Having celebrated Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) last weekend, on Sunday after watching the Ealing Half Marathon, I observed Yom Kippur.
A little like Muslims during Ramadan, on Yom Kippur Jewish people undertake a full 24-hour nil-by-mouth fasting of food and water, designed to deprive the body of nourishment and to concentrate the mind on a commitment to being a better person for the year ahead.
At the council during much of the previous week we had been discussing our Council Plan, which we put into practice a year ago, soon after the local elections.
These two things coinciding has given me a chance not just to reflect personally, but also on all the things that we’ve achieved over the last year at the council, and on the areas where we still need to do so much more.
Reflect back, and look forwards
We have done a lot. You can read more about where we have got to this past year in this recent article in Around Ealing.
There have, of course, been significant challenges in that time, and sometimes we are forced to take difficult decisions.
One of the biggest daily struggles is that all of us are facing into huge economic headwinds.
The impact is felt by the countless families with huge rises in the cost of their mortgages, or higher rents. And in everyday costs, including the price of the weekly shop.
And, for the council? Big increases in the costs of being able to provide our basic services – from placements for social care, to tackling spikes in homelessness and a housing crisis. And even the cost of keeping the lights on in our schools, community centres, libraries and our hubs.
The year ahead
But we know, as temporary custodians of this great borough, that our task isn’t simply to weather that storm, it is to do great things. And to fulfil the ambitions that you entrusted us with just over a year ago.
So, to build on the progress of the last 12 months, in the year head, we will be:
- working on an historic and previously unrealised ambition for a Regional Park in our borough
- taking our next steps on rebuilding Gurnell Leisure Centre
- making progress on creating a new swimming lido
- opening up local decision making with new Town Forums – and opening the doors to our Perceval House office building for more community use
- setting out our vision for how Ealing will grow sustainably and successfully in the coming years through a new Local Plan
- making sure fun becomes the primary purpose of our streets and our public spaces.
I want to finish with some words of thanks to you, our residents, as I reflect on how far we’ve come despite the challenges thrown in all of our paths.
Thank you. Not just for putting your faith in us, but for stepping up and stepping in to agitate for change, and for playing your part in making our 7 towns such connected places, full of identity and pride. I truly hope this will continue in the months and years to come.