There have already been posts from others describing the extraordinary full council meeting at Ealing Town Hall held in the wake of the riots last night (here and here). Ordinary folk affected by rioting and looting in the borough during the Monday night and wee hours of Tuesday morning of last week addressed the chamber and packed public gallery and 2 camera crews. A Madeley Road resident described the terror of waking up to masked invaders at her door and others trying to pour petrol through the windows. We heard from the voice of the business community in Ealing Broadway and a member of the Park lane Gurdwara committee in Southall. Also addressing the meeting was Borough Superintendent Andy Rowell who defended the bravery of his officers. Here are in summary some figures that emerged from the evening regarding the night of Monday 8th and after:
1 motion, unanimously carried (condemning the riots)
2.5 hours of debate
2 clergy addressing us
6 non-councillors bearing testimony
2 standing ovations (for Borough Superintendent and Council Leader)
35,000 hits on the night to the Ealing Gazette website
20 youths in Bond Street, W5 spotted at 8pm early on that evening
300 rioters/ looters armed with bottles and bricks at the height of the troubles
35 officers 4 sergeants 2 inspectors left on duty in Ealing after a similar number had been deployed elsewhere
209 offences, 103 arrests, 35 search warrants
of the 103 arrests 41 have given addresses in the borough ie Acton, Southall, Northolt, Greenford, Perivale, Hanwell as well as Ealing itself. Of these 26 were juveniles (9 were minors from in-borough)
1,000 999 calls in the short space of time when it is usually 200 over 24 hours.
22 of the 33 London boroughs were hit
15 police officers injured, 13 public injured. 2 seriously injured Ealing police: in Hackney
45 street cleansing contractor staff out from 5am to the point that by 10am the majority of the mess was removed apart from 2 cordoned off crime-scenes
£250,000 business recovery fund being set up by the council from reserves
£1,200 immediate recovery grant available to businesses for smashed windows etc from council with possibility of interest free loans
£2 million youth centre due to open shortly in West Ealing: the borough is one of the few to have protected all youth services and has one of the lowest NEETS levels in London
To charges of being soft on what Mayor John Gallagher called “that ghastly night last week” Rowell answered “you can only be as forceful as your resources allow”. 999 calls were not answered as the few officers there were could not leave cordons ie 5 officers standing shoulder to shoulder at focal points. It was asserted that Ealing’s many backstreets and alleyways made the area impossible to seal off. Meawhile Julian Bell claimed “a tide of evil came into our town”. Ex-leader Jason Stacey declared that with 41 level 1 riot-trained officers taken out of the borough “It was like trying to fight an inferno with a water pistol”.
It looks like the continued stepped-up police presecnce will continue over the bank holiday. Councillor Bell and Supt Rowell both found their voices cracking with emotion at times in describing first hand events and both got a standing emotion. The message came over loudly that local traders/ restauarants/ shops need supporting with our custom as they feel vulnerable. In the meantime many seemed to think that community sprit has been strengthened in Ealing with a desire to see it, as Conservative Ros Reece said “back to the green and leafy suburb with which it is identified”.
Still lots of questions unanswered but a rare truce in the chamber (with the possible exception of disagreements over police numbers) on an unprecdented night to follow an unprecedented week.