A CHARITY co-ordinator was left 'astounded' when Harrow Council shamelessly tried to take credit for a successful independently-organised Black History Month evening, after providing no cash for such events itself.

Residents turned up at Thursday's full council meeting to demand answers to why the Tory administration had successively cut the budget for Black History Month projects from £10,000, to £5,000, to zero, thereby 'minimising the importance' of the annual project that promotes Caribbean and African arts, culture and heritage.

Questioner Ronika Akins told councillors: "Black History Month doesn't seem to be acknowledged at all in Harrow.

"Unlike Brent, which has many activities and events throughout the month, Harrow's budget has been reduced and reduced until now we're told there is no money put aside at all for Black History Month, which I think is appalling considering how diverse the community is.

"Since you took control of Harrow in 2006, you have minimised the importance of Black History Month by reducing the BHM budget from £10,000, to £5,000, to zero.

"Can you please tell me why you thought reducing the budget so consider-ably was a good move and why you feel that promoting and funding Black History Month is not important?"

Simon Jerome said: "Black History is relevant to all as it's the birthplace of history, so I am keen to understand your decision not to fund Black History Month events in the borough, while increasing funding for events such as Diwali?"

Councillors apparently then attempted to claim a celebration called 'In Search Of Achievers Closer To Home' as its own even though the event, held on

Monday, October 19, had been entirely arranged and paid for by Brent-based charity BTWSC, which was charged to hire Harrow's council chamber and had to put up with IT problems on the night.

The event had even raised money for the Easy Riders Wheelchairs, the chosen charity of the Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Eric Silver, who was present as a guest.

In attendance at Thursday's meeting was Ms Serwah, BTWSC co-ordinator, who told the Observer: "I was astonished to hear the council appear to take credit for our African History Month - event at the full council meeting.

"The 'In Search Of Achievers Closer To Home' event was organised, delivered and funded by BTWSC, a not-for-profit voluntary organisation without core funding.

"The council has since offered to refund the £165 we paid for hiring the council chamber. Much as we appreciate the offer, organising a successful evening involves more than just the cost of hiring the venue, and if the council wants to take credit for the successful event, it should perhaps consider bearing the full cost of the event.

"I have to say that the process that Harrow is supposed to follow, which sadly was not followed this year, involves the community in celebrating Black History Month."

Councillor Jean Lammiman (Conservative), portfolio holder for community and cultural services, told the Observer: "This year, although we had identified a budget to fund a Black History Month event, we didn't receive an approach for funding from any community group and therefore no funding was released.

"The council doesn't itself organise community events but has a number of annual community events that we sup-port either by helping with ideas, officer time or funding.

"However, we did support the event through free publicity in Harrow People and our council intranet."