NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch Champion? Champion of what?
I don't believe Harrow Council is approaching the issue of criminal behaviour and the public policing of neighbourhoods from the right direction.
To call a person a Neighbourhood Champion sends the wrong message.
Young people, when they see the lack of pride prevalent in too many parts of Harrow, believe no one cares. So why should they? They must just wonder how adults can have the audacity to tell them how to behave at all.
The situation may have, in part, been inherited by this council but it is there and affects the social issues it is trying to address.
Today's Neighbourhood Watch programmes must incorporate plans that not only address crime prevention issues but also restore pride and unity to a neighbourhood and improve community life.
I believe this council is missing opportunities. Take, for example, the Harrow People magazine and its repetitive pictures of smiling faces, just because the dustbins have been emptied on time.
As with politicians, these are always against a backdrop of well-kept, attractive homes.
The reality for too many people is quite different.
* Concreted front and back gardens, where any chance of social contact has been stripped bare.
* Houses and flats, a lot of them council owned, made to look like a lunar landscape pock-marked by satellite dishes. It is an ugly sight.
* The backdrop young people are growing up in and being expected to show approval for.
Is this the right impression to give to a young person to enable them to recognise the importance of social responsibility? I don't think so.
Importantly, it doesn't need to be this way.
Attractive terraces and flats - once a home you would be proud to live in - have lost any warmth of the original architecture, and are complemented by multiple waste bins and cars that are navigated by schoolchildren into their home.
We should be ashamed of ourselves because this is a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour.
Unbelievably, even when some people are given a nice place to live, very quickly the Sky and the DIY brigades come and turn them into a 'trailer park' and nobody does a thing. In many locations, residents just don't do this, or are not allowed to, so why not everywhere?
In the more upmarket parts of Harrow, things are no different. Bungalows and mini warehouses are built in back gardens, alienating residents and driving a wedge between neighbours. All this under the very watch of Harrow Council, which is asking us to endorse it as a Neighbourhood Champion. I don't think so.
It is wrong. These are the double standards, which Harrow is asking us to support.
What example does this give to our future generation, who Harrow is asking us to sign up for?
And this is before we have the 5,000 extra people imported into Harrow, all living in boxes along the same street with nothing to do.
Other countries are a lot smarter. I wonder how many residents from Douai, our twin town in France, long to come and visit us. Not many, I bet.
Although Douai has a socially mixed population, when you visit their website, they show off with pride their town hall, town centre, attractive streets and residents.
Look at Google Maps and you will see how their council and residents cope with off-street parking and, guess what, no dustbins in their front gardens or pock-marked walls for the next generation to inherit.
Click on Harrow and the world will see a list of bus routes. What does that tell you?
Maybe we can also learn from the American experience of Neighbourhood Watch. Instead of promoting the differences between people in Harrow, we should be reminding everyone of our common interest in making the borough a place we should take pride in living in.
We must set our sights away from the lowest common denominator and make it a condition to match the best. If that means ruffling a
few feathers, then so be it.
The French make civic pride and a sense of belonging a condition of its residents who live in their towns, and it shows.
Harrow exacerbates the differences between people and that is why there is no pride. Our motto should read 'Our Harrow, one community'.
It is not a council Neighbourhood Watch Champion we need to sign up to, this just is a delusion. We need a Neighbourhood Champion to change Harrow; how Harrow should see itself and how it shows itself off to the rest of the world.
Susan Hall, possibly the next leader of Harrow Council, could do this and make the changes Harrow needs. Then residents from attractive Douai may well visit us and the reward will be to all the people of Harrow who have helped make it happen.
Vice-chairman, Kenton Neighbourhood Watch