THERE'S scarcely a day that passes without my giving thanks to a merciful and benevolent God for arranging for the two most contentious issues in the past five years of Ealing's life to have been planned outside the constituency of Ealing North.

The tram was proposed to pass through Ealing Southall and Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush without troubling us overmuch in Ealing North and allowing me to maintain my opinion that trams are a wonderful idea that could succeed almost anywhere outside the crowded roads of Southall, West Ealing and Acton.

Which brings us to the Great Leaf of Haven Green.

Although the proposed development would be built outside the boundaries of Ealing North the tower would be visible on the other side of the Argyle Road and so my opinion is demanded.

I rather like the feel of central Ealing. There are some lovely Edwardian and Victorian buildings and I feel comfortable amongst them.

There are also some of the ugliest examples of the worst excesses of the benighted modernism that cursed architecture in the 1960s to be found around Haven Green.

There is also another factor at play.

In terms of economic activity in the retail sector Ealing faces the perfect storm of shopping centres.

Most of my Northolt constituents shop in Harrow and many Greenford people head for Brent Cross.

Uxbridge to the west has its attractions and I know a lot of people who brave the journey to Kingston or Richmond for their needs.

When the new shopping centre at Shepherd's Bush opens we will face a squeeze on an unprecedented scale and the one pound of every four that is currently spent in Ealing will surely diminish even further. Does this mean that a new shopping centre is needed and even essential? I think it does. Should it be a tower that pierces the heavens? On balance - no.