The troubles of controversial Ealing council leader Julian Bell continue. After scraping through a no-confidence vote by the council’s Labour group by a single vote last week, Bell was unable to find a single Labour councillor to propose him as chair of the council’sLocal Development Plan Advisory Committee (LDPAC).
As no one would propose Bell to chair the meeting – fellow right-winger Peter Mason had resigned after the failure of the no-confidence attempt – he was forced to nominate himself. But no Labour councillor would second him so he had to rely on Tory councillor Nigel Summer to second him.
But now even the Tories have turned on Bell, calling for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the council so that councillors from every party can participate in a no-confidence vote.
The new attempt to remove him is the latest in a string of local issues to have dogged Julian Bell. He has been forced to apologise for telling councillors all emergency services had been consulted about the closure of a number of roads in the borough after it emerged that London Ambulance Service had not been involved, which led to last week’s no-confidence move.
Bell also faces organised moves by residents of Southall over a development they say is , 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 is poisoning their homes, one of a number of unpopular local planning decisions, particularly the approval for an ‘eyesore’ tower with little provision for ‘affordable’ housing.
Previously, Bell has 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.
He was scheduled to appear in court today alongside local MP Virendra Sharma to defend a claim from a local restaurant owner over an unpaid bill, until the Labour Party controversially stepped in to settle the case with thousands from party funds without even consulting its ruling National Executive Committee.
Cllr Bell has not responded to requests for comment on his woes. Many councillors and local party members consider his position untenable.
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