THE fact that planning permission has been agreed for the proposed Brent Civic Centre does not mean that the next administration is irrevocably committed to building one quite this size (£100million plus), whatever the financial circumstances the council finds itself in in 2011.
We have been told by Harrow's chief executive and current Liberal/Conservative administration that they expect the flow of funds from central government to dry up during the years between 2011 and 2014 and that they are planning to make at least £50million 'efficiencies' in that period.
Does anybody doubt that such 'efficiencies' will mean deep job cuts and poorer quality services?
In those circumstances, how could such a grandiose project as the civic centre, which could only be financed by more debt around residents' necks, be 'ring-fenced' from scrutiny as to whether we could then afford it? Yet that is exactly what is happening under our noses.
Councillor Paul Lorber defends this enormous expenditure because of the 'fantastic new facilities for residents' it would provide.
The case for a new civic centre on that site is strong, but events may already have overtaken our desire to have such a costly one just now.
I'm not even going to bother to make the point that many people would surely prefer better roads and pavements near their homes.
It is this Liberal/Conservative administration's own plans for at least £50million 'efficiencies' in the next four years that worry me. Does anybody believe this can be delivered with a freeze on council tax, without deep cuts in front-line services?
So, after the elections in May, if it is a choice between such cuts going ahead and this grandiose £100m building project, why should we go for 'the bigger car'?
At our recent group meeting, Labour decided that a majority Labour council would put the Civic Centre project and the so-called 'One Council Programme' of £50million-plus cuts, under close review after May 6. Neither we, nor the full council, were ever consulted about this programme, and so we view it entirely without commitment.
In the election campaign, that must be a major issue for debate which I hope the Observer, in its best tradition, will explore fully.
COUNCILLOR JIM MOHER Fryent ward Via email