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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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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Thank you

It has been a real pleasure attending staff forums over the past few weeks, in a range of venues from the Civic Centre to Alexandra Avenue Clinic. Staff are the lifeblood of any organisation, and the more staff I meet and work with the more I am impressed by your professionalism and hard work, particularly given the enormous challenges we as a Council collectively face, and will continue to do so over the coming months and years ahead.

The Council continues to do fantastic work in supporting our communities. Following investment by the Council the Croft Pavilion in Pinner is now newly refurbished and fitted out with as a gym and training area, which makes it the perfect new home for the Harrow Boxing Club. It’s great to see the gym up and running and a massive thank you to all staff involved in bringing this project together.

I would also like to thank all the staff for their hard work in our submission to the Independent Healthcare Commission. I’m sure all staff are aware of the huge pressures faced by our local hospitals in North West London and our staff worked extremely quickly to set up community engagement events with a wide range of different groups to hear about our resident’s experiences. The final report identified a range of key issues that all local public organisations from the Council to the NHS need to address to give our residents the best possible access to healthcare in North West London; I am sure that it will be an important contribution to the final report which is due to be presented to the Secretary of State for Health before the end of Summer.

I want to end by drawing your attention to some key community events over the past few weeks. Harrow’s leisure facilities and parks have hosted some enjoyable community events from the 10th Annual Sports Day at Roger Bannister Sports Centre, hosted by the Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre to the Harrow Vaisakhi Mela Sikh community festival in Byron Park.

It was also a pleasure to attend the Mayor’s Annual Civic Service at St Mary’s Church, Harrow-on-the-Hill, as well as the Annual Flag Raising Ceremony to give thanks to our residents who are currently serving in the Armed Services. These traditional events are rightfully an important part of Harrow’s calendar and I would like to thank everyone involved who attended.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of the Council

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A great first year for the new Council

I would like to start by offering my deepest condolences to the family of Jeremy Jeeves, who sadly passed away last Friday. Jeremy has worked as a Librarian for Harrow Council since the 1980s, and was dedicated to serving the residents of Harrow. As a Trade Union representative he was a strong and passionate voice for staff and he will be sorely missed.

I would like to congratulate Cllr Krishna Suresh for being elected as the new Mayor and Cllr Rekha Shah for being elected as the new deputy Mayor. The Mayor making ceremony was a really successful evening, with a positive atmosphere and engaging speeches from all sides of the Chamber. I would also like to thank all the guests who came, some of whom travelled a very long way to be part of the celebrations.

I look forward to working with our new mayor and joining him on visits to the community. I know that Cllr Suresh’s energy and passion for the community will make him an extremely popular and well-respected Mayor.

The Council has been involved in some key community events recently; from the celebration of the Leisure Centre’s 40th anniversary to the on-going Leader’s Surgeries with residents. I In April and May I visited the wards of Pinner South, Rayners Lane, Hatch End and Marlborough. I have also had meetings with residents associations and community groups such as the Pinner Association to see how we can work together to protect our services from the Central Government cuts.  In addition I spoke at the staff conference with over 200 managers in attendance.

I would also like to congratulate staff for their excellent efforts in conducting a well run election process and count. Elections involve lots of hard work behind the scenes and long nights in the run up to Election Day.  All of the staff involved were professional and it is a credit to them that everything ran without a hitch.

It is nearly a year since the Labour administration took over the running of the Council, and we can already be very proud of what we have achieved as an organisation.

We have already fulfilled our key pledges; such introducing a period of free parking in our district centres and introducing on the spot fines for spitting and littering. We are also well on the way to fulfilling our pledge to support our young people into work, having helped 98 young people into work, training and apprenticeships – this is just some of the highlights out of all the positive work that has happened over the past 12 months.

Cllr David Perry

Leader of the Council  

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Open letter to the Royal British Legion in South Harrow

I would like to offer a huge thank you to the Royal British Legion in South Harrow for hosting the first ‘Meet the Leader’ event last Thursday.

Residents who attended were extremely pleased that such an event was hosted in their local area. They took the time to raise various local concerns with me, from road safety and potholes to housing and adult social care issues. Residents commented on how the personalised one-to-one meeting allowed them to raise sensitive matters that they would not normally raise with the council in larger public meetings.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one-to-one sessions with South Harrow residents, and I look forward to meeting residents and discussing local issues at the next sessions, especially as I know many residents are already booked in.

Over the next few months, I will be going to all four corners of the Borough to meet residents, so if you would like to book an appointment to discuss you local issues or concerns please email leaders.appointments@harrow.gov.uk, or call 020 8863 5611. To view dates and times for the upcoming sessions, click here.

I believe these events are what politics should be about; local elected representatives on the street corner, speaking to residents about the local issues that matter to them and their local communities.

I look forward to meeting you

 Cllr David Perry

Leader of Harrow Council


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Visiting all four corners of the borough

One of the most enjoyable parts of being Leader of the Council is having the privilege of being invited to events all over the community.

Last month I supported Harrow at the London Youth Games boy’s cricket competition, and I attended the Tamil festival, Thai Pongol, at Harrow’s Civic Centre. As always the Harrow Tamil Community Association do a great job of organising the celebrations and they put on a real show, complete with Tamil cultural dances and music performed by all generations.

I also attended some more sombre events at the council’s Chambers. Poignant memorials were held to mark the Holocaust and both the Paris and Pakistan Peshawar School tragedies, with speakers giving thoughtful and moving speeches.

No matter a Councillor’s position in the council, they are elected to support and serve their local residents. With this in mind, over the next year, I will be visiting all four corners of the borough to have 1 to 1 meetings with local residents to discuss any local concerns they may have.

If residents have any long-standing issues, such as housing concerns, problems with Council Tax, or persistent fly-tipping, please get in contact and book an appointment to see me.

The schedule for the first six months is:

  • 17th February, 5:30pm to 7:30pm – Grange Farm Estate Community Hall (Harrow on the Hill)
  • 5th March, 5:30pm to 7:30pm – St Alban’s Church (Headstone North)
  • 24th March, 4pm to 6pm – Belmont Community Hall (Belmont)
  • 2nd April, 9am to 11am – Daisy’s in the Park Café (Pinner South)
  • 16th April, from 12pm to 2pm – The Beacon Centre (Rayners Lane)
  • 30th April, 1pm to 3pm – Harrow Arts Centre (Hatch End)
  • 14th May, 9am to 11am – Harrow Leisure Centre (Marlborough)
  • 26th May, 4pm to 6pm – Knave café, St John’s Church (Greenhill)
  • 9th June, 2pm to 4pm – Pinner Library (Pinner)
  • 25th June, 3.30pm to 5.30pm – The Lodge (Headstone South)

To book an appointment please phone 020 8863 5611 or email leaders.appointments@harrow.gov.uk.

I look forward to meeting residents over the coming months.

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New year, new start on regenerating Harrow

A Happy New Year to all – I hope everyone had an enjoyable break over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. 

Whilst the New Year is an extremely busy period I wanted to update staff about some of the community meetings that have taken place over the past few weeks. I have met with Simon Ovens, the Borough Commander, to discuss the recent fatalities in Harrow. On Saturday I joined an anti-austerity march to protest against this Government’s swinging cuts and their impact on the most vulnerable people in our communities. I also attended a moving memorial event for the victims of the Peshawar’s school massacre in Pakistan, which was arranged jointly by Councillors and the inter-faith council. 

2015 promises to be a challenging year, with the budget in February and the on-going housing crisis just a few of the issues that we will be tackling in the New Year. 

Despite these challenges there are also a number of positives and we will be building on the progress we have already made to date.  With the support of our hard working staff we have presented a draft budget that, despite having to find £25 million of savings in 2015/16, still allocated over £700K of funding to hire more social workers to ensure the most vulnerable in our Borough are protected.   

And whilst Northwick Park Hospital’s A & E department is facing unprecedented challenges our Adults team is still doing fantastic work in caring for elderly people in our Borough, the personalised care that we give is still recognised as being amongst the best in the Country.

Just before the New Year we published our ‘Heart of Harrow’ strategy, which will bring over £1.7bn of investment to the borough from a range of public and private sources to build new housing, especially much needed affordable housing and infrastructure investment into schools.  These measures will go someway towards tackling the housing crisis and rogue landlords caused by years of underinvestment.  I am delighted that plans are well under way to start the regeneration of Harrow.

2015 brings a number of opportunities as well.  Transport for London have indicated to the council that they will be developing Harrow-on-the-Hill station and the potential extension of Crossrail could bring a boost to the area and the economy.  We have a lot of work to do, but there are encouraging signs that together we can build a Harrow to be proud of. 

As with all redevelopment, we need to ensure that it is local residents that benefit. We will be holding public meetings and involving residents in the design stage, so that residents can contribute to what is a massive and exciting development for the area. 

I look forward to working with residents and council staff alike in 2015 to champion our community in the coming year.

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