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.