Hundreds of protesters are gearing up for another fight with Harrow Council after proposed cuts have reignited fears over the safety of parks in the borough.
Last year the authority U-turned on the policy to make savings by leaving park gates unlocked overnight after getwestlondon readers successfully campaigned against the decision for months.
But as the Labour administration look to make £75million in savings next year, the cut has been tabled as a possible inclusion in the council’s budget, which could be voted through in February next year.
Mic Sayer, chairman of the Harrow Recreation Ground Users’ Association, said: “We have fought this off twice now, and we will fight it again.
“Our campaign will be bigger and better, as we are determined that our parks are kept safe and secure.
“Of course, the council having to save all that money is not their fault, but the strength of feeling on this issue from residents is evident and we will make our voices heard once more.”
The Independent Labour administration backtracked on the cut moments before a cabinet meeting last year after a spirited protest outside the Civic Centre, in Station Road, Harrow, saw councillors cave in to the pressure from our readers.
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the opposition Conservative Group, said: “It’s as though Harrow is stuck in its own depressing version of Groundhog Day - every time we think plans to leave our parks unlocked are gone for good Labour bring them back from the dead.
“Time and time again Harrow residents have made it clear to the Council that they don’t want this to happen, and I sincerely hope Labour listen to them. Our parks are mostly unlit at night so leaving them unlocked will only increase the likelihood that they become hotbeds for criminal behaviour and vandalism.”
Other proposed cuts include closing the Harrow Arts Centre and increasing council tax.
Councillor Varsha Parmar (Labour), cabinet member for environment, crime and community safety, said: “The reality is that with tens of millions of pounds being slashed from Harrow Council’s funding by central Government, lots of options are being looked at to make savings.
“However, we know that in the past people have voiced concerns about safety and it is important to stress no decisions have been about locking park gates. The voices of local people will be very much taken into account through the ‘Take Part’ consultation before we announce our budget proposals.”