Use overspend to revive Taxicards
CONGRATULATIONS to Harrow Council [Breakaway rebels have £10.8m booty, Observer, June 20]. I agree it is a ‘significant achievement’ to announce an underspend of £10.8million on the authority’s budget.
The council leader says “we fight to provide services which mean so much ... particularly to the vulnerable in our community”.
The council should therefore bring back the funding for the Taxicard scheme in 2013/14 for the elderly, disabled and frail. The Independent Labour group should now restore at least last year’s funding of £200,000.
What about matching the funding of £287,000 agreed by Transport for London, supported by the Conservative Mayor of London?
Harrow needs to know about HS2
FOLLOWING your story [Woman fears HS2 could have local impact, Observer, June 13], many from Harrow were among the 700 who attended the Hillingdon Against HS2 environmental impact information day at Ruislip on Monday, June 17.
After the realisation that the massive construction plans for the proposed high speed rail link have serious implications in terms of years of movement of construction traffic and road work disruptions so close to the Harrow borough boundary, questions were asked why this information is not available in Harrow?
Harrow Council should have ensured that HS2 Ltd (Department for Transport) provided libraries across the borough with the necessary literature and response forms through the government’s draft environmental statement consultation, which closes on July 11.
A detailed map of construction routes etc in respect of Hillingdon can be viewed on the Hillingdon Against HS2 website under Breaking News.
HS2 would have an impact on Harrow, but Harrow Council and Harrow MPs are not encouraging residents and businesses in the borough to have their say.
No happy ending as pool closes
I READ your piece in the Observer about how Harrow Council has given more time to The Borough of Harrow Swimming Club [Young swimmers are thrown a lifeline, Observer, June 27].
You quote William Stoodley as describing it as a ‘happy ending where no party had lost out’.
It is really good that the council has allowed a couple of extra hours to the club, although it has patently lost out, as it has to book other, expensive facilities.
The quote itself is misleading and highly disingenuous. As your paper has itself reported, 1,200 kids have had their lessons cancelled and 22 part and full-time workers at the John Lyon School sports centre face losing their jobs. Hardly a happy ending.
I only wish that Mr Stoodley and the council were as hot at dealing with the half-finished eyesores that blight the town, or sorting out the mess they made of parking restrictions as they are of closing down kids sports facilities.
You should challenge these half-truths.
Thanks for help at Under One Sky
I WOULD be grateful if you would allow me to say a big thank you to all who helped make Under One Sky a really great success this year.
It was a brilliant family day out with an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity which we have in Harrow.
Although there are challenges, I am sure that, with support from residents, staff and partners, we will come up with strategies to ensure next year’s festival delivers for residents with all the positives and none of the negatives.
We would like to thank everyone, but specially staff in Harrow Council’s community and culture department who put in hours of planning before today and several hours on Sunday. My thanks also go to staff from public realm who worked hard to ensure that our environment remained litter free and pleasant.
These are very challenging times for the council, with our particular local politics, challenging demands placed on our staff and unprecedented cuts by the coalition government.
We appreciate the hard work of our staff in these difficult circumstances. We also appreciate the support of residents who value the great opportunity to come together and celebrate Harrow.
There has been a lot of change since 2010, all done with the best of intentions. In retrospect, some changes could have been handled differently. This administration will listen and is not afraid to review decisions if the result will benefit staff and residents.
The welfare of residents remains our main priority. If the Independent Labour group can do anything to improve any aspect of life in the borough, please do let us know.
COUNCILLOR THAYA IDAIKKADAR
Council leader and leader of the Independent Labour group
Who was involved in consultation?
ON June 6, Harrow’s Neighbourhood Champions were emailed a copy of a public realm services briefing note.
Included therein were two important proposals for parks and open spaces namely: to stop locking parks and cemeteries, and to cease dog waste collection. The latter of these has now been addressed, but what of the former?
Further down the note, the statement is made that: “We have entered into discussion with ward members and users about how the implementation will be carried out and some mitigation may come from greater involvement from park users becoming involved in activities such as locking and unlocking parks and cemeteries.
“It is worth remembering that over 70 per cent of our parks and cemeteries are already left open.”
This suggests that consultation has taken place. Really? When? Where? Was it advertised? Who was involved? And what were the outcomes?
Did this process, if indeed there was one, involve any of the many residents living close to the various parks? And the police – what is their view?
The word on my street last weekend was that a named councillor had been heard to state that locking would cease from September.
If that is correct, when is a formal statement going to be issued?
Neighbourhood Champion for Park Drive
Why no warning of library closure?
I WAS saddened to find people turning up at Brent Town Hall library on Thursday, June 20, in expectation of returning their books and of borrowing.
In the space of 20 minutes, 10 people of varying age and background arrived to find the library had been transferred to the new Brent Civic Centre.
They went through the same motions – arriving carrying books and with a spring in their step, only to peer with disbelief and astonishment at the closed doors and each time having to be shown the notice on the door informing them that their nearest library was now Ealing Road or Kingsbury Plus, apart from the new Civic Centre, of course.
Emotions ranged from bafflement, to amazement to anger and an impromptu meeting ensued. The main thread was ‘Why didn’t they inform me? They have my email’; ‘I am a member, how come I have not been written to?’ And most striking of all ‘Why was I not informed by the staff when I borrowed my books last week?’.
A leaflet should have been handed out at least. It was heartbreaking to see the disappointment of the children.
Most peculiar of all was the large banner still on the outside of the building proclaiming Town Hall Library – Open 7 days a Week.
How much does it cost to treat people with care and give them a feeling of belonging rather than alienation? It is great to open new libraries, but at least inform and make it possible for people who have lost their local libraries to find books nearer to home.
We await arrival of Nigel Farage
The disgraceful state of Harrow politics provides a chance for the swivel eyed loons to become kings.
The council leader has been done up like a kipper – the Labour Party should have had the sense to take a knife out of the Ken Livingstone ‘how to rule’ manual and leave a bloody coup until election night.
And such is the viperish political sniping going on in the letters page of the Observer it should be renamed From the Trenches.
One could be forgiven for wondering if we have a borough of the politically paralysed and inept.
I suspect that many are fed up with the political parlour games, the posturing, positioning and the intrigue with a failure in basic delivery of council services, including park maintenance and scrapping of the dog bins, coupled with the daily mugging of the motorist, while a costly pet vanity project remains untouched.
Others may pray for silence from the incestuous pit that appears to be Harrow politics, with accusations of besmirching high office and self-evident backbiting.
We could do with some straight talking and oodles of common sense in the council – virtues often associated with the typical independent or ratepayer candidate. That brand is no longer strong enough to win seats and it seems the only brand with a reputation for straight talking is UKIP.
Let’s hope that from every part of the political spectrum there are enough swivel-eyed loons around to say ‘enough is enough’.
And let’s hope that Nigel Farage pops into the Pinner Arms one Friday night and tells us he is setting something up in Harrow for the next council elections that offers the introduction of some new blood, common sense and a politics based on practical and material factors, rather than a partisan ideology.
Contact the Elderly combats loneliness
WITH research showing that an average of 10 per cent of older people feel ‘always’ or ‘severely’ lonely (Campaign to End Loneliness), I am pleased to learn that Harrow’s health and wellbeing board has acknowledged loneliness and isolation as a serious issue that needs to be addressed locally.
For nearly 50 years, Contact the Elderly has been the only national charity dedicated solely to tackling loneliness among older people, aged 75 and above. With a network of more than 5,500 volunteers across England, the charity currently supports more than 3,200 isolated older people.
One Sunday a month, each older guest is collected by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home, where they meet with a small local group for tea, chat and friendship. As a result of this regular contact, 80 per cent of older guests feel less lonely.
Now that the health and wellbeing board has identified areas where people are lonely, I would encourage them, as part of their strategies, to work with organisations such as Contact the Elderly and refer these individuals on.
North London development officer
Contact the Elderly
Spend prison £14m in this country
I HAVE just come back from Lancashire where, in the run-up to Armed Forces Day, they have been collecting for Help The Heroes.
In the same week, the government donates £14million to build a prison in Mogadishu to house Somali pirates. Should that money not have been spent in this country, where we are all being squeezed, and ransom money collected by the pirates used to pay for their prison?
MRS M EARL
It’s not the borough that is moving
I RECEIVED a letter from Brent Council saying ‘Brent is moving’.
Are we subsiding, or are we moving to the West Country? Why did it not it say ‘Brent Town Hall is moving’?