Company that developed digital platform used employs Labour Councillor
Cllr Peter Mason
An Ealing councillor is claiming that the borough’s consultation on Low Traffic Neighbourhood Schemes (LTNs) will lack impartiality and transparency because of the platform being used. He is demanding an investigation into a potential conflict of interest.
The Council has given the contract to Commonplace Digital Ltd to use their online digital platform to capture responses from residents to the controversial schemes being implemented across the borough.
Council officers recently wrote to councillors saying, “Commonplace, an online surveying tool, has now been purchased and is being set up to capture formal responses to the LTN schemes as part of the consultation process. This tool will allow us to better understand residents’ perceptions of LTNs on a much larger scale.”
This company employs Labour councillor Peter Mason as its Sales and Public Affairs Manager. Cllr Mason was a member of Ealing’s cabinet until 29 September when he stood down after the failed no confidence vote for Julian Bell. He formerly had responsibility for planning and housing.
On announcing his appointment earlier this year the company said, “He joins Commonplace at a key moment for the company. The digital engagement platform is undergoing rapid growth as the prop and civictech standard bearers for inclusive and purposeful consultation. Commonplace’s platform, which enables the public to interact with plans and proposals for planning, infrastructure and housing growth has been key in diffusing controversial applications across the country.”
David Millican, a Conservative councillor representing Northfield Ward Ealing, which has two LTN schemes, said, “How on earth can residents expect a fair, transparent and impartial consultation on such a hugely controversial scheme when Ealing Council purchases the online digital platform from one of its own councillors; and the Council Leader is actively promoting support for the continuation of the scheme?"
"Let’s not forget that 3,000 local residents recently marched along Northfields Ave to Ealing Town Hall opposing the schemes; and over 9,060 have signed the online petition opposing for the LTNs, whereas only 750 have signed the petition supporting the LTNs”
“I await a response to my request to Ealing Council’s Director of Legal and Democratic Services asking for an investigation into the conflict of interest and whether the tender process was conducted fairly.”
Cllr Millican also claims that the consultation process has been compromised by council leader Julian Bell’s unequivocal support for the schemes on social media where he urged his followers to sign a petition in favour of the schemes.
We have asked the Council for a comment on Cllr Millican's claims and await a response.
Residents can visit the low traffic neighbourhoods' page of the council’s website for further information on the schemes.
Residents can email feedback to TrafficNotices@ealing.gov.uk, or post them to the Highways Service, Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, W5 2HL, quoting reference ORD XXX.
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October 8, 2020