Group hopes to stand candidates in every ward at next election
March 17, 2021
A grassroots group “fed up” with how Ealing Council is run, has launched ahead the 2022 local elections.
Ealing Independents hopes to gather candidates to stand in every ward in the borough in a challenge to party politics which it believes is falling short of serving residents and businesses across the borough.
Leslie Bunder, a consultant who has lived in the borough for 40 years, founded the group, taking inspiration from the Somerset town of Frome where independents run the town council.
He said, “They decided they had enough of their local council and basically set up Independents for Frome to take back control of their council. They are now in charge.”
While on a smaller scale, Leslie believes Frome’s discontent with local politics also applies to Ealing, with residents wanting better services, more transparency over how money is being spent and not feeling taken advantage of.
In the borough, Ealing Council is facing heavy backlash over several schemes such as plans to redevelop Perceval House including a 26-storey tower block and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
“Looking at the local perspective it’s ‘oh my word all this is happening in Ealing’. People are asking questions, people are really fed up of how developments are happening here, these big housing projects but we are not seeing council housing for people,” the-53-year-old said.
“I started seeing things and asking questions like ‘why don’t we have better street lighting?’ ‘Why are the streets really dirty?’ I started questioning: ‘What’s Ealing great for?’”
And while the Park Royal resident says that Ealing has “wonderful parks”, he added: “Unfortunately there isn’t really a lot of Ealing that is great anymore or brilliant…we have so many brilliant people that live here from Acton to Southall. Part of the issue is we don’t really represent all the wonderful people.
“I could sit back as a keyboard warrior and do nothing and just moan, or I could put my mind to it and say ‘hey you know what if the good people of Frome could take control of their council, let’s try to do it in Ealing’.”
Leslie blasts the political party system where councillors have their “first commitment” as the party regardless of being Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem in the case of Ealing borough’s make-up.
“What we are saying is we don’t have any party commitments, we are only answerable to the people of Ealing,” Leslie added.
Under Ealing Independents, he says candidates would stand under a shared vision and manifesto for the borough.
On its launch website, it details it is not a political party but has formed as a group “to support the importance independent candidates can play in local elections”.
And Leslie added he hopes it can be an umbrella alliance of campaign groups across the borough helping them achieve their objectives.
He said, “It’s fun because we are listening to people and people are feeling empowered in terms of their suggestions…they are excited to actually make a change.”
But he believes the 2022 local elections will just be the beginning of the independents’ presence in the borough.
“It’s not just about now, it’s the future, 2026, we have to start at some point, that point is now,” he says.
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Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter