Harrow's new Conservative administration is to spend £500,000 making the area cleaner and safer and has enlisted the help of local police and firefighters
Harrow borough's new Conservative administration has unveiled its plan to ‘restore pride’ in the area by investing more than £500,000 to keep streets clean and safe.
Pressure from Observer readers last month forced the previous Independent Labour administration into a last-minute U-turn on plans to stop locking Harrow’s parks and cemeteries at night, but the newly-appointed Conservative leader of Harrow, councillor Susan Hall, wants to go a step further.
For the improved maintenance of parks, £100,000 will be set aside to ensure they are locked, clean and regularly maintained, and a further £60,000 will fund a team to address present problems.
Ms Hall said: “We are going to put the pride back into our status as one of the greenest boroughs in London. People in Harrow will start to see the difference in streets and open spaces over the next few weeks.”
A total of £50,000 will also be ploughed into the Neighbourhood Champions scheme to ensure volunteers receive the training and support required to carry out their responsibilities.
A further £80,000 will be spent on a five-person street cleaning team to tackle litter hot spots, environmental eyesores and support volunteer initiatives.
Extra sweeping for non-town centre shopping areas will amount to £75,000, and a further £90,000 will go towards the recycling support team.
Christine Hawkes, a campaigner against the plan to leave parks unlocked overnight, said she welcomed the investment in our parks.
Mrs Hawkes, who is also a Neighbourhood Champion for Weighton Road in Harrow Weald, added: “Since Labour were in power the neighbourhood champions scheme went a bit off track, but now Susan is in charge she has promised to get it going and it is good to have people looking out for their area.”
Reversing the plan to leave park and cemetery gates open at night will cost £70,000, and be taken from the council’s transformation fund. A further £35,000 has been put aside to keep dog waste collection continuing.
Not everyone is happy with this spending though.
Pamela Fitzpatrick, director of Harrow Law Centre, which provides free and independent legal advice to people who live or work in Harrow, says many people are struggling and clean streets is not a priority.
She said: “The announcement that Harrow Council has found £500,000 to clean up the streets comes at a time when many local people are struggling to provide for their families.
“At Harrow Law Centre we see families who must rely on local food banks because they face the harsh choice between eating and keeping a roof over their heads. We have clients who are brave enough to leave a violent partner only to find that the benefit cap means that they cannot meet the cost of their temporary accommodation. We see people worried that they will have to give up their family home they love, and ironically move into more expensive less secure accommodation, because they will be affected by the bedroom tax.
“Perhaps for some people sweeping the streets in Harrow is the priority. Others are more worried where they will be sleeping tonight.”
Councillor Sachin Shah, Labour’s shadow cabinet member for finance said: “Her new announcement will create a massive black hole in the council finances for next year, and shows she has not got her eye on the ball. This type of back of the fag packet budgeting is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous too. The people of Harrow deserve better.”