For the past month, my colleagues and I have been asking residents to give their thoughts on our future budget, and they have done just that. I hope you’ve spotted the ‘Take Part’ stalls on street corners, libraries, Under One Sky and other events. I for one have been grateful for the feedback and suggestions people have given us. Cutting £75m from our budget over the next 4 years is going to be an extremely painful process and therefore I am pleased that as a community we are having those difficult conversations to see how we can protect our community together from the cuts which are being imposed on the Council. But nonetheless, the council will continue to deliver excellent value for money services, and it is essential residents continue to help us shape that process.
There have been some other events in October that reflect our administration’s values and priorities, that I want to go into a bit more detail on.
Last week was the Community Champions consultation conference, which was a great opportunity to meet all the champions who do such good work in our neighbourhoods. With over 1000 Champions in the borough, it is clear how important this scheme is to Harrow. However there is always room to improve and expand on the good work already being done. Whether it’s encouraging champions to work together to help grit a side street to champions working with a local voluntary organisation to support isolated elderly people along their street there is the potential and opportunity for lots of great work to be done in the future to broaden the scheme. After a successful conference and many Champions contributing to the consultation workshops, we can look forward to working with the current champions in the future to see what ideas they may want to take further to build and expand on the great work they already do.
This conference was followed by the Xcite job fair which took place on Wednesday 22nd October. Despite the budget pressures we’re facing, in July of this year we announced £75,000 to help fund the back to work project; this is money that will help over 300 people in the borough train for extra qualifications to help them progress in their career and learn new skills to support them in their job search. Low-pay is a real problem in Harrow and great projects like this, backed up by the necessary funding can go a long way to helping residents in our borough not only find but continue to stay in employment.
And finally, it was a real privilege to be at the Harrow Heroes Award ceremony on Tuesday October 14th. I was honoured to present an award and listen to all the stories of the selfless and inspirational work done by all the volunteers nominated for the awards. I would like to thank the council officers for bringing together the event and once again pass on my congratulations to all those nominated.