Disgrace of park trustee choices

THE way Brent Labour councillors abuse their power in Brent is an absolute disgrace.

Five of the same Labour councillors who voted to close six local libraries in Brent, including Barham Park, despite mass opposition, are then appointed as trustees of the Barham Park Charity, which owns the Barham Library building and the park.

All the five trustees of the Barham Park Charity are Labour councillors, with no representatives with alternative views allowed.

Having decided to close Barham Park Library, and the five others, these Labour councillors are not required to disclose any interest, bias or pre-determination, and simply vote to exclude Friends of Barham Library members and other local community groups from having access to the Barham Park buildings.

Our local councillor, Paul Lorber – who knows more about the history of the Titus Barham bequest of his home and gardens for the benefit of Wembley residents and who is actually on the side of local people – is then told that he cannot speak at meetings of the Barham charity trustees.

If Liberal Democrat councillor Mr Lorber, who has campaigned to save Barham Library for more than two years, is prevented from speaking and representing local people, how can it be right that the five Labour councillors, who voted to close our libraries and are clearly doing everything possible to prevent local volunteers from taking over, are allowed to speak and vote?


Compton Avenue


Lack of loyalty in fire brigade cuts

IT IS very concerning that Harrow Councillor Susan Hall, in association with other members like the Londonwide Assembly Member Gareth Bacon on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, is behind the London Mayor’s plans to close fire stations.

Not only this, but the plan also includes the removal of 18 fire appliances and the loss of 520 firefighters across the capital.

We support the concerns that these cuts will inevitably endanger families and communities across London, including Harrow, and therefore are the real risk for safety and security of people in Harrow.

We demand a meaningful consultation in working out the fire and emergency planning arrangements for Harrow, as well as the level of resources needed to reassure that the borough is not exposed to any dangers because of the downgrading of fire cover.

We expect that Councillor Hall would be loyal to Harrow people rather than the Mayor of London.



Harrow Council for Justice

School move will cause difficulties

I AM a parent who has a child in year seven at Avanti House School in Harrow. We took the risk of putting our child in the school, since the location was reachable and the ethos of the school was good.

We travel from Wembley, so it was not a problem to reach the school using the Bakerloo line to get there. Even then it took an hour for my child to get to school for 8am.

Now Avanti House is moving to the borough of Barnet, and we will not have a direct link for transport to the school. It will even take longer for my child to get to school.

The 8 o’clock start means my child will probably have to leave home at 6.30am to get to school in time.

By the time they get back from school it will be late and they will still have a lot of homework, so they cannot even go to bed early.

I think what has happened here is inexcusable.

They should have thought about the disruption it would cause the residents before they ventured out with this project.

It is quite noticeable that the space would be too small to accommodate 1,680 student on the present site, it being in an industrial area with no parking facilities and only one road leading to the site.

Even if it was expanded, there would not be much space. It seems like not much thought has gone into the choice of location.

The idea of a temporary location in Barnet and then maybe a permanent location in 2015 – who knows – is not very appealing, since it will cause disruption to the child’s education, and we will have the issue of transport to and from school again.

I don’t know what to do since, getting to the new location will prove to be challenging in the first place.

Another problem is that making an application to other local schools will prove to be difficult, since all the schools are oversubscribed and have long waiting lists.

What we do is a big question.


Experts’ alert over NHS privatisation

THE Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Britain’s leading representative of the medical profession, recently issued a stark warning about the Tory-led government’s plans for increasing privatisation in the NHS.

With a plethora of new changes to the health service being implemented from April, I am concerned that profit rather than patient care is guiding these reforms.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has made clear its grave concerns that the government is planning to privatise large sections of the NHS by stealth – in breach of previous promises to doctors to limit the role of the private sector.

The Tory plan includes putting GP surgeries out to tender, ie up for auction. GPs who have traditionally run their own small surgeries will be forced to run against international corporations whose profits will benefit shareholders rather than be reinvested in the NHS. It will not, of course, save money, because any so-called savings will go to shareholders.

The academy suggests that these regulations are ‘at odds’ with reassurances given last year to the colleges but, most worryingly, it has warned that ‘unnecessary competition would destabilise complex, interconnected local health economies, in particular hospitals, potentially having adverse effects on patient services’.

The Royal College of GPs has also warned that the changes could have a negative impact on patient care.

Market-led ‘profit before people’ privatisation will break-up and fragment our health service. In addition to the already increased waiting times, this privatisation will further exacerbate the suffering for residents of Harrow who are waiting for treatment.

Patients, relatives, carers and the wider public in Harrow above all want a good quality local health service which puts care and safety first and is free at the point of delivery.

I believe the government should listen to the medical professionals who understand this area and provide care for us, and think again. It should be opening up access to the NHS for patients, not markets.

Will the government listen to people and health professionals?



Harrow Council

Bin excuses are not acceptable

I JUST had to voice my disgust at the council’s refusal to replace the 360-litre wheelie bin of the Baker family (Harrow Observer, March 14) after it was crushed by a dustcart.

I have just read your article and find none of their excuses acceptable.

The fact the council says ‘360-litre bins are no longer available for residential addresses...’, leads me to believe they are available for ‘business’ addresses and hence are available.

Council employees destroyed the family’s bin so the council should replace what was destroyed, accident or otherwise.

Also, the council tries to justify its reasons with the fact we now have three bins which equate to more space than original 360 litre bins.

But this just makes it sound stupid, as each of these bins is for different waste.

The bin that needs replacing is for non-recyclable waste and, with a large household, it makes sense, as the family needs a larger bin.

I do hope the council wakes up and replaces like-for-like with their bin.


Prompt service from council

I WOULD like to say thank you to the gentleman in the refuse department of Harrow Council for his prompt action in resolving my problem.

On Monday, March 11, I rang to say that one of my wheelie bins had lost a plug from the handle and could I get a replacement. He said he would send me two, which arrived the next day.

So, thank you to the refuse department for such prompt action.



Social care is being enhanced

I AM writing in response to a letter from Isobel Ritchie featured in last week’s Harrow Observer regarding Harrow Council’s day centres (Vulnerable may now lose homes, March 14).

Supporting and protecting people who are most in need is at the heart of everything that we do. We believe that by improving the way services work, and making them more efficient, we can enhance the outcomes that they are able to achieve and make them more financially sustainable.

We are in a very tough financial climate and the council is facing 30 per cent funding cuts.

As a result of this, and owing to our wish to protect front-line services, we have reviewed a number of services in the past two years to improve efficiency.

Each of these has been subject to formal consultation and deliberation by the council’s cabinet in a public meeting.

This included the decision to financially assess people for eligibility for transport in 2011 and the changes to learning disability services which were approved by the cabinet on March 14.

Throughout these changes, the council has been open and transparent and has communicated its intentions to the community.

Since we started planning for these day services, social care has been dramatically transformed through the personalisation agenda. This has given people more choice about their services, meaning that people are able to choose services other than those provided by the council.

The day services review that is currently being consulted upon will outline the council’s future approach.

The council designed the questionnaire with support from experts in the voluntary sector to make the questions meaningful to vulnerable adults. This was also considered by our quality assurance team, including service user representatives.

I understand that changes to services for the most vulnerable can be very unsettling for service users, and their family and carers. I take changes to these services very seriously and will continue to do all that I can to improve services while making them more efficient, and also to support people through them.


Portfolio holder for adult social care, health and wellbeing

Harrow Council