Harrow has a zero tolerance approach to hate crime

Harrow is one of London’s most diverse boroughs. This diversity is a strength from which we all benefit every day. We enjoy a rich cultural life and have strong and integrated communities that include people from many different backgrounds.

There are more than 100 languages spoken in Harrow, yet we’re in the top 10 areas in the country for people who describe their nationality as “British”. That’s a neat summing up of what we’re all about – different but together – a safe and successful mix of people united in calling Harrow home.

Everyone has a right to assert who they are, and should be free to do so unapologetically and without fear of persecution. There have been many hard-won battles in this country’s history to establish that right and whilst challenges remain, we should be proud of our reputation for respect and tolerance.

After last week’s vote to leave the European Union, there has tragically been a rise in the occurrence of hate crime nation-wide, including elsewhere in London. Hate crimes are attempts to degrade our rights, to intimidate and dehumanise, to inhibit the pride we each rightly feel about who we are.

Hate crime takes many forms – verbal abuse, graffiti, physical violence and indeed any criminal action that’s motivated by hatred. I want to be clear – Harrow has a zero tolerance approach and I absolutely condemn anyone who commits hate crime or thinks it is acceptable.

If it happens to you or you see it happening to someone else, please do not tolerate, do not turn a blind eye. Hate crime is just that, a crime, and one that’s rightfully taken incredibly seriously by the Police. You can call the police, or you can report to Stop Hate UK on 0113 293 5100.

Cllr Sachin Shah

Leader of Harrow Council

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My first day as leader

Thankfully I’m a morning person and am normally up and working by 6am. However on Friday it was a little different from my usual Council work, where I spent my first morning as Leader of the Council with Team Leader Dave Garner and his lively crew for their morning waste collection rounds.

We all just assume that our rubbish will be collected automatically, and it was a real eye-opener to see how efficiently the team worked to get their rounds done. Collecting waste from all the properties in Harrow is no mean feat, it’s a huge logistical task and it’s a testament to our crew’s work that it runs like clockwork.

Next it was on to our Special Needs Transport (SNT) team – I joined them on their round to collect children who attend Alexandra School and saw for myself the compassion and care our SNT team show in their day-to-day work. In a twist of fate I also met one of my old dinner lady’s, who was a volunteer with the SNT team!

After safely dropping the kids at school I also returned to school – the school I went to as a child. It has now changed name to Heathlands but the fond memories (and not so fond memories of having to learn French!) came rushing back. As part of my tour I dropped in with a year 2 class that were full of energy and clearly enjoying all the new facilities that were built as a part of its expansion.

One of our biggest successes over the past couple of years has been our £100m school expansion programme. I know residents don’t always associate the Council with schools and big building projects, but the entire programme has been led by the Council with residents being consulted at every stage on issues like traffic and parking. We know it can be a pain when construction work is going on but we have a duty to provide a place for all our children in Harrow at one of our amazing schools that are amongst the best in the country.

After seeing our school expansion project at Earlsmead School I was off to Rayners Lane to visit some of the Borough’s budding entrepreneurs. Harrow Council won the award for being the best small business friendly Borough in London or our work in supporting local businesses and apprenticeships. I was visiting some of the ‘pop-up’ shops that we have opened up. These spaces bring life to our high streets and there were some exciting products on show! I particularly enjoyed hearing about all the exciting and new business ideas our entrepreneurs had! I also stopped by the Stanmore Innovation Centre to meet the local businesses there. Small and family run businesses are the life and soul of Harrow and as a Council we’re making sure that this tradition will continue on well into the future. We are a business like administration, a business like council and a business like Borough.

The new Bentley Neighbourhood Resource Centre was the next stop on my visits – it’s an incredible place. As a Council we provide services for some of the most vulnerable people in society – something that is often forgotten. New Bentley is a special place. The patience and professionalism of staff is so heartening to see as they care for our residents with a disability. Government cuts have put the future of places like this at risk and as a Council we need to be doing everything we can to protect them and our most vulnerable residents.

My final stop of the day was to Harrow Police station. We need to keep Harrow as the safest Borough in London and for that to happen we need to work closely with the Police, who themselves are facing unreasonable and unrealistic cuts. Keeping our residents safe is the very least our residents should expect of us, and it was great to meet the Borough Commander to keep this top of our priorities.

After meeting so many dedicated and professional staff I am more excited than ever to Lead the Council. The list of challenges we face, from the Housing crisis to government cuts, may look daunting but I am confident we have the staff and the mind-set in the Council and across the Borough to take these challenges head on and Build a Better Harrow.

I want to end this on a personal note. For me, as Leader of the Council, I will always make sure that those who cannot stand up for themselves are heard. At the end of my time as leader, if I can say that Harrow Council has used its powers to deal with inequality, I will be really proud. I hope you can all join me in sharing this vision.

Cllr Sachin Shah

Leader of Harrow Council

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A Victory for the 159 fairer grant campaign

In Harrow, every single one of our residents receives £159 less money from central government than the London average. That’s how unfair our council funding is.

That’s £40m each year.

That’s £40m of missing money that could go towards services from street cleaning and care for the elderly to support for our most vulnerable families and children, amongst many other services.

That’s why at the end of last year we launched the ‘159’ fairer grant campaign to get Harrow back its missing millions.

That campaign has already claimed its first victory.

Harrow this month received £1.4m – out of the Transition funding the Government recently announced for Local Authorities. This funding follows our meetings with Government – meetings that were backed up by our pragmatic approach across London.

This proves that our arguments are resonating with Government. We would not have received this funding without this time and effort – or without the support of Harrow’s people.

The problem is, that while Government gives a little with one hand – it continues to take a lot with the other. Public Health grant funding has been the latest victim – with an extra £1.2m cut thanks to the Government. This is what we have come to expect from David Cameron and George Osborne, as local councils continue to be hardest hit.

Central Government cuts are forcing us to make £83m of savings across Harrow Council and our services from 2014 to 2018. This is well over 50% of our controllable spend on services from parks maintenance to people with a disability to support for our young jobseekers and enterprises, to name just a few.

Harrow and our communities deserve better.

So we will continue to fight for a fairer grant and get Harrow more of its missing millions back. Thank you to all residents that have supported the campaign to date.

You can sign up to join our fight at www.harrow.gov.uk/harrow159

Cllr David Perry

Leader of Harrow Council

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A year for keeping to resolutions

I hope everyone has got back into the swing of things after what I hope was a refreshing break over the New Year’s period. I also hope that everyone has been able to stick to their New Year’s resolutions!

For Harrow Council, our New Year’s resolutions couldn’t be clearer. Over the last year we established a reputation for being a good Council to do business with. To pick out the highlights from a long list: we won an award for being the “best small business friendly” Council in London; successfully bid for £1.5m from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund to support the creation of new jobs, work spaces for businesses and a public square in Wealdstone; created over 200 apprenticeships and jobs for our young people and set up numerous shared service arrangements with other Councils. Harrow Council means business.

2016 will see us become even more commercial. Every penny we make through sharing services and being more commercial is another penny that can be spent on vital services from care for children with a disability to parks maintenance and care for the elderly and vulnerable – all of which are being put under financial pressures due to the £83m of Government cuts imposed onto Harrow Council and our residents.

More shared service arrangements are already on their way – I would like to thank officers for all their hard work on these projects.

On the subject of being more business-like, this month I attended a very successful launch of Project Infinity – our exciting new plan for adult social care in Harrow to improve our support and care for the vulnerable, people with a disability and their carers. The event ran very smoothly, and all of the many external partners I spoke to at the meeting were extremely impressed. I have no doubt that this launch will be a springboard into making this project a reality in the coming weeks and months.

Best wishes to all staff for the New Year and I look forward to working with you over the coming months.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of Harrow Council

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A Reflective Month for Harrow

It has been a reflective few weeks for Harrow and our communities.

We were all shocked and horrified by events in Paris over the weekend. I am sure that we all thought of our loved ones as we saw the horrendous scenes in Paris unfold.

Harrow’s diversity has always been its strength; it has been touching to hear from across our many communities the expressions of condolence, peace and solidarity with the families who have lost loved ones in this tragic incident. This is also a reminder of the victims of terrorist atrocities that are happening across the world and our thoughts and prayers are with all their families.

Our deepest sympathies go to the friends and families of the members of our community and former Council staff that have recently passed away.

I was personally in attendance for the funeral of Clifton Jackson, a former member of staff whose work on sports development in Harrow has given hundreds of children of all ages the opportunity to pick up a sport – this will have a lasting impact on the lives of children across Harrow. Rightly so, his funeral was a fitting tribute to someone who has given so much to our Borough.

I would also like to pay tributes to Keith Chilvers. Keith was incredibly generous with his time and as an active volunteer was well known and respected in the Council, local voluntary sector and our communities. His work with Harrow Community Radio and involvement with the Harrow’s Heroes event will be long remembered.

Our thoughts are also with the family of the Mayoress whose father passed away last week. As Councillors and as a Council we will do all we can to support the Mayoress’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of Harrow Council

 

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Harrow Council working hard to protect our resident’s services

It’s been a busy few months for the Council.

We have successfully hosted the signing of the Council formally adopting the British Sign Language Charter – showing the Council’s commitment to equality for both our staff and our residents.

As part of our ambitious regeneration plans we hosted a regeneration launch inviting industry leaders to see our plans to build a better Harrow. Discussions took place with local and regional developers and companies as we begin our plans to build affordable homes, schools, leisure, community and entertainment venues across the borough. This is just the first step as our regeneration plans begin to build up steam.

We have also held our first residents panel, where we have bought together residents from across the borough, to represent all of our communities and to bring together a range of expertise to feed into our regeneration plans. As we redevelop the borough we need to be working closely with residents at all times, and this panel will be just one of the many ways in which we consult with residents over the coming months.

In other news, national decisions continue to have local consequences that will put all our local services at risk. These include, but are not limited to, pressures in the NHS caused by unrealistic ‘efficiency’ targets, proposals for £800m of further cuts to the Metropolitan Police which led London’s Chief Police officer Sir Bernard Hogan – Howe to say that ‘I genuinely worry about the safety of London,’  as well as the Council’s own cuts of £83m from 2104 to 2018. With this level of cuts in all public services we will be working collaboratively with all public services in Harrow to protect the services that our residents rely on.

Our housing department have also been busy drawing up mitigation plans to the Government’s increasingly destructive housing polices, that are driving up rents, forcing our residents out of the borough and are making buying a house unaffordable for all but the wealthiest. Our campaigns on these issues to stand up for local residents will continue in the coming months.

I would like to thank all staff for their continuing hard work, in what is a difficult time for Harrow.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of the Council

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Eid-ul-Adha

On behalf of Harrow council we would like to send our warmest wishes to staff and residents observing Eid-ul-Adha. This festival of sacrifice marks the end of the Haj pilgrimage and is a chance for Muslims to come together in a tradition of giving and sharing with friends and family, but most importantly to those in need.

We know that in Harrow, and across the world, many of you will come together on the 24 September to mark this day.

Harrow Council is holding an event, on 26 September, in conjunction with the Harrow Muslim Council and other Muslim organisations in the Council Chamber to mark this special day.  It will be attended by the Mayor of Harrow and other religious leaders.

However you mark this day we hope that you and your family enjoy Eid-ul-Adha.

Best wishes and Eid-Mubarak.

Leader of Harrow Council David Perry and CEO Michael Lockwood

 

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Building a better Harrow

This week at Cabinet we will be voting on our proposals for the redevelopment of the Civic Centre, which I am sure you read about last week.

45 years ago, Harrow Council built this Civic Centre because local government was growing and workers needed a building to match.

Today, with the cuts faced by every Council, local government is changing all around the country. Harrow Council is becoming a smaller organisation that prizes value for money, adaptability and efficiency. We simply don’t need this huge, costly, outdated building any longer. It is time to do the same as our predecessors and find a more appropriate home.

We searched this borough exhaustively to find a new office for this Council. Our discoveries are plain to see in the Cabinet papers. It is right that Wealdstone should be our destination. With major regeneration projects already underway in the Heart of Harrow, there is no place more fitting for us to see our future.

To replace our current offices, which have served their purpose so well, we will return this site to its original use. With the land we’re leaving, and our car park in Greenhill Way, we are going to create great new places for our residents. We are going to build affordable homes, schools, new public spaces, business opportunities and community facilities.

The price of these plans – is nothing at all.

We will create a new, vibrant community at zero cost to our taxpayers.
We are absolutely determined that there will be zero cost for all this to the Council Tax payers of Harrow. Every penny will be funded by the money we earn by developing our land, from national and regional grants that we win, from inward investment and external funding.

In fact, our plans show that our regeneration programme will return a surplus to the taxpayers of Harrow, running into millions of pounds. For years to come, these developments will deliver large annual returns that we will invest into vital local services.

These plans show that we’re building a better Harrow together, for today, and for future generations.

We are creating the places and the opportunities that our communities deserve: a thriving, modern and vibrant borough that makes Harrow a home to be proud of.

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Moving forward

I am sure that many of you followed the chancellor’s recent budget announcements. The £20bn of cuts announced for non ring-fenced departments, including the Department for Communities & Local Government, are challenging and likely to result in even further cuts for Councils, including Harrow.

These further reductions to our budget means we have to think hard about how we can save money. It also means that we need to look at how we can generate income to protect the vital services our residents rely on.  We have managed to make significant savings through sharing services with other Councils and renegotiating contracts with our suppliers to get the best value possible – but we can’t end there. 

We need to look at other ways to generate income and I am positive that our commercialisation plans can do this – the more money we generate by selling our services to other councils, the more services for our residents we can protect.  We have already been successful in establishing an award winning Harrow & Barnet legal partnership that is providing legal advice to other councils.

Now we are looking to expand into other areas. We are purchasing commercial properties, establishing a residential Lettings Agency and setting up a commercial recruitment business. We are also looking at how we can maximise the council’s assets, whether this be by making better use of the buildings or land we own, to generate income.  If we can do this we are able to protect our services from street cleaning to care for the elderly.

At the Annual Local Government Association conference that Michael Lockwood and I attended it was pleasing to see that in many areas, such as commercialisation, Harrow Council was ahead of the curve and already delivering savings on projects other Councils are just beginning to look at.

On this note, I was extremely impressed by all of the original ideas put forward at the launch of Project Phoenix by staff. The ambitious target to make our environmental services cost neutral by 2020 is exactly the kind of aims this Council will need in the face of the scale of the cuts imposed on us. The collaboration and willingness to explore new ideas was evident throughout and I look forward to working with all staff and residents to make this ambition a reality.

I would like to end by thanking all staff for their continued hard work. This is an extremely challenging period for both Harrow Council and our residents.  You have done an incredible job in finding new ways to deliver outstanding services for less money.

I hope you all manage to have a restful break over the summer.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of the Council

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Tunisia attack: Nationwide minute’s silence

Following the tragic events in Tunisia at the weekend a minute of silence was observed nationally today at noon to remember the victims and their families – this mark of respect was also observed by myself and staff at Harrow Council.  The attack happened exactly one week ago and resulted in the murder of 38 people, including 30 British citizens.

I approved the flying of our flag outside the Civic Centre at half mast, just as other local authorities and government buildings have done. Council staff were invited to take a moment to reflect on the events of last week and remember the victims and their families. Such tragic events reminds us to stand united during difficult times and it makes me extremely proud to be part of a very cohesive community of all faiths in Harrow.  I know all community groups across Harrow will be paying their respects in their own way for the victims of the shootings in Tunisia.

Our collective sincerest condolences goes out to the families, friends and communities who knew the 38 victims.

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