AN MP has backed a petition to reverse the ‘absurd plan’ to stop locking gates in public parks overnight.
Conservative MP for Harrow East Bob Blackman has offered his firm support to neighbourhood champion Christine Hawkes’ petition calling on Harrow Council to reserve their plan to stop locking public parks.
The proposal is part of a bid to save £80,000 by reducing expenditure in park maintenance and was included in February’s council budget, alongside scrapping dog bins which was overturned this month after public outcry.
Mr Blackman said: “Having only just faced up to the stupidity of its proposals to remove dog bins, the council is now continuing with an even more absurd plan with regards to parks. The council is essentially consulting on a policy which advocates ‘will the last one out please lock the gate’.”
The council hopes to enlist a team of volunteers to maintain and lock the 16 parks concerned at night, however, there is concern the parks could become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
Mr Blackman added: “It is unrealistic and laughable to think that the council will be able to recruit the sufficient number of volunteers to carry out this function across the entire borough.”
Christine Hawkes, 67, of Weighton Road, submitted a petition with 84 names to the cabinet in April.
She warned that drinking and drug dealing is rife in Harrow Weald Recreation Ground, which is classified as a police exclusion zone and only a few moments walk away from her home.
She said: “I went to a neighbourhood champions meeting and the police, who were there, were very unhappy about the situation. It seems to be a done deal, but I am hopeful. I know the council u-turned on the dog waste bin plan, so I am hoping for a similar decision here.”
Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for environment and community safety, councillor Asad Omar (Independent Labour) said: “These plans will save the council around £80,000 a year. Cabinet has agreed to make this saving and we are now discussing with park users, ward councillors and other residents how we will implement it.
“Harrow Council needs to make savings of £24million over the next two years. We are determined that these savings will not impact on services which affect our most vulnerable residents, but this does mean we have to make reductions in other services.”