costigan.

The motion relates to a recent admission by Julian Bell that the London Ambulance Service (LAS) has not been consulted in advance of the implementation of ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ (LTNs).

The LTN scheme involves blocking specific local roads with planters and bollards to prevent motor traffic ‘rat runs’ and has has proven divisive in the community. Local members hold mixed views about the scheme itself, but access for emergency services is a particularly contentious issue.

Bell was forced to issue a statement clarifying that the Council had not consulted the LAS ahead of the LTN implementation, even though other emergency services had been consulted in advance.

The statement reversed Bell’s previous assurance that all emergency services had been consulted in advance. – and support for the no-confidence motion is attributed to to Bell having misled the public, his colleagues and Cabinet members on the matter.

The LTN/LAS consultation is the latest in a string of local issues to have dogged Julian Bell, the most significant of which is the development of the old Southall Gas Works by Berkeley Homes into ‘Southall Waterside’. Residents have organised to pursue their complaint that they are being poisoned by toxic fumes being released from the site.

Ealing Council rejected planning application for the site years ago but the decision was overturned by then London Mayor Boris Johnson. Southall residents now feel Ealing Council has failed them by not intervening over the air pollution from the site.

Bell’s leadership has also been criticised over unpopular local planning decisions approving developments, including an ‘eyesore’ tower, that many locals feel are not only inappropriate for their surroundings but also have little provision for ‘affordable’ housing – only 14.7% in the case of the skyscraper.

Bell has also provoked anger by signing a call for a by-election following the death of a popular council before the funeral had taken place – and narrowly survived a leadership challenge in 2018 after controversy over his ‘flipping’ of the ownership of a private residence – eight changes in eleven years – while retaining a social housing tenancy in the borough.

Bell is also scheduled to appear in court next week, alongside local MP Virendra Sharma, to defend a claim from a local restaurant owner over an unpaid bill.

The SKWAWKBOX will publish the result of the vote as soon as it is known.

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    1. What a shocking thing to say – I’m sure none of the rest of us were thinking exactly the same thing…

  1. Skwawky, can you please replace “shocking” with “perfectly dreadful” – “shocking” doesn’t have quite the right degree of Bertie Woosterishness I was aiming for.
    Thanks mate.

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