Wrongly franked letters that cost us

I HAVE noticed over a period of several months that 1st class franked post received from Northwick Park and St Mark’s hospitals has been over-franked by 9p per item (53p instead of 44p).

I wrote to Mr Kishamer Sidhu, director of finance for his personal attention on October 7, 2012, pointing this out and asking for a reply within 10 days.

Needless to say, I did not receive a reply until October 24, once again franked at 53p (not the correct amount of 44p), from a Janet Webber which did not address the constructive point I was making and, indeed, simply implied that she was only given my letter on October 22 (where was it for nearly 2 weeks?).

I know that 9 pence per letter is only a small amount but how many letters per day go out franked excessively? Obviously there are some letters that require more postage.

Surely the post room at NWL Hospitals Trust has a supervisor or manager with sufficient nous to keep an eye on what that department is doing.

As this amounts to a waste of public money I am enclosing copies of various items as listed to my MP, the Harrow Observer and my local councillor.




Harrow Council needs to get a grip

IF LAST week’s Overview and Scrutiny meeting does not prove to be a wake up call for those who govern us locally, I don’t know what will.

Two items, completely unrelated, dominated the agenda: Vaughan School’s expansion plans and the report regarding youth offending work across Harrow.

There was a common theme running through both issues that can be summed up in three words, lack of communication.

The residents who live near to Vaughan School have concerns about the proposals to expand the school’s size by building on the playing field that backs on to their homes.

Who, in a similar position, would not express the range of emotions generated by fears caused by a dramatic upsurge in the number of extra people who will be coming and going from the school, the increased traffic, and the deterioration in their quality of life?

But the residents who put questions to the meeting were given answers that left them none the wiser. Significantly, the biggest complaint was levelled at council officers’ inability to respond to specific queries and to answer letters, which in some cases go back several months. At best the officials present were vague, or they missed the residents’ points completely.

The report into youth offending, which exposed the council to failings across all areas of this work, was a real eye opener. But this time the indignation came from the councillors who serve on the Overview and Scrutiny committee.

It very quickly came to light that such a damning report had caught our representatives by surprise. Both Labour and Conservative councillors expressed their dismay at ‘being kept in the dark’ and questioned officers about their inability to inform them of a matter so serious.

One member, in particular, said that this was the worst case he had experienced in more than 10 years of service as a councillor.

Harrow Council needs to get a grip sooner rather than later. Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, who I congratulate on his election as leader of the council, takes up the reins at next week’s council meeting.

In my view he needs to address the issue of communication and the access to information from within the civic centre as a priority.

It is not acceptable that the views and concerns of residents can be treated with such indifference and insignificance. That, on occasions, councillors can find themselves in the same boat should be a worry to us all.



Headstone North Ward

Poverty wages still being paid

EMPLOYERS have had over a decade to sign up to the London Living Wage campaign, yet the vast majority still pay poverty wages, including most local councils.

Only 10 out of 33 councils in London have taken real steps to ensure all its workers, including outsourced cleaners, are paid a living wage: Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Hounslow, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

The Mayor of London promised to push them all to follow City Hall’s example in 2008. But he has done very little to persuade them, the NHS or central government, to adopt the living wage. He has also failed to persuade shops, hotels and bars, where up to four out of every five people is paid a poverty wage.

The London Living Wage is about £2 an hour more than the national minimum wage, allowing for the higher cost of living in the capital.


Green Party Member of the London Assembly

Plant will create tonnes of ash

RESIDENTS across Harrow and Brent should be horrified that a ‘Willesden Waste Incinerator’ is proposed, on the borders of Ealing (‘Health fears over new incinerator’, Harrow Observer, October 25).

There’s been no discussion about the plans because few people were consulted and it was spun as an ‘Advanced Conversion Technology Facility’ and ‘Energy Recovery Centre’.

The same tax-haven-based company wants to build another incinerator on the Edgware Road at Dollis Hill, where a waste plant was approved in 2009 by Barnet Council.

Even old-fashioned ‘mass-burn’ waste incinerators like in Edmonton generate ‘recovered’ electricity, and THAT was built by the Greater London Council in the 1960s. Edmonton is already rebranded as an ‘energy centre’, and also called an ‘Eco-Park’! At least access is directly from the main road network, not via suburban streets.

We have to dispose of municipal and commercial waste, but burning the stuff removes the long-term incentive to reduce waste and to recycle. We should demand that consumer goods can be fully taken apart, to recycle at the end of their life. Instead, we just dump or burn them, and put off the problem for another 30 years.

The Willesden Incinerator will produce thousands of tonnes of ash per year, from ‘black-bag’ domestic waste, and from commercial waste.

This will draw in extra dust-carts and waste lorries along our local roads, no doubt including unpredictable, even unregulated, waste material.

Remember, the waste industry does not always have high standards!


Chelsea Close


Footpaths that cross private land

“NAME and address supplied” deserves a reply from Harrow Council to his or her correspondence about a footpath in South Harrow (Letters, October 25).

First, some clarification. Ownership of land can usually be checked at the Land Registry. Many public footpaths cross private land. They are supposed to be recorded (and protected) by Harrow Council, perhaps not very enthusiastically?

Examples. A public footpath on Harrow Hill was blocked by Harrow School – a criminal offence. No prosecution has resulted.

Again, on the Aerodrome Estate many alleyways used by the people for over 20 years and are registable as public footpaths. They belong to adjacent householders who do not want to use them. However, they have signed covenants to keep them unobstructed.

Harrow Council has put up gates to block them – a criminal offence. No enthusiasm there either.


Turner Road