Long hospital wait not acceptable

I WAS appalled at what happened to my 92-year-old mother at Northwick Park Hospital on July 29. She has lived in Harrow since June 1957 and, about 10 years ago, her eyesight started to fade, as she had macular degeneration in both eyes.

She was already physically disabled following a severe fall in her early 70s. More recently, she developed cataracts, so she attends an eye clinic twice a year for a check-up. It is difficult for her to get to the Moorfields Eye Hospital satellite clinic at Northwick Park Hospital. On the latest occasion, she was given a lift by a neighbour.

Her appointment was for 2.30pm. After getting out of the car, my mother had a fairly lengthy walk to the clinic, as the hospital has a shortage of wheelchairs. Having got to the clinic on time, the staff had to tell her that, due to a shortage of doctors, she would have to wait for four hours until about 6.30pm.

My mother and my father, who accompanied my mother and is also 92, could not wait that long. They had no food, no drinks, or anything else to help them through the lengthy wait.

I am writing to you, as I have no confidence in our MP, Bob Blackman, to take this matter seriously. Despite the fact he campaigned in 2010 on protecting the NHS, he and his colleagues have not kept that promise, and I fear what has happened to my mother is just the start in a dramatic decline in our health service.

I hope my mother’s story will encourage others to write to you and to the three Harrow MPs and tell them this not acceptable.



Harrow East Constituency Labour Party

Parking charge deters shoppers

SINCE Harrow Council in its wisdom introduced a charge for parking in Hatch End, a visit to the post office to check the price of postage and buy stamps for a small packet now costs me an extra 20p for the car park.

There is no post office in walking distance, so I have no choice but to pay this extra cost. But, of course, when I decide whether to do a top-up shop in Hatch End or in Morrisons or Tesco at Pinner, where I can park for free, I do have a choice.

Does the council not think that trading conditions are hard enough for small shops without driving customers further away?

At the very least, in return for my exorbitant council tax, I might surely have free use of the car park for 30 minutes?


Via email

A laughing stock over stadium plan

HARROW Council is fast becoming a laughing stock under the ‘secret Tory/Independent coalition’. The farce of The Hive football stadium planning application has been well publicised, but is not the only example.

The day before the planning committee deferred a decision on alterations, I attended the health and wellbeing board meeting to ask a question about priorities and consultation with local residents, but the question did not appear, despite it being submitted to the link on Harrow’s website within the deadline.

Other members of the public informed me this had also happened at the previous meeting. There have only been two meetings of the board and, at both, legitimate questions have not been properly dealt with. Why not?


Chairman of Harrow West Constituency Labour Party

n Editor’s note: Harrow Council is run by an Independent Labour minority administration. The leader and deputy leader of the Conservative group are non-executive cabinet members.

Field not intended as Barnet’s base

WITH reference to your article entitled Planning changes could hit the buffers (Observer, August 1), we would like to draw your readers’ attention to certain points that need to be made for the record, and to facilitate a clearer understanding of the situation.

In 2003, planning permission was granted for a stadium on Prince Edward Playing Fields. Building work commenced and then the company involved went bankrupt. The site remained derelict for years.

In 2007, the principle for a stadium having already been established in 2003, the council gave a revised permission for a more coherent form of development, with proper seating arrangements on the west stand area, but at a height well below the embankment, so not to be obtrusive to neighbouring properties.

The idea at that time was to create a football centre of excellence and training ground in partnership with Barnet FC, whose home ground was in the borough of Barnet. It was never the intention for Barnet FC to relocate to the playing field.

We do not know, nor do our colleagues, what happened after the 2010 council elections when Labour took control of the council, but it has become apparent that Barnet FC has been encouraged to move from Underhill to The Hive.

In July 2012, a cabinet decision was made to vary the lease such that, had Barnet not been relegated at the end of the last football season in May this year, they would have been able to play league football at The Hive on a long term basis. This was a grave error by the then Labour administration.

In the article, Councillor Sachin Shah is quoted quite extensively. One gets the impression that he is on the case here and cares about the amenities of those living in Queensbury ward, the ward he represents.

However, the problem is that it is very largely Mr Shah’s fault in the first place that people have ended up in this fine mess and so it is a bit rich for him to suddenly become so concerned about the unsatisfactory situation.

The truth is that, had it not been for the excellent campaign, the local residents have organised against the unauthorised 20ft higher stadium and nearly 40ft higher floodlights than permitted, and the public meeting called by MP Bob Blackman to show his support for his constituents, we doubt Mr Shah would have uttered so much as a word about this matter and would have instead continued to give in to the demands of Barnet FC to the detriment of the people who he says he now cares about.

At the special planning committee meeting on August 1, the committee was advised, at the 11th hour, to defer determination of the planning permission, and this was after it had been recommended for refusal, then changed to a recommendation to grant and then back to a refusal and then to deferment.

Talk about confusing. What is going on at the council? What confidence can any of us have in those who are in control of the council with the uncertainty all this has created?

We believe that the people of both Queensbury and Edgware wards deserve better from their ward councillors and the current Independent Labour administration, who must take responsibility for this fiasco.

We hope that sense will prevail and that both the excessively high west stand and floodlights, are rejected without delay.

In the longer term, we hope Barnet FC is given to understand that it has no long term future on Prince Edward Playing Field as their principal ground and will find a more suitable site.


Conservative candidates for Queensbury and Edgware wards at 2014 local elections

False economy of our public messes

I WOULD like to express my concerns over the untidy state of the open spaces around where I live.

I am a responsible dog owner who has lived for many years in Whitehall Road, a very pleasant part of Harrow on the Hill.

Both Grove Hill and Church Fields have been neglected terribly this year, and many other dog walkers like myself have expressed similar concerns.

I do not understand the logic of not cutting the grass at all on Church Fields, and simply cutting the pathway edges on Grove Hill. Additionally, the memorial on the corner of Grove Hill looks totally overgrown and disgraceful. This is an insult to those it is intended to remember.

I am aware of the cutbacks which we have all faced in the recent economic climate, but feel this is a false economy.

The amount of litter has certainly increased, and with that comes a general appearance of neglect, which then leads to increased graffiti and vandalism.

Surely this costs more to deal with in the long term.


Whitehall Road

Harrow on the Hill

n Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for environment Councillor Asad Omar commented: “The council has relaxed its grass mowing schedule in some locations, to give a ‘wildflower meadow appearance’ where residents can enjoy a peaceful and restful environment.

“We hope that this will increase the numbers of flowering plants which will attract insects, butterflies, bees, birds and small mammals.

“In the case of Church Fields, large sections of grass were already deliberately kept long, so we have adjusted our cutting schedule in the remaining sections to match. Both Grove Hill and Church Fields will next be cut in September.

“We have not altered our maintenance schedule for the war memorial in any way and the grass there has recently been cut. We also regularly clean the area of litter.”

Bad state of road is nothing new

I WAS interested to read that a Lib Dem councillor has called for Hardinge Road to be urgently resurfaced [Dangerous road is unfair to residents, Wembley Observer, August 1].

My residents will know that I have campaigned long and hard to improve road surfaces in our ward and am constantly asking Brent Council’s highways department to improve them. I have been aware of the poor state of Hardinge Road for a long time and have often requested that it receives attention.

What amazes me is that as Councillor Cheese actually lives in this road and has been a Brent councillor for more than three years. Why it has taken him so long for him to notice its terrible condition? Could it be anything to do with the fact that there is now an election in eight months time and he feels like he must be seen to be taking action? Or does he believe that the road he lives in is more important than any others in the ward?

Residents know that they can approach me with problems and local issues and I will take immediate action. The Lib Dems clearly fail in this regard, which is yet another example of why I was right to leave the party.


Conservative Councillor for Brondesbury Park

Innovative bids for extra school places

HARROW Council’s education department deserves the highest accolade possible for its outstanding success in obtaining nearly 3,000 desperately needed school places.

This could not have come at a better time. An unprecedented 15 out of the council’s innovative 16 bids were successful.

As a former, and founder, governor of Harrow College, I was particularly pleased at the success of the council’s bid to fund 80 places at the college for young people aged 19 to 24 with learning difficulties, a much neglected area.

Likewise, I join MP Bob Blackman and others in welcoming the government grant of nearly £8million to the College for a new business centre [College gets £8m to build business centre, Observer, August 1].

I hope Bob will also congratulate the council for its outstanding success and once and for all withdraw his comment about the ‘dead hand’ of the council’s education department. After all Bob, where the council was successful with its bids for school capital grants, the academy you helped was not, and it has told us it wished it had taken up the council’s offer of help.


Labour shadow portfolio assistant for schools

Harrow Council

Women’s cycle rides are a Breeze

It IS great to see Councillor Simon Williams promoting healthy living in Harrow in your letters page of August 8.

We have a low level of exercise, and high car use. Harrow has the lowest rate of cycling to work of any London borough, despite our wide roads and lovely parks.

Breeze, a British Cycling programme for women, can help to change this. Only one woman cycles for every three men, and some need to build confidence and practise before venturing on to the roads.

Volunteer Breeze Champions are organising a series of easy rides for women and I hope your readers will try them out. The next two rides are one for women and children, with fun activities, on Thursday, August 29, in Pinner Village Gardens off Rayners Lane, Pinner, and a longer ride for women around our parks on Sunday, September 8, starting by Harrow Leisure Centre in Christchurch Avenue, Wealdstone.

The rides are free, friendly and sociable. We always ride at the pace of the slowest, so nobody is left behind. For more information and to look for local rides, search the internet on ‘Breeze bike rides’. You can also ‘like’ our Facebook page, Breeze Network Harrow.


Breeze Champion

Moss Lane


Parliament rats a signal to councils

I READ that there’s a plague of rats and mice in parliament and that the taxpayers’ subsidy for the food and drinks bill for the House of Commons was £5.8million last year. I’m sure the menu was more varied than cheese on toast.

Is it possible that MPs, visitors and catering staff are leaving food waste lying about which should be recycled appropriately? Is that what is causing the invasion?

As with every other living thing, rats require food. If the Houses of Parliament cannot get their house in order, there is little hope for cash-strapped local councils to exterminate their rats.


Hamilton Crescent