I hope everyone managed to get some time off over the summer, and have come back to work refreshed and ready to go during what will be an extremely busy period for us.
With the start of the school term I am delighted that our School Expansion program is right on track, with all of our schools ready on time for the start of the new term. It’s also a tribute to the hard work of council officers and teachers that we have managed to deliver on the Government’s pledge to provide free school lunches for all 5 -7 year olds at all our community schools.
Our Budget Consultation with residents officially launched last Thursday. With £75m of government cuts being imposed on Harrow Council, and our residents, over the next four years the Administration has always argued that we need to have a conversation with residents about what services should be protected and how the Council should be run. This consultation is the start of this process and I hope that all staff, particularly those that live in the borough, will take part in this consultation and work with residents to ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear in the Council.
On the subject of consultations, I would like to say a big thank you to all staff that completed the staff consultation on the Senior Management Structure at the Council. This is a massive decision for the organisation and its only right that staff are part of the decision making process. A report recommending that Harrow Council reinstate a Chief Executive will go to Cabinet this week, to fill the damaging void left by the previous administration, as well as putting in place a management structure that we will deliver efficiencies and savings whilst enabling us to become a leader in West London for sharing services.
Also going to Cabinet are reports that deliver on our promises made in our manifesto, around introducing on the spot fines for littering and investing the first £200,000 of £1m in services to tackle Domestic Violence and support carers in the Borough. This major initiative will tackle problems including not only domestic violence but also honour based violence. These three issues go beyond injuring (physically and mentally) the victim but also scar the whole family. While women are often the victims, these abhorrent acts impact on the whole family. I want this administration to demolish the “behind closed doors” cover that so often masks these offences and work with our different communities to make them wholly unacceptable. You will see and hear lots more from the administration on this subject going forward.
It’s been great to see Cabinet members out and about in the community. Of particular note is PH for Finance, Cllr Sachin Shah’s visit to the Citizen Advice Bureau’s office with the announcement of over a £100,000 of funding for 1 -1 advice sessions; Cllr Simon Brown’s visit to Kenmore Park and Bentley Wood School as part of his Children and Schools brief and Cllr Sue Anderson’s visit with myself to the Indian Association of Harrow and Pakistan Society of Harrow’s independence celebrations.
Finally, it was a real pleasure to meet staff at the Talk to Paul events I attended. It’s always important that staff have a chance to ensure that their views are heard, and I look forward to meeting many more of you over the coming months.