A time for reflection

With the last days on the 2023 calendar being gradually ticked off, it’s a time of year that tends to lend itself to reflection.

And, while some of us are tucking into a mince pie and looking forward to spending the festive period with people we care about, many will also be looking back at what the year brought us.

Of course, we have all faced challenges both as individuals and as a community, at various times. Not least, we have been facing into huge economic headwinds. But it’s important to also remember that there have been a lot of positive and memorable events, activities and initiatives taking place locally over the last 12 months. Some will leave memories that will linger for a long time to come. I can’t list them all here, and it’s not easy to pick out just a few.

So, here’s a little taster of some of what happened in 2023, month-by-month.

December – What a great honour it was to welcome His Majesty The King to Ealing and to join him on a tour around Pitzhanger Manor. This was the first official royal visit by the monarch to the borough since HRH Queen Elizabeth II opened the Broadway Centre in 1985. 

November – The council launched its bid to become London Borough of Culture 2025. We produced an ambitious bid outlining how the borough would use its year to innovate, transform and promote arts, music and culture across our 7 towns and create a lasting legacy for the borough.

October – We announced exciting plans for the potential creation of a regional park in the borough. The proposed regional park would provide a beautiful new space with rewilded land and woodlands as well as new places to improve health, play sports and enjoy cultural events right in the heart of our borough.

October also marked the rewilding of beavers back into the borough, after more than 400 years. They were released in Paradise Fields, Greenford, and I am told they are doing well in their new home.

September – A famous piece of local art was returned to the borough. The Wally Bird, a valuable piece of Martinware pottery, came home to roost after it was stolen in art heist. I found the history behind this of great interest and it is a cherished piece of the borough’s cultural history.

August - I had the pleasure of meeting with a small group from the 1,700 Ealing residents who, over the last year, have received help and support from the council to get themselves into work. The council continues to help those who face barriers to employment, and Councillor Brett and I were moved by the stories that were shared on the day.

During August we also celebrated almost 100 organisations having signed up to the Do Something Good directory, a one-stop website supporting people to find advice and access help from a broad range of organisations across Ealing. The site brings lots of information together in one place and it’s a great testament to communities coming together and supporting one another.

July – I love a summer-time stroll round the borough’s wonderful parks and open spaces, and particularly the energy in Walpole Park during Ealing Summer Festivals. The New Gen festival was a particular favourite this year, with many young and talented artists in the borough taking to the stage.

June – It was Pride month, and for the first time ever council staff took part in the Pride in London march. Staff representing the council’s LGBTQ+ staff equalities network applied to march in the London council’s section of the parade holding signs with the council logo adapted to be a rainbow tree, and the council motto, also adapted to read ‘Progress with Unity, Diversity and Pride’.

The borough also joined the rest of the UK in celebrating the 75th Anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush arriving on our shores. There were a series of fantastic events that gave thanks to a generation of people who left their homes in the Caribbean and made significant contributions to our community.

May– The borough celebrated the coronation of King Charles III with street parties, music, firework displays and more. The King’s coronation was a special moment, and a wonderful opportunity for us to come together to express our civic pride and celebrate together.

April – Experience of care became a ‘protected characteristic’ throughout the council, helping us to honestly acknowledge the additional barriers that being part of the care system can bring to light. We want to ensure that every child and young person in Ealing has a fair start in life, where they can lead happy and healthy lives, or purpose and belonging and pride.

March – The Citizens’ Tribunal held its first public meeting, The Citizens’ Tribunal was an outcome of the Ealing’s Race Equality Commission (EREC). It was established to facilitate dialogue between the community and the council, and to ensure that the council is held to account on progress on the EREC’s demands. This work is a demonstration of the leadership of Ealing Council’s commitment to openness, transparency and inclusivity.

February – This month marked the update of our Male Violence Against Women and Girls (MVAWG) strategy, setting out a strong commitment to reviewing and assessing the work that had already taken place in relation to MVAWG. We have made good progress and, as part of this, the council has launched a website, www.saferealing.co.uk, to provide local information and practical advice on staying safe and where to get help.

January – As we do every year, members of our community and local dignitaries gathered for a memorial service to remember all those who were victims of genocide. I’d like to personally invite every member of the Ealing community – regardless of faith – to join us at these remembrance events, to commemorate what was lost. The fundamental principle of Holocaust Memorial Day is to reflect, and collectively recommit to combatting violence and hatred in all its forms.

As custodians of our great borough, our work doesn’t end. The year ahead promises to be a busy one. And, as I mentioned in my September Leader’s Notes blog, we will be:

  • continuing our work on the historic and previously unrealised ambition for a regional park
  • 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
  • setting out our vision for how the borough will grow sustainably and successfully in the coming years through a new Local Plan, building on the work that has been done over the last 12 months and more, with various consultations and feedback from residents
  • and making sure fun becomes the primary purpose of our streets and our public spaces.

So, as 2024 approaches, I wish you all a relaxing Christmas period with friends or family – and a very happy new year ahead. Let’s make it a good one for our borough.

Best wishes

Councillor Peter Mason signature
Councillor Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council