How has Ealing Council leader, Cllr Julian Bell, been able to hold on to a desperately needed family sized ‘social home’ when he owns a £1m private home?

Residents on the Ealing Today forum are questioning how the council leader, Cllr Julian Bell, is still holding onto a scarce ‘social home’ some 9 years after he bought a private home in a neighbouring road in Acton, now worth £1m. Bell and his wife are secure tenants of housing association A2Dominion, however, in June 2007 they purchased a 5 bedroomed, three-storey house for £585,000 and residents want to know why such a drastic change in the Bell’s circumstances did not lead to A2Dominion taking the publicly subsidised home off the Bells and giving it to one of the thousands of families in genuine need. It seems Cllr Bell claims he lives in the private house with his daughter but says he needs the social house for his elderly, disabled mother-in-law. He also claims that since 2007 he’s been trying to make the private house suitable for the elderly parent to live in too and in March 2009 he submitted plans to install downstairs washroom facilities. However, 9 years later this has still not been done and the housing association continues to let him away with keeping his second home, depriving a needy family of a 4 bedroomed home while Bell makes money letting surplus bedrooms to students.

Is this the result of another conflict of interest concerning the council leader? It turns out his social landlord A2Dominion is also one of the property developers sponsoring  MIPIM, the controversial jolly in Cannes, that Cllr Bell enjoys going to each year.

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Ealing Council in Private Eye’s ‘Rotten Boroughs’ page twice

Private Eye reports;

EALING
Council leader and officers jet off to a property shindig in Cannes with their expenses paid by the very developers who want to regenerate sunny Ealing.

The story refers to the council leader, Julian Bell, and several officers jetting off to the south of France to get to know wealthy property developers, ostensibly to bring their business to the borough of Ealing. However residents, already outraged at the nature and scale of recent developments Cllr Bell and his Labour planning committee members have given consent to, are voicing concerns that question the probity of it all. Bell, they say, is too close to the very developers whose approved schemes are cause for concern and residents say Ealing’s planning and regeneration functions should be separated to avoid conflicts of interest. At present the council leader retains executive power for both functions under his own personal portfolio which has stoked fears that the developer funded sponsorships, jet setting and expenses he likes to take advantage of could potentially impact on the council leader’s decisions.  After all, as they rightly say, there is no such thing as a free lunch!