Hall’s shoddy deal with ‘ragbag’group
COUNCILLOR Hall’s letter [Party acting in the public interest, Observer, June 20] is dishonest in the extreme.
The undemocratic ragbag which temporarily controls Harrow Council is only there because Councillor Hall contrived and conspired with them in advance striking a shoddy deal which she thinks will be to her political advantage with no thought for what is in the best interests of Harrow residents.
The idea that ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’ Mrs Hall rode to the rescue of the council is too ridiculous for words. Her party now chairs nearly all the council committees and has two non-voting members of the cabinet, but to give Mrs Hall credit she did veto Councillor Akhtar being a cabinet member. Mrs Hall now exercises power without responsibility, to quote a famous phrase.
Due to her actions the council faces dangerous instability at a very critical time for all councils in the country. Mrs Hall did not ‘steady the boat’ as she claims.
As the Municipal Journal put it, it is the council officers who have come to the rescue and saved the boat from being wrecked on the rocks. We should be very grateful to them.
Mrs Hall’s irresponsible behaviour shows how unfit she is for public office. Local residents will not forgive her.
COUNCILLOR BILL STEPHENSON
(Leader of the Council 2010 - 2013)
n Councillor Susan Hall, Leader of the Conservative Group, responded: Councillor Bill Stephenson is clearly angry about the split in the Labour Group, but that’s no reason to spit venom at me. He calls the council’s Independent Labour administration an ‘undemocratic ragbag’, yet it was Labour who voted unanimously for Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar to become leader of the council last November – with Mr Stephenson himself saying that, ‘under Mr Idaikkadar, we will continue to show how it is done’.
Mr Stephenson writes of Conservatives having ‘power without responsibility’, ignoring that Independent Labour still chair the major decision-making committees and occupy all the voting positions on cabinet.
Incidentally, the Labour Group apparently refused to take the same non-voting positions on cabinet that we have, and bothered contesting only a quarter of chairmanships.
So much for ‘we can learn and understand so much by working together’, to quote Mr Stephenson again.
As for the Conservatives ‘riding to the rescue’; if we were merely interested in political advantage, we would have watched as the chaos in Labour tore the council to pieces to the detriment of the people of Harrow – the people that we were all elected to serve. We stopped Labour sacking Mr Idaikkadar, not because we support him and the decisions his administration is making, but because we know stability keeps the many services going that our residents expect and rely upon. I’m honestly sorry if Mr Stephenson is struggling to see this, but he does seem to be rather blinded by hate.
Library gets zero ergonomics rating
WHEN Brent Council announced plans to close half of its libraries, residents were promised that the new Civic Centre library would be ‘state of the art’ and green.
I beg to differ after my first visit. Yes, there is more space and seven-day opening, but there was also only one librarian dealing with queries and she had a queue of seven people by the time I left. The old Town Hall library usually had two people dealing with enquiries.
The Civic Centre librarian workstation/issuing desk could not be used by more than one person and scores zero for ergonomics.
There was barely space on it for the single keyboard and monitor.
To enter data, the librarian held the book in one hand as there was nowhere to rest it. Moreover, she was standing! People type more quickly and accurately when seated and using two hands.
And well-designed seating and work stations also reduce the incidence of unnecessary strain.
My wife enquired at reception about bike racks for visitors to the Civic Centre.
She was told there are four in the basement. At one stage we were led to believe there would be secure cycle racks for 200 bikes at the Civic Centre.
n In response, a Brent Council spokesman stated: “The librarians in Wembley Library are not ‘static’ behind an issue desk, but offering ‘floating’ support.
The new library is well-designed and has received a lot of compliments about its design from visitors.
Brent Council advertised the move to the Civic Centre widely and gave people plenty of notice about changes.
There are plenty of bike racks for visitors at the side of the building and we encourage visitors to cycle.
“There are 25 bike racks to the side of the building and more in the basement for employees.”
Thanks for saving our Arts Centre
I AM just writing to thank the staff and volunteers of the Harrow Arts Centre for the magnificent programme they present at the centre. The staff that I have met have been polite and hard working, this also applies to the volunteers who work at the centre.
This is a letter really to congratulate them to have rallied the centre from the doldrums and near bankruptcy to programmes of excellence and a joy to the whole community.
It is a joy to have such a facility for the whole borough to enjoy. Long may the staff stay and keep improving the programme.
Police chief needs more resources
I FULLY support the aim of the Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens, to make Harrow the safest borough in London [Community asked to fight crime, Observer, June 27).
However following your story MP calls cuts to police ‘reckless’ [June 20] we learnt that the number of police officers in Harrow has fallen by 22 per cent since March 2010, from 519 to 403.
Let us hope that the Mayor of London will give Mr Ovens the resources to carry out this aim.
COUNCILLOR PHILLIP O’DELL
Wealdstone ward councillor and Labour group lead member for environment and community safety
Councillors are in it for themselves
PRESUMABLY the Conservative councillors are ‘uneasy’ about the outsourcing of leisure services, passed last month by the council, because they haven’t seen the magic figures.
Calculations which supposedly conjure up more money for spending while cutting the expenditure.
Passing the management of the services to a third party while retaining the decision making role. Does this mean fewer managers? It sounds like it means more. How is this alchemy supposed to work?
We are used to smoke and mirrors at Harrow Council but in the past, at least we had an opposition in the chamber. Now the Conservatives are in bed with the rebels who usurped the Labour council.
If ever there was a clear indication that councillors are in it entirely for themselves, this must be it. Councillors are voted in on mostly party lines. Voters have little choice.
They know something of the party policies, while the candidates are mostly invisible before and after elections.
For the Conservatives to join the ranks of the breakaway group which has wrested control from its own party shows a remarkable disregard for the public will.
Should we be surprised?
English councils enjoy the luxury of being self-regulating, so there is no outside body that can intervene.
There is nothing voters can do because the solution is not to be found at the ballot box either.
Since councillors are a self-selecting group of people with no professional knowledge of the decisions they are supposed to take, and entirely dependent for these on the advice of council officers, do we need councillors at all?