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Brent and Harrow seat remains Labour!

HirDespite Labour being badly punished nationally because of the Labour revolt against its perceived right-wing leadership, Brent and Harrow GLA seat is held by Labour.
As expected, Brent councillor and a council cabinet portfolio holder Krupesh Hirani (photo) has won the race mainly because of the nature of the seat and that Tory opponent karate champion Molly Irene Samuel-Leport seemingly lost the will to win months ago:  Krupesh Hirani 77782 and Molly Irene Samuel—Leport (Con) 56560 votes.
Historically personal votes have significantly influenced election outcomes in the Harrow East constituency and Brent and Harrow GLA seat.
Navin Shah defeated the then siting B&H GLA member Bob Blackman in 2008 despite the national trend against Labour because of Blair warmongering and then he came close to defeat the sitting Harrow East MP Blackman in the 2017 general election despite being given only few weeks to canvass the constituency with the help of his friends and family.
Delighted Cllr Hirani is a university graduate in politics and has good experience in the political sector where he held a number of posts.
During the Operation Black Vote Shadowing Scheme Mr Hirani was mentored by David Lammy MP. He seems to have good grip on a variety of socio-political matters, relevant to a wider society.
Though Cllr Hirani is seen more at the temple activities but he says he believes in representing all. He informs that he has spent his working life with organisations that support disabled people.
Cllr Hirani is proud of the local area and said: “I have been educated through the Brent state school system and am passionate about the area”.

London assembly needs overhaul, says a retiring member

“The imbalance between the Mayor’s powers and that of Assembly Members is stark. Assembly Members require power and recognition they sadly lack in the current governance arrangements. And it is my firm belief, that a fundamental overhaul is needed to address that imbalance” states Navin Shah (Lab), retiring Brent and Harrow London assembly member.
Mr Shah is but retiring Chair of the London Assembly over the past year. During the last 13 years he has served as the Chair of the Regeneration, Transport and Audit Committees and also served on Planning, Health & Public Services and Oversight Committees.
Mr Shah strongly believes in the London assembly reform and said, “I am in complete support of the GLA as a strategic body for London. However, 21 years on from the establishment of the GLA and the London Assembly, it is high time for a comprehensive and independent assessment to determine how the role of the London Assembly and Assembly Members can be strengthened”.
Mr Shah’s successor for Brent and Harrow Cllr Hirani and London mayor candidate Sadiq Khan, are set to win as the Tory candidates in the race have lost the sight of the winning post. Labour win despite low Labour voter turnout because of the poor and divisive Labour leadership, would reflect badly on Tories!

Harrow council could do more in responding to Covid-19

Good to see periodic text and video messages from the council leader and the director of public health about the infection, vaccination etc.
Whilst the information they provide is useful, responding to Covid-19 is more than this and includes services developed new procedures and ways, and working with others where needed, to provide more appropriate services and care, most importantly effectively keeping in touch with the residents.
Taking the communications in adult social care as an example, some councils with better leadership and management have worked with adult social care providers to embrace new ways for people who use services to stay in touch with family and friends while personal contact isn’t possible.
For example (as outlined by CQC), care homes send weekly newsletters to family members, as well as using Skype calls for residents to keep in touch with families. They set up relatives/friends WhatsApp groups to keep them informed to reduce their anxiety about their loved ones. They use this for video calls if they want.
Generally, good councils effectively inform which services are operating remotely throughout the pandemic and how to readily access these. User-friendly websites and easy read information about Covid-19 in different languages, help further.
Children services introduce texting service to support young people (10-19) and parents of children aged 0-5.
Well-being boards are effectively used to influence the CCGs for improved primary medical services design and delivery, including: encourage to set up a community team that could identify patients who could self-refer for help with activities like shopping, practice nurses to run a home visiting service and creating lead roles for important clinical and non-clinical areas.
Encourage the formation of GP Care Groups to provide patients with COVID-19 home monitoring kits including a pulse oximeter, a thermometer and blood pressure monitor where appropriate, and better links with care homes through the groups.
And to see that school nurses support virtual safeguarding conferences to make sure the child was represented. They also conduct health and sexual health assessments by video link.
Not sure whether the Harrow council has adopted/helped to set up these  good practices (above) as done by other councils who also face similar Covid-19 challenges but have avoided ‘crisis management’ type working!
Given the bad experiences of residents to get prompt/helpful responses to their telephone calls and emails to the council and given the low quality of its website, Harrow council could benefit by accepting that Covid-19 has been the catalyst for digital transformation at pace and search for digital solutions to support residents by adopting a multi-channel approach including Facebook Live and live internet chats as well as regular virtual meetings and brainstormings by the council services leads.

Racism has no political boundaries!

As the leading academics cited in the government’s controversial and seemingly pre-determined race report say they were not properly consulted, tweeter is busy in highlighting a Labour’s ‘racist’ leaflet.
A government-commissioned review into racism has concluded the United Kingdom is not an institutionally racist country, prompting a backlash from critics who described the findings as an “utter whitewash”, and that  Commission chairman Tony Sewell, once a Brent teacher, had been appointed only because he could be relied upon to deny there was a problem with racism in Britain. Sewell in 2010 stated “much of the supposed evidence of institutional racism is flimsy”.
Displeased with the report, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas said “This report was a huge missed opportunity to begin to tackle the structural racism that exists in our country and which requires a multifaceted government response to begin to sort. Better leadership on this is long overdue”.
In the lead up to the 2021 local elections, Labour MP  Charlotte Nichols posted on Twitter about campaigning in the local area alongside a photo of Labour leaflets with a strong anti traveller community message printed on them.
The Shadow Equalities Minister later said she wasn’t aware of the meaning of “incursion” used in the leaflet or its negative connotation.
Responding to Nichols, a tweet said “If this true, and you don’t understand something so basic, then you shouldn’t be Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.  If you had any integrity you’d resign”.
The problem isn’t the word “incursion.” The problem is a Labour leaflet promoting racism and, if you don’t see that, you should probably join the Tories, said the tweet.
Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick, Labour parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, points out that in legal dictionary ‘incursion’ is defined as a running into; hence, an entering into a territory with hostile intention; a temporary invasion, a predatory or harassing inroad; a raid.
“Attacking GRT (Gypsy Roma Traveller) is common. I have had to challenge Tories in Harrow in the council chamber for their offensive language. But I have also seen and heard it from Labour members. Nothing is done to challenge those responsible” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

Byron Hall, potential Covid-19 vaccination hub, could do better!

A recent meeting of the Harrow Council health and wellbeing board heard that the borough’s vaccination programme will be predominantly based at Byron Hall in Harrow when the vaccination at Hives and Tithe Farm would cease on April 30.
Therefore, it is worrying to hear that those who were called for their second dose of the vaccination today found the Byron Hall operations are closed till at least next Sunday – no prior notice of the closure seems to have been given to the attendees.
Lisa Henschen, assistant managing director for primary and community care at NHS Harrow, told the meeting that the Byron Hall will be utilised as a “hybrid” vaccination site, delivering all second doses save for some ‘roving teams’ for housebound residents from May 1.
It will also be responsible for 80 per cent of first doses from this date, complemented by the roving teams (one per cent), GP-led satellite clinics (nine per cent) and pharmacy sites (ten per cent).
The meeting also heard that there will be an effort to improve the vaccination statistics among social care workers and those with learning disabilities in Harrow, where 54.6 per cent and 65.6 per cent of these groups have received their first dose, respectively.
The wellbeing board, seemingly good in listening than active intervention, is well represented by the Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group, Councillors and Healthwatch Harrow,  but its firmness in demanding better health care and wellbeing is somewhat over-shadowed by the considerations of the budgetary constraints of the  Clinical Commissioning Group.

Tests urged after South African Covid strain found

20210315_150606Harrow residents and workers are being urged to do all they can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 following few cases of the South African variant.
Working with Public Health England, the council will shortly offer tests to anyone over the age of 16 living or working in some selected streets.
Those in Belmont, Harrow Weald, Hatch End, Headstone North, Marlborough and Wealdstone wards will be asked either to complete a home test or book a test at Harrow Arts Centre.
Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for 10 days. People on low incomes unable to work because they’re self-isolating may be able to claim a £500 payment.
Carole Furlong, Harrow’s Director of Public Health, said, “I’d urge everyone invited to take part in surge testing to do so.
“By testing you’ll be helping to limit the spread of Covid and make the lifting of further lockdown restrictions more likely. “
“This variant is still quite new – while there’s no evidence that it’s more serious than others, or that vaccines are less effective against it, our understanding of it is still quite limited” she said.

Blackman veils government’s destructive financial decisions

In his newsletters, Harrow East MP Bob Blackman keeps praising government’s economic strategy, including its recent budget, and handouts to NHS and other authorities.
“Behind the Budget’s slick government and media PR, rhetorical moves away from austerity and increases in overall tax and spend, there lies a simple truth: the Tories will hand out billions to their friends but won’t invest in our public services or protect the living standards of working people” reports the powerful socialist Peace and Justice Project.
For example, the two figures £37 billion and £3.50 where the former is the cost of the privatised Serco test and trace (generally reported as a faulty test and trace system), the latter the weekly pay rise for NHS nurses, both revealed by the government last week.
And the Metro has reported today that the Department of Health did £90,000,000 PPE deal with a firm listed in a Chinese hotel room.
In reporting benefits for the few and hardship for the many, the PJP points out that before being asked to pay a penny more, big business will have £12 billion of tax relief giveaways lavished on them for the next year, which will allow companies like Amazon to pay even less tax than the pittance they already pay. While:
Public sector workers received a real term pay cut, again. NHS workers were awarded a pitiful 1%, and 1.3 million majority female low paid workers will be brought into income tax as part of a stealth tax rise on the many, alongside a 5% rise in council tax.
The derisory extension to Universal Credit is only temporary and there was no extension to legacy benefits.
Disabled people, who have made up 60% of the deaths from Covid, have been entirely ignored. The social care system, which supports many disabled people and vulnerable older people, received no additional support.
Statutory Sick Pay remains so low that many can’t afford to self-isolate if medically required.
And those facing rent arrears or debts due to the pandemic got no support, while the stamp duty cut is a handout to landlords that inflates house prices for us all.
Governments shouldn’t be judged on how much they tax and spend in total but who it taxes and who it spends on, asserts the PJP.

Opposition councillor’s wasteful question generously answered

RALooks that some political attention seekers in Harrow are using Covid-19 to stir up socio-religious emotions for point scoring.
At the councillor questions time last Harrow council cabinet meeting, councillor Almond (photo) asked: “What evidence do you have that closing places of worship has helped to stop the spread of Covid?”
Pity Almond did not know that there are no direct measures to gauge the impact of closing places of worship on stopping the Covid-19 spread, except that public gatherings during the COVID-19 run serious risk of spreading the infection.
Leader of the council, councillor Graham Henson, who answered the question was gentle enough not to reject Cllr Almond’s wasteful question.
In pointing out that the council makes well informed statements regarding the Covid-19 situations in Harrow, Cllr Henson said “I do know that over Christmas, as I mentioned earlier, the rates were escalating exponentially. And it’s that argument we used with the Minister for Education as why schools should remain closed rather than opening up”.
“And this is where the faith leaders agreed that reducing down the level of contact amongst the population is the only way that reduces the spread of the virus. So all of this is evidence based. It’s all available online on the government websites.  All of it is factual information that shows what happens”.
“There’s no single thing that can slow this virus, and it’s a multitude of things and one of those was reducing contact between people which is the most effective” he added.
Councillor questions time at the cabinet meetings is a valuable democratic opportunity to hold the administration to account but this limited time must be used sensibly.

Prime minister and home secretary visit Harrow vaccination centres as GLA elections approaching

20210112_150945Apparently in a show of support, the Prime Minister Johnson visited Hive, Barnet FC’s home stadium in Harrow, which is turned into a coronavirus vaccination centre.
Harrow East MP Blackman boosted on his website that he joined prime minister on his visit to the vaccination centre on 25 January.
A few weeks later, home secretary Patel visited Byron Hall vaccination centre, seemingly promoting the vaccine in her Gujarati community who regulary uses Byron Hall at the Harrow Leisure Centre for their religious and cultural activities.
Should these visits be in the interest of Covid-19 vaccination, the Conservative visiting should have been the vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi, also from  a diversity background.
But then Harrow is well known for the pre-election visits by a Conservative prime minister and home secretary.
In a separate situation regarding the Conservative GLA elections campaign,  Brent and Harrow GLA member and chair of the London Assembly Navin Shah told Conservative assembly member Tony Devenish at a very recent meeting that he should feel “ashamed” for remarks he made regarding the upcoming election after a question about London’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
[Devenish outburst included: ‘The only thing he (mayor) does well is ask the taxpayer, not the Government, for more money. On May 6, it is time for change. Vote Shaun Bailey.’]
The virtual meeting allowed London assembly members to put their questions to London Mayor Sadiq Khan regarding transport, policing, air quality, housing etc.

Dismay on the way Labour party has dealt with ‘anti-black racism’

While the Labour leader Keir Starmer is busy in playing nationalism, nine black MPs in an open letter have expressed their dismay on the way the party has dealt with anti-black racism within the party.
The reference is to Forde Inquiry, led by Martin Forde QC, that was tasked with looking into an internal report, leaked online last year, on Labour’s handling of racism complaints. Findings of the inquiry have now been delayed indefinitely.
The Forde Inquiry was originally set to conclude in mid-July, but this timescale was described by Forde as “impractical”. It then aimed to deliver the report “by the end of 2020”, which was later changed to “early in 2021”.
The delay in publishing the inquiry report is intriguing given that local elections are expected to be held on 6 May 2021 in English local councils and for thirteen directly elected mayors in England as well as elections in the parliaments and assemblies of Scotland, Wales and London, the last in conjunction with the London mayoral election.
In term of racism, its complaints and their implications, Harrow is likely to reflect the national picture.
‘Following reports the Forde Inquiry has been delayed “indefinitely” the Labour Party has a responsibility to ensure its findings are published as soon as practicable and must consider the perspectives of black and ethnic minority members in its decision’ Kate Osamor MP for Edmonton tweeted.
Forde inquiry2

Harrow planning committee chairmanship in turmoil

20210128_153636Highly concerning that Harrow council planning committee, in many ways the public face of decision making, has leadership instability and has no substantial chairman in post at present.
Councillor Keith Ferry, a longstanding member of the planning committee who chaired the committee for years, resigned from his role last year due to a conflict of interest as he is to represent the council on a board associated with the Harrow Strategic Development Partnership.
Most prime building developments, especially the skyscraper around the Harrow Town Centre, have taken place under Cllr Ferry chairmanship.
Then councillor Shah was appointed chairman by the council in December, without realising the possibility of the conflict of interest. His register of interests, most recently signed off in November 2020, disclosed that he works for Curtin and Co, a “specialist consultancy in planning politics and community development”.
Subsequently, and after residents raised concerns about his potential conflict of interest, Cllr Shah recognised that his professional career makes undertaking the chairmanship of the planning committee problematic and resigned as both chairman and member of the planning committee.
Given such a conspicuous instability in the planning committee leadership, the role of opposition planning lead Cllr Marilyn Ashton becomes quite significant. Cllr Ashton has expertise, experience and track record of scrutinising planning recommendations as well as insisting upon well informed planning decisions.
In the public interest, it is expected that Cllr Ashton along with her capable colleague Cllr Baxter on the planning committee would play more pronounced role in protecting the characteristic of the borough, more than observing conventional political group alignment.

‘Destruction of Metropolitan/Chiltern Line trackside vegetation’, environmental activists concerned

EsmI03xW4AEHLbYActivists campaigning for environmental and social justice in Brent and beyond are concerned that excessive removal of the trackside trees has now left residents without protection from the pollution, light and noise from frequent trains passing, both on the Met line and the Chiltern Railway.
“Residents living next to the Metropolitan and Chiltern lines straddling the boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon, have witnessed a series of distressing environmental actions carried out by TFL this new year” informs Emma Wallace, Green Party GLA candidate for the Brent and Harrow.
Over the last two weeks, TFL contractors have been arriving daily with chainsaws, strimmer’s and tree chippers and removing huge stretches of trees and vegetation running along the Metropolitan line between Pinner towards Northwood Hills.
“This act of environmental vandalism has meant a biodiverse, green corridor has now been severely reduced, impacting nearby residents’ health and mental well-being, as well as removing habitat for local wildlife” alerts Ms  Wallace.
The activists point out that the local community were not informed by TFL that these works were going to be carried out, consequently have not had an opportunity to raise concerns or ask for a consultation of the works.
They now call on the London Mayor and TFL to immediately stop the excessive removal of habitat from trackside embankments and ensure that biodiversity surveys are carried out before work begins, that local residents are informed and given time to feedback concerns, and that the contractors are trained on effective vegetation management.

Take-up of self-isolation by Covid-19 positives is very low, resulting rapid spread

Harrow Covid-19 spread has been alarming: 491 deaths and 17,046 total cases (97,329 deaths and 3,617,459 cases nationally).
While the Harrow council is doing what it can to educate about self-isolation by those tested corona positive to avoid spread of the infection, it can’t provide the level of support for the working people in isolation that they need.
Harrow’s reality has to reflect in the national situation where less than 20% of people in England fully self-isolate and stay home when asked to do so, according to documents released from the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies, as reported by the Guardian.
It is not that working people don’t care and decline self-isolation but because of inadequate government support. There is a desperate need for a furlough scheme that is worthy of the name as well as not cutting Universal Credit, but instead increasing Universal Credit, and increasing statutory sick pay.
What is also lacking is a proper mechanism of support, and proper funding of people in corona isolation.
Speaker after speaker at the Zero Covid Coalition launch Zoom meeting on 24 January articulated that the government’s handling of the pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous. There has been a steadfast refusal to learn from the mistakes of the past or from the successes of other countries.
Jeremy Corbyn at the Zero Covid meeting said: “We’ve seen the best and the worst in our society (in dealing with Covid-19). The worst has been the greed. The worst has been a deception and dishonesty, and the best has been the professionalism in the NHS and in the care in local government”.
“It’s the negligence of government, it’s the delay on decisions, it’s the incompetence, it’s the inefficiency that has cost 1000s and 1000s of lives that need not have died because of corona and  which could have been supported and saved” he said.

Increased fines for environmental crimes – some by 100%

Forthcoming Harrow council cabinet meeting (21 January) is likely to agree recommended levels of fines for many environmental crimes, including 100% increase in some that have no levels of the fines currently .
The purpose of the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) is to reduce environmental crime within the Borough and should be part of a wider enforcement strategy, designed to address all aspects of environmental crime, says the council.
The proposed levels of charges make good sense considering the increased environmental anti-social behaviour in the borough like fly-tipping, the proposed fine for which is to increase from £200 to £400. Similarly, graffiti and fly-posting fines are to increase from £80 to £150.
Recently increased random fly-tipping includes furniture, electrical goods and even children toys left on the pavement outside the house, perhaps because of the lack of understanding that this constitutes fly tipping, an anti-social behaviour which is a criminal offence – good case for effectively educating the potential offenders.
Harrow council street teams and intelligence based actions swiftly clear up fly tips but residents are rightly concerned about fly-tipping and they want more done to combat the problem.
For example, to offer a reward  for information which leads to a successful prosecution in cases of fly tipping as practised by Surrey Heath Borough Council (offering £5000 reward).
The officer report before the cabinet sets out 21 new areas of environmental crimes which are to carry £100 fine each. These include littering from vehicles, depositing builder’s skip on highway without permission, failure to secure lighting or other marking of builder’s skip, failure to secure marking of builder’s skip with name and address  and failure to secure removal of builder’s skip.
The council claims that ‘the scheme is there to seek compliance and to improve the highways and environment, not as a money maker’ though ‘some income will be generated initially from the implementation of the regime’.

Covid-19 vaccination well organised in Harrow – positive experience

20210112_150945Harrow has started its Covid-19 vaccination programme, mainly using Pfizer-BioNTech which needs 2 shots, 21 days apart. The shot is given in the muscle of the upper arm.
The vaccination reduces the chances of suffering from Covid-19 but it takes a few weeks for the body to build up protection from the vaccine. So it is important to follow up the guidance to avoid catching/ spreading the infection.
Following is a typical feedback on having the vaccination.
‘Being a Harrow resident from a vaccination priority group, GP arranged my vaccination at the Hive Stadium, Camrose Ave, Edgware.
The vaccination has been very well organised. The vaccination centre is helpfully sign-posted, outside/inside the Hive. Equally helpful are the volunteers who are at the car park (free car parking token given) and inside the vaccination centre, helpfully guiding through the process of registration, to the vaccination stations and in seeking the follow up appointment for the second shot.
The vaccination desks and the seating are well arranged –  provide comfy and safe environment. The nurse doing the vaccination is cheerful, thoroughly explained the vaccination process and the follow up procedures. The injection itself took only few seconds and was painless. Noticed at least one doctor in attendance.
After the injection and booking next appointment, there is a period of ten minutes to sit and relax before leaving the vaccination centre (two wall clocks have been placed to obverse ten minutes). The experience of vaccination has been smooth and positive.’
In term of improvement, perhaps a feedback form at the centre would be a helpful addition, particularly to occupy the vaccination takers while they stay for ten minutes after the vaccination.
There are few other vaccination centres in Harrow, including Harrow Leisure Centre’s Byron Hall, in Christchurch Avenue, Wealdstone.
In Harrow 14,621 total cases to 12 January and 462 coronavirus-related deaths registered to 1 January.

Winter fuel payment for all on low income, insists Harrow socialist

A survey found that 72% household, the equivalent of 20 million, across the UK fear an increase in their energy usage during the lockdown and that they face an average increase of over £32 per month in energy bills.
Demand is growing that the government must do more to help people cope with rising fuel bills this winter as they stay in more and work from home during the lockdown.
Pam“Staying home in January and February as temperatures drop to below zero means even higher fuel bills. The Government needs to expand the winter fuel payment scheme to all those on a low income to ensure that families do not have to make the difficult choice between eating and heating” asks Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick (photo), a leading founder of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors and Harrow East parliamentary candidate in 2019.
Even before the outbreak of Covid-19 hundreds of thousands of people were already struggling with energy bills. What the coronavirus crisis does in addition to increasing energy usage for those at home, is to create an uncertainty and insecurity of income for workers. There is a real risk these higher prices will fall heaviest on those least able to pay.
“The Government mishandling of the COVID 19 crisis means that we find ourselves in no better a situation than at the start of the pandemic. Many people have lost their jobs or on reduced pay and the crisis has vividly exposed the problems ordinary working people face with the combination of insecure low paid work and an inadequate benefit system” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
The survey found that for those working from home, there is growing financial anxiety, as almost half (44%) worry that working from home will lead to unaffordable energy bills.
Would Harrow MPs and the council follow the lead, and ask the government to expand the winter fuel payment scheme to all those on a low income?
Wonder why the ‘selected’ Labour leader Starmer is not pressing government hard to meaningfully deal with the coronavirus and its adverse socio-economic impact on the quality of people lives but then he seems more keen on frequently saying ‘Labour supports the government’!

Harrow GPs in level 5 COVID-19 response!

In GP workload prioritisation, Harrow is in the BMA defined  level 5 (highest) emergency response where all non-essential work stopped to allow general practice to cope with very significant demands relating to COVID-19, acute deterioration in long term conditions and new symptoms indicating potentially serious disease.
The text message from local GP practices on 1st January confirmed about a reduced range of general practice services in Harrow.
Since then, following is a summary of the feedback from some Harrow GPs:
‘It is true, most of the non urgent and community services have been suspended, this is because hospital staff have been redeployed to cover essential /urgent and Covid-19 units as well as there are a significant number staff members being ill.
Non Covid hospital services are adversely affected, for example, orthopaedic units and orthopaedic theatres are closed for non urgent work like hip replacement.
Hospitals (secondary care) stopped accepting referral from us a while back, anyhow, not only because of the pandemic but as hospital won’t have responsibility if something happens to patients while waiting for treatment. Also they don’t have waiting list any more, except the ones before the pandemic.
We can only refer patient who may have cancer, or very urgent, like chest pain’.
No matter how the NHS England performance is looked at, government approach ‘save money than lives’ to health care becomes obvious, as confirmed that while long-term under resourced NHS just coped  before pandemic but is now crumbling under Covid-19 pressure – lack of staff, equipment (even Oxygen masks), medical aids etc – ‘Imagine the scenes where you have to ration oxygen, have no staff and those that are there are exhausted’, a doctor on social media has summarised.
Harrow has total 11,819 cases to 4 Jan.

Disruptive Harrow opposition councillor continues her behaviour at City Hall

Tory appointed London assembly member Susan Hall, a Harrow councillor enjoying full council allowances while participating little in the work of the council, uses her City Hall position to gain publicity.
Her individual  targeting, practised while leading Tory opposition in Harrow, continues; now attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who faced the worst Tory racist campaign in 2016 London mayor election, for taking interest in the wider welfare of Londoners.42D29E9F-3D5B-4B87-8575-E4E7031774F3
During a very recent interview with an online right-wing newspaper, Hall unduly criticised the London Mayor’s handling of the Met Police finances. She also questioned what the ‘personality colour test’ carried out by officers in 2018 achieved for the police officials that took part in the course.
[the personality colour test, widely used in commerce and industry,  asks a series of questions to rate likes and dislikes leading to well recognised personality grading, all to maximise professionalism]
The test was initially carried out as part of a five-day workshop on communication and engagement in view of popular view to early detect and address any heavy-handedness/discriminatory tendencies in the Met.
A spokesman for the London mayor dismissed Hall’s claim of inappropriate use of the police funding for ‘personality colour test’ and said: “This claim is absolute nonsense”.
“A comprehensive training package covering a whole range of areas is being delivered to more than 10,000 officers”.
But of course such a training programme has not seen favourably by the elements that oppose ‘black lives matter’ movement and do not like measures for better policing.
Regarding the police funding management generally, the mayor has not only used the funds very wisely but also provided further City Hall funding to help protect police officer numbers over the next year, though still facing huge financial challenges because the government refuses to refund City Hall and the Met for costs and lost income as a result of the pandemic.
Hall also criticised that “As a Mayor, all he ever does is talks about things he cannot affect like Brexit.”
In responding to her toxicity, a spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq makes no apology whatsoever for standing up for London.
“Whether it is defending the capital from the impact of Brexit, holding the Government to account over its mishandling of COVID-19, or killing off the worst Government proposals to hit Londoners in the pocket in return for a TfL funding deal, the Mayor will always put the capital first.”

Harrow hit by COVID-19 contradictions

On the first day of 2021, a text message from GP surgeries informs about a reduced range of general practice services in Harrow: ‘all GPs have been asked to STOP any non-essential work – any routine referrals to the hospital cannot be done at present as hospitals are NOT processing any new referrals. Some essential blood test monitoring may continue’.
This is top level 5 emergency response where all non-essential work stopped to allow general practice to cope with very significant demand relating to COVID-19, acute deterioration in long term conditions and new symptoms indicating potentially serious disease.
But the same BMA COVID-19: toolkit for GPs and GP practices also says: Under the GMS contract, practices have a responsibility to provide services to your registered patients and it is for practices to decide how best to do so. COVID-19 does not in any way negate this requirement.
The level 5 emergency sits well with the Harrow COVID-19 situation – 10,588 total coronavirus cases (to 31 De) – mostly in 0-59 years and 438 coronavirus-related deaths registered to 18 December.
Despite such an alarming COVID-19 situation, Harrow is one of the ten London local authorities that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has asked to reopen primary schools next week. There has been a wider reaction to his irrational decision, including a letter to him signed by leaders of all of those boroughs.
In a separate move, a Harrow council letter to Harrow primary schools tells:  ‘we have taken decision to advise our schools to move to online learning for most pupils next week’! [UPDATE 8pm: now in a late u-turn education secretary has announced that primary  schools in all London local authorities will not reopen next week]
The government failures in containing and treating coronavirus already have serious implications, including for Harrow.
For example, massive publicity with significant shortcomings and implications: ‘if feeling unwell with just one of the symptoms of Covid, call 119 to get tested, if the test positive, follow the rules and self-isolate for 10 days’ – because ‘there is no medicine or cure for the virus’ without due emphasis that though there is no cure for the coronavirus as such, the damages to the organs caused by the infection can be medically managed. Such an ill information and omission could only be seen as a political decision to keep pressure off the NHS England which has been suffering from the lack of resources!
The prescribed ‘isolation’ with no medical treatment for ten days mostly results in developing shortness of breath or fall in oxygen saturation, damaging lungs and other vital organs. Since main casualties occur in late presenters to the hospital treatment, medical treatment in the first few days rather than after 10 days of the corona symptoms should have been prioritised, but then consideration seems to be ‘save money rather than lives’!

Risk of increased coronavirus spread as school reopening not delayed in Harrow – but Tory MPs silent

Harrow Labours are questioning why the lives of Harrow residents are less important, as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced children can go to schools in Harrow but not if they are in schools in Barnet, Brent or Hillingdon.
Harrow is now a Tier 4 where over 150 new cases of covid-19 diagnosed in Harrow every day compared to only 50 previously. Harrow council reported ‘as of 13/12/20, Harrow had the 10th highest rate in London and 39th highest nationally’. [1,990 cases in the latest week 20 Dec-26 Dec, +480 compared with the previous week, 10,266 total cases to 30 Dec]
Number of corona deaths remains a serious concern (438 as of 18 Dec).
“Why is Bob Blackman not standing up for residents in Harrow while schools in neighbouring boroughs are allowed to delay opening to protect lives – just like Eaton, Harrow residents are being out at risk – how shameful?” said Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick, Labour Harrow East parliamentary candidate in 2019.
“The Government want schools in 13 London boroughs to open next week and 22 delays. There is no explanation, no rational – this government is playing with our lives and has really outdone itself this time” she added.
Harrow East Tory MP Blackman remains silent about Harrow schools reopening despite it poses higher risk of coronavirus spread but of course he is busy in celebrating Brexit: “Great news to help the recovery process from Covid19 and rebuild our economy on the back of the Trade Deal” he tweeted after his Commons vote.
In a separate move, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has asked minister for School Standards Nick Gibb to explain and review why Harrow not on the list of the areas where primary schools face a delayed return yet all neighbouring boroughs are, even though Harrow shares same NHS Trust and the infection rates are similar.
UPDATE: soon after our article (8.30pm), now Bob Blackman (10.30pm) has asked Gibbs why Harrow excluded from list of boroughs where primary schools will be closed next week.

‘Destruction’ of a Green and wildlife corridor in Harrow

265A variety of campaigners have been calling on Harrow Council’s planning regime to reject the planning application to build residential units at 265 The Ridgeway, Harrow, a wider green corridor full of wildlife.
The campaigners argue that the development is not in keeping with the local area, will have a detrimental impact on the local neighbourhood, park and allotments.
Regarding the environment damage already taking place, Emma Wallace, Green Party GLA candidate for Brent and Harrow reported “On the morning of Saturday 19th December 2020, a team of volunteers arrived at the Pavilion site, 265 The Ridgeway with chainsaws and chopped down the trees and foliage in the green corridor running North of the site boundary.  The group of volunteers behind this were Harrow Gospel Hall Trust, otherwise known as the Brethren”.
West Harrow Cllr Adam Swersky (Lab) tweeted: ‘Worst thing I’ve seen in 6 years as a cllr – demolition of a whole tree line by volunteers (incl kids) with chainsaws acting for a religious group who have a major planning application on the site. Ignored me and Council officers – said they were just “doing a job”. Appalling.’
Whilst a decision by the Council planning committee has been delayed until early 2021, Harrow Council is not considered being supportive of local campaigners.  Indeed, when Harrow Council was asked for comment after the act of wildlife vandalism on Saturday, their response was that Brethren were in their legal right.
“I am calling on Harrow Council to do the right thing and reject this short-sighted and hugely detrimental development in West Harrow.  Harrow Council must do all it can to preserve green spaces in borough, in line with its Climate Change Strategy” Ms Wallace said.
“It is completely out-of-keeping with the rest of the low-level area and will have a negative impact on local wildlife, surrounding green spaces, local residents, as well as the roads and local infrastructure” she added.

Project for Peace and Justice – cooperative approach for peace and socialism, more than what Labour opposition is doing

In announcing the project for the New Year, previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP said “We need solidarity beyond our borders and across communities to solve our common problems together.”
The Peace and Justice Project will work with labour and social movements, providing platforms to those campaigning for change for the many, not the few.
The project to bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world, is widely welcomed, including by Harrow socialists.
“The peace and justice project is a very timely initiative. The world is in a parlous state and COVID19 has cast stark new light on the inequality and injustice surrounding us” said Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick, a leading founder of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors.
“Jeremy Corbyn is a politician who is genuinely altruistic and has been a powerful campaigner for peace and justice for decades. I very much welcome this exciting initiative” she added.
The project aims to challenge the skewed distribution of wealth and power at home and overseas, and the ways it manifests including tax avoidance, privatisation, low pay, restrictions on workers’ rights and trade unions, and how economies are structured.
Other aims of the project include: drawing attention to issues including the arms trade, nuclear proliferation, military expansion and intervention, peace-building and human rights. Campaign for urgent action on the climate emergency.  To support movements for democracy and people’s right to self-determination across the world including in Palestine and the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and Latin America.
Strong feelings like those expressed by the Labour MP Richard Burgon about the Labour inadequacies in the Commons, highlight the need for counter initiatives like the Project.
[After a Commons vote where Labour MPs whipped by the leadership to abstain on the vote, Richard Burgan said: “disappointed that our party didn’t use its parliamentary weight to try to force concessions on sick pay. Had Labour threatened to vote against the package without proper sick pay, it could have won both public support and important extra support for those who need to isolate. Bold opposition to the government’s failing coronavirus strategy is certainly in the national interest – and the demand for proper sick pay should be at the core of our opposition over the coming months”]
The high profile project’s aims and objectives which feel like a political party manifesto, are  particularly valued at a time when many suspect that legally flawed ‘Labour antisemitism’ report enables Keir Starmer’s recent purge against Corbyn and rest of Labour left.
The Project reminds of the Co-operative Party formation on the reformist agenda which since 1927 has an electoral agreement with Labour Party.

Rapid rise in corona cases in Harrow – a new walk-through Covid-19 testing centre now open

Car park and tennis courts at Harrow Weald Recreation Ground is now open as an additional  walk-through COVID-19 testing centre as cases continue to rise rapidly in Harrow (20,964 cases as of 10 December and 599 deaths).
In view of such an alarming situation, action has been taken to stop the trend, which has seen an almost 60% jump in the rate of infection in the week to 4th December 2020.
Harrow is now higher than the national average with urgent action needed to control the spread.
Strict safety control measures will be in place for those attending the test centre: face coverings must be worn and social distancing followed at all times.
There will also be a 24-hour security team at the site. The testing site is by appointment and to book a test people should go to or call NHS 119.
Other test centres have been at Brigade Close Car Park opposite South Harrow Police Station, and the Edgware testing centre at Watling Community Centre, Orange Hill Road, HA8 0TRGH
Cllr Graham Henson, Leader of Harrow Council, said: “Cases are continuing to rise in Harrow as well as the rest of London at an alarming rate – this new walk-through centre is a vitally important part of our efforts to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”  
“With Harrow now above the national average it has never been more urgent for us to strictly follow the rules and guidance in place – and take all sensible precautions to protect ourselves, our friends and our family and slow the spread of the Covid-19” he said.

Coronavirus vaccination in Harrow very soon

injectionFormal emails to Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group surgeries, currently recruiting staff and volunteers to deliver vaccination, indicate that the vaccination would start in a matter of days, latest in 2-3 weeks.
As on 27 November, Harrow has 14,739 corona infection cases and 520 deaths. The first group to get vaccination are 50 plus.
It looks that by the end of March 2021, all people/eligible people in Harrow will be vaccinated.
When two doses per head, two or minimum one week apart, are administered, immunity kicks in from 28 days.
Harrow is likely to use Pfizer vaccine (good choice) injected at three locations, Harrow leisure centre, another hall in Cannon Park and one in South Harrow.
This vaccine is to be kept in ultra-low-temperature freezers, which are commercially available and can extend shelf life for up to six months or in the refrigeration units that are commonly available in hospitals. The vaccine can be stored for five days at refrigerated 2-8°C conditions.
New York based Pfizer have not released any samples of written materials provided to patients, so it is unclear what, if any, instructions patients could be given regarding the use of medicines to treat side effects following vaccination.
Another vaccine, quickly developed and much cheaper, is the one by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which can be stored at room temperature. This is a genetically modified common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees and therefore favoured by Boris Johnson. Politics of coronavirus continues!

History of virginity tests that started under a Labour government

Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas must publicly apologise for administering “virginity tests” to Indian female immigrants hoping to enter the country in the 1970s on marriage visas

The BBC reports that women are being offered controversial “virginity tests” at British medical clinics.
The tests involve a vaginal examination to check if the hymen is intact – the intrusive tests are considered a violation of human rights by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations, which want to see them banned. They are not banned in Britain.
Harrow is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country with substantial Indian background population and the recent focus on the virginity tests has refreshed ugly memories of what happened in 1970s under Labour government.
An Indian woman who arrived at Heathrow on 24 January 1979 seeking entry as the fiancee of a man living in Southall was subjected to undergo a gynaecological examination ‘which may be vaginal if necessary’ on the instruction of an immigration officer, Runnymed Trust reports . Deputy Indian High Commissioner met an Under-secretary of State for the Foreign Office to register a formal protest.
A Harrow community leader Kanti Nagda MBE, now retired Harrow social worker who established the Sangat Community Centre in Harrow, remembers it well how local Indian community felt about the virginity tests under the watch of then home secretary Merlyn Rees who was educated and later taught at the Harrow Weald Grammar School, Harrow: “The community was shocked and devastated to find these most disgraceful virginity tests are carried out under a Labour home secretary – asking for any apology is in order” said Mr Nagda.
The home office then claimed that such tests helped them to identify women who attempted to enter the country illegally by establishing whether a woman is a bona fide fiancee.
VTThis sparked global concern and investigative reporting:
The Telegraph reported: the government is facing calls for an official apology after documents showed that Asian women were subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” when they tried to move to Britain in the late 1970s.
At least 80 women from India and Pakistan hoping to emigrate to Britain to marry were intimately examined by immigration staff to “check their marital status”, according to confidential Home Office file.
The New York Times reported: the British government concealed how often it administered “virginity tests” to female immigrants hoping to enter the country in the 1970s on marriage visas.
The documents, unearthed by Marinella Marmo and Evan Smith, legal researchers from Flinders University in Australia, showed that the tests had been administered more than 80 times at the British Embassies in New Delhi and Mumbai – the extent of the practice was not clear until now.

Caring Harrow East Labour ask local residential landlords to lower rent by 25% for one year

Harrow East Labour members meeting on 24 November acknowledged that the Labour Party is in the business of supporting and helping the young, low income families and those battling unemployment.
The meeting also noted many (although not all) landlords in Wealdstone, Edgware, Stanmore, Queensbury and Harrow Weald are well off and have made – and are still making during these tough times – very large profits, month in month out – and that many have multiple properties.
Since April this year at least 90,063 people in the UK have been threatened with homelessness – and more than half of these have already lost their accommodation.
Pam“COVID has hit Harrow very harshly and there are still lots of illegal evictions going on despite the supposed ban” Pamela Fitzpatrick, director Harrow Law Centre, previously observed.
The government came under increased pressure to reinstate a ban on evicting tenants during the England-wide coronavirus lockdown but while homeowners were offered mortgage payment holidays, the government has not reinstated the ban on tenant evictions, which expired in September.
To help ordinary working people in these times of emergency, the Labour meeting resolved to ‘call upon all local residential landlords, where it’s financially possible, who are charging the ‘market rate’, to lower their weekly and/or monthly rents by at least 25% for one year’.
“This will help tens of thousands of local residents, both mentally and financially, and will release much needed extra money into the local economy” the meeting deliberated.
Pamela Fitzpatrick, Harrow East Labour parliamentary candidate last general election, later said: “Fantastic time see Harrow East raising this important issue. The Hugh cost of rents is pushing people in Harrow into poverty and the savage cuts to benefits by the Tory government means local people are often having to make a choice between eating and paying the rent”.
Another motion agreed by the meeting, as has been done by a number of other Constituency Labour Parties (CLP), was  demanding the restoration of the Whip to Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Harrow COVID winter grant less than neighbouring boroughs – very disappointing

Harrow’s share of the COVID Winter Grant (around £588K), is unreasonably less than Barnet (£987K) Brent (£1,142K) and Hillindgon (£831K).
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) grant, ring-fenced, is to enable to provide support to families with children, other vulnerable households and individuals from early December 2020 and covers the period until the end of March 2021.
In her letter, Clare Elliott, Head of Local Authority, Partnership, Engagement and Delivery division of The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Funding will be dispersed according to the population of each authority, weighted by a function of the English Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)”.
Harrow’s IMD has slightly improved over the years but has pockets of serious deprivation. For example, two of Harrow’s Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are amongst the 20% most deprived in England – the Woodlands and Cottesmore Estates in Stanmore Park ward and parts of the Headstone and Headstone Lane Estates in Hatch End ward.
Not sure if Harrow MPs have questioned the government calculations for the Harrow grant.
However, on the basis of the information by Harrow council corporate Director Alex Dewsnap, Harrow council looks to have good plans to use the COVID winter grant. Mr Dewsnap explained the dispersal of the grant:
“The council to fund through our schools’ voucher systems £3 per child on Free School Meals per day for the two week break at Xmas and £3 per child for the 1 week February half term.
“Additionally, we are also adding an additional £10 per child for the Xmas break. We have roughly 2,250 children eligible for FSM so this works out at £288,750”.
He added: “We started the communications with schools last week on this so that the vouchers can be with parents before the term ends”.
The COVID grant could be used by giving in cash, vouchers and spending on buying/distributing food.
Mr Dewsnap informed that the council has been ‘working with Harrow Community Kitchen who has been central to the community hub food support through the HelpHarrow portal since March, and this service is funded until the end of March 2021’.
We tried but did not find nor received public information about who is/are running and managing the work of the Harrow Community Kitchen!

How ‘superficially’ council handles community matters: Harrow council inadequate Islamophobia response raises further concerns

Many feel that Harrow council has generally failed to meaningfully recognise, support the Islamophobia awareness month campaign or to show any commitment to embed the awareness in the work of the council.
It is quite worrying to hear comments like: ‘frogs before Muslims, only in Harrow could this happen’ with reference to the council supported campaign ‘Harrow Go Green, meaning that where fits, the council can indulge in campaigns of its choice.
Only on 23 November, following an early petition to the council and our article on 18th, Harrow council has now tweeted:
HCISLAMOPHOBIAThe council is not a charitable welfare organisation, providing face cream and tissues to the victims but is a service provider where they need to embed community concerns in its work in a meaningful way. It is highly concerning that the council either does not fully understand its role and functions or does not take these seriously.
In a broader sense, it is not only the Council’s response to Islamophobia that is concerning but how superficially and deceptively the council handles community matters.
For example, adopting Islamophobia paper definition or organising a webinar for few invited attendees  is good but not good enough to take practical steps like to map the campaign scope across the work of the council and integrate it in the council drive for equality.
Pity that Harrow council still lacks a firm public statement in this Islamophobia awareness month supporting the awareness campaign in clear terms, like: ‘This Council supports raising Islamophobia awareness with a firm commitment that the awareness gleaned would inform the council plans to tackle all forms of racism, prejudice and discrimination’ without worrying about any backlash from others!

Harrow council less responsive to Islamophobia, highlights a petition

A petition to the Labour run Harrow council asks for specific inclusion of Islamophobia in the implementation of its motion for ‘commitment to fighting systemic racism’ (July 2020), and to put out a public statement in support of the Islamophobia Awareness Month campaign.
The petition is launched days after the Guardian reported a new poll which found that more than half of Muslim members of the Labour party do not trust Keir Starmer to tackle Islamophobia, with nearly the same proportion saying they do not have confidence in the party’s complaints process.
Early this year, members of the party’s own black and minority ethnic staff network expressed concerns that there is a perception within the party that some forms of racism are regarded as more serious than others.
In setting the background of the Harrow petition, the petition highlights:
“In the past year alone there has been an alarming increase of 92% of recorded Islamophobic hate crime.
“Just last month, local and national press reported that Kamaljit Chana, also a Harrow councillor, has been found guilty of religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace: (“I do not like Muslims” the Times reported, and that the tribunal also found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Kamaljit Chana said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”.)
“Last November LBC reported “Anjana Patel, a councillor in Harrow, who tweeted angrily at Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, asking her “how are you going to help?” after Hindu girls in India were molested and converted to “her religion” (Islam). As if it was somehow Malala’s responsibility.”
The petition asks for the Harrow council to take immediate action against Islamophobia including fully and meaningfully recognising November as Islamophobia Awareness Month and taking part in the awareness campaign.
Regarding a private Zoom meeting with few selected attendees organised by the leader of the Harrow council to mark the Islamophobia campaign, the petition says:  “It is highly concerning and unacceptable that the council is not engaging with the local Muslim community about this serious issue. Why is the council not strongly deploring this hatred in all its forms on a public platform?”
Unbelievable that Islamophobia campaign is supported by some behind closed doors but not in public, especially by those who take some voters for granted.
Also concerning that more space has been provided to a small religious group in Harrow West that is less likely to rock Labour boat as they intend to put forward a number of their members for the councillorship through the Labour selection process!
Similarly, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has  written a patronising letter of support to some initially.
Conservative group on the council is far more open and positive.
“November is Islamophobia month.  We wish our friends in the Muslim communities well.  Harrow’s Conservative Group condemns all forms of racism, prejudice and discrimination and we stand together with all communities that make up the rich diversity of the citizens of Harrow” said the leader of the Conservative group Cllr Paul Osborn.

Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Review, Harrow interested

MVCCIn a forthcoming presentation to the Harrow Health and Social Care Scrutiny, the NHS England and NHS Improvement update on the review of all of the cancer services provided by Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (MVCC).
The Centre is run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and the services delivered from a site in North Middlesex managed by the Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is a stand alone cancer centre.
The services include outpatient chemotherapy, nuclear medicine, brachytherapy and haematology, provided by the Mount Vernon team, as well as radiotherapy and inpatient services.
Geographical Distribution of Patients shows that Harrow CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) has referred 3,254 patients to Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in the last three years.
As people live longer, more people with cancer are also living with other illnesses or conditions which require treatment alongside their cancer treatment. This cannot be done at MVCC and therefore they have arrangements with 16 other hospitals to provide the support that is not available at MVCC – this can cause problems when those other hospitals have their own priorities, such as anaesthetics support during the first covid peak. This also means patients have to travel much further for some treatment, for example patients requiring treatment for haematological malignancy travel to UCLH (University College London Hospitals).
The review is run by a Programme Board which is led by the Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning for NHS England in the East of England who are looking at the future clinical model of the services, including whether there is a single new cancer centre, or whether there is also a day hospital (ambulatory centre) on a second site, or even if there is a variation of one of those.
The clinical team is going to make a recommendation in December. They are not looking at the location of the services.
Click here to find out more about the review or how to let know your views.

Council’s bold response to Black Lives Matter

Following the council motion for ‘commitment to fighting systemic racism’ (July 2020), Black Lives Matter protests, coupled with the Public Health England report evidencing the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people from a BAME, the council plans to focus its work initially on race and ethnicity to support the council in its on-going commitment to being an anti-racism organisation.
According to the chief executive report before the forthcoming cabinet, the Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion strategy will have an initial focus on responding to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter agenda and is intended to set the foundations for improving the experiences of all Harrow residents and staff.
The council takes notice that:  people from BAME backgrounds were up to twice as likely to die from Covid than people of white ethnicity, 7.5 times more likely to be homeless, are overrepresented in lower pay bands, and that absence and exclusions of children of black heritage in Harrow schools are above the national average.
In explaining why a change is needed, the report informs: “The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minnesota, USA has highlighted deep inequalities and systemic racism that still exists in this country and other countries around the world and has left many of our staff and residents feeling hurt, scared and angry.
“It also comes at a time when we know that Harrow and people from Black, Asian and Multi Ethnic (BAME) groups have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. We have reflected on the findings set out in the Public Health England report on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 in the UK and discussed with trade unions, members and staff about how best to go forward.”
The programme of work that includes development of an Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Framework will be enhanced through working closely with a range of local agencies, statutory partners and the voluntary and community sector. The council has allocated £100,000 for this work.
No obvious support by Harrow MPs for such a positive initiative by the council!
Covid cases in Harrow20,572 and 156 deaths as at 8/11/2020

Unholy Labour divide in Harrow!

Harrow Labour division – apparently Gareth Thomas MP Harrow West constituency V Labour candidate Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick Harrow East constituency  – became so obvious at the last general election where Gareth Thomas drained most Labour resources and Harrow East Labour election campaign was left to rely mostly on the out of borough resources for the campaign activities.
A similar situation existed at the 2017 general election when Navin Shah (Lab) was given only few weeks to canvass the constituency with the help of his friends and family (he didn’t win but significantly reduced sitting MP Bob Blackman’s majority).
After a local Labour party meeting, Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick tweeted on 22 October:
Now following Jeremy Corbyn scenario, the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors (Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick being a founder member) have called for Jeremy Corbyn to be reinstated to the Labour Party after he was suspended, which many suspect in a vindictive move,  after he issued a statement in response to the publication of an Equality and Human Rights Commission report.
“Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong anti-racist campaigner who for decades has consistently offered – even when many others have too often stayed silent – his full and complete solidarity to ordinary working people in all their diversity.
“Jeremy Corbyn embodies the anti-racist struggle, and we are appalled that he has been suspended from the Labour Party. We call for him to be reinstated” said the socialist group.
As expected, a few Harrow Labour councillors, Gareth Thomas supporters, who were hardly near last Harrow East election campaign, toxically twitted supporting Jeremy Corbyn suspension!


TfL funding – government demands completely unacceptable

NS2“I’m at the forefront of challenging the Government’s draconian demands and working closely with stakeholders like Age UK London and Transport for All” says Brent and Harrow GLA member Navin Shah.
“TfL now needs a long-term, sustainable funding arrangement to keep services running, but the Government have dragged their heels” he said.
As part of the negotiations for funding the Government has put forward the following key demands as the bargaining chip:
  • Extend the Congestion Charge Zone to the North and South Circulars so that it covers 4 million more Londoners
  • Fares increase above inflation
  • Introduce a new council tax precept on Londoners which will substantially add to the council tax burden for struggling Londoners
  • Scrap free travel for 11-18 year olds
  • Reduce concessionary fares for 60 plus
“I find it disgraceful that Londoners and TfL are punished by government for acting responsibly and following the guidelines during the pandemic” said Navin Shah.
The London mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected and condemned the Government’s proposals at every opportunity.

Racist attack on a Harrow immigration solicitor: ‘anti-immigration rhetoric and its awful consequences’

Following the racist attack on a Harrow immigration lawyer, in a letter sent to the Guardian more than 800 former judges and senior legal figures have accused the UK prime minister Boris Johnson and his home secretary Priti Patel of endangering the personal safety of lawyers through their abusive attacks on the profession and should apologise.
Earlier this month, at the Conservative party conference, Patel broadened her targets, claiming that among those defending the “indefensible” and “broken” immigration appeals system were “do-gooders, lefty lawyers, the Labour party”.
In his conference speech, Johnson went further, declaring he would prevent “the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the home secretary would doubtless – and rightly – call the lefty human rights lawyers and other do-gooders”.
Commenting on the government’s anti-immigration rhetoric and its awful consequences, Emma Wallace Green Party Brent and Harrow GLA candidate said: “The home secretary ignored intelligence reports and is recorded using inflammatory and derogatory language to describe immigration lawyers, in effect contributing to a rise in hatred and extremism, rather than quell it.”
A Harrow man Cavan Medlock, 28, is charged with a racially or religiously aggravated attack on Sheroy Zaq, a solicitor and supervisor within the public law and immigration departments at Duncan Lewis in Harrow.
Medlock allegedly attacked the solicitor’s offices days after Priti Patel claimed that “activist lawyers” were frustrating the removal of failed asylum seekers.
“It is incredibly concerning to hear that the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, dismissed intelligence briefings from counter-terrorism police over the alleged far-right terror attack that was attempted at a local Harrow law firm at the beginning of September” said Ms Wallace.
Highly concerned about the safety of the immigration lawyers in Harrow, Harrow Law Centre director Pamela Fitzpatrick, also a Harrow councillor and Harrow East Labour candidate at the last general election, said: “This is very worrying as Harrow Law Centre has three immigration solicitors and less funding for security than big firms. This is the result of the actions of the Tories calling us activist lawyers”.
“After the horrendous terrorist attack on a Harrow Solicitor I am calling on Bob Blackman (Tory MP for Harrow East) to give a public apology for the comments made by Priti Patel and Boris Johnson that have led to the attack and to apologise for his own role in encouraging the far right in Harrow” demands Ms Fitzpatrick.
“Brent and Harrow are diverse boroughs whose residents deserve to be protected by government – not undermined and endangered by it. I call on my fellow GLA Brent and Harrow candidates to condemn the Home Secretary’s inflammatory language and her lack of action on the threat from right-wing groups and individuals” Ms Wallace asks.
Labour Brent and Harrow GLA candidate was invited for his comment.

Immigration ‘activist lawyers’ at risk of racist attacks – Harrow fears!

UPDATE: “After the horrendous terrorist attack on a Harrow Solicitor I am calling on Bob Blackman (Tory MP for Harrow East) to give a public apology for the comments made by Priti Patel and Boris Johnson that have led to the attack and to apologise for his own role in encouraging the far right in Harrow” demands Harrow Law Centre director Pamela Fitzpatrick, also a Harrow councillor and Harrow East Labour candidate at the last general election.

A Harrow man armed with a knife carried out a racist attack on a firm of lawyers in Harrow that he blamed for assisting migrants, the Old Bailey was told.
The Old Bailey heard Cavan Medlock, 28, arrived at the Duncan Lewis Solicitors offices in Harrow last September armed with a knife, handcuffs, a Nazi flag and a US Confederate flag.
Medlock is accused of planning to kill a lawyer from the firm because of their work representing migrants. He is charged with a racially or religiously aggravated attack on Sheroy Zaq, a solicitor and supervisor within the public law and immigration departments at Duncan Lewis.
Adam Harbinson, for the prosecution, told the court that after his arrest Medlock allegedly told the police that he planned to “take a member of staff hostage and place the flags in the window so that like-minded people would take action”.
Medlock allegedly attacked the solicitor’s offices days after Priti Patel, the home secretary, claimed that “activist lawyers” were frustrating the removal of failed asylum seekers.
“This is very worrying as Harrow Law Centre has three immigration solicitors and less funding for security than big firms. This is the result of the actions of the Tories calling us activist lawyers” said Harrow Law Centre director Pamela Fitzpatrick, also a Harrow councillor and Harrow East Labour candidate at the last general election.
Harrow Law Centre is a small charity and receives very little in terms of public funding. Most of their income is generated through applications to trusts or from fundraising events.

Cash injection for historic Harrow sites welcomed

MACHeadstone Manor and Museum and Harrow Arts Centre have been awarded £244,971 and £356,237, respectively, as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future.
Headstone Manor and Museum is the home of Harrow’s History – from the more recent history of the area in the Grade I listed Manor House all the way back to 1310 before the manor was built. Whilst Harrow Arts Centre is the hub for culture and art in Harrow – hosting events from music, theatre, comedy, dance, and film events in the Grade II listed Elliot Hall to local community groups, classes and events in meeting rooms, rehearsal spaces, dance studios and art rooms.
Headstone Manor and Museum and Harrow Arts Centre are two of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support.
Cllr Keith Ferry, Regeneration, Planning and Employment Portfolio Holder, said: “The award of these grants to Harrow’s top cultural assets is very welcome as we seek to safeguard our cultural legacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This funding means that Harrow residents can continue to learn about the history of the area through a free high-quality museum service and learning programme, and enjoy a show or attend a class, exhibition or workshop – all currently virtually or socially distanced.”

Coronavirus increase in Harrow is quite concerning

London will move into Tier 2 from midnight tonight (Friday) as the daily increase in many London boroughs is quite concerning.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in London hit 68,740 today, with Barnet and Ealing continuing to be the capital’s worst-affected boroughs.
Harrow daily increase, 63 new cases just behind Barnet, is the fifth high in London – Harrow confirmed cases are 2,415 as of 16 October, significant increase in the past two weeks.
Tier 2 means a ban on household mixing indoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble. The rule of six will still apply to outdoor social gatherings and meetings in private gardens.
GHLeader of the Harrow council Cllr Graham Henson said the T2 decision was “necessary” to help keep people safe.
He said: “I understand this is a difficult and worrying time for our communities, residents and businesses but these new restrictions are essential to keep Harrow safe”.
Cllr Graham message is: ““We must all play our part to avoid further restrictions and keep Harrow safe. Please stay safe and take all necessary precautions to do so.”
Test centres in Harrow: In addition to the South Harrow walk-through testing centre at Brigade Close Car Park opposite South Harrow Police Station, the Edgware testing centre at Watling Community Centre, Orange Hill Road, HA8 0TR – is now open daily 8am to 8pm.
Tests must be booked in advance.

‘Build a Labour Party that will fight for the future we need’ say socialists

“From systemic racism to climate collapse, our political and economic system is in crisis. Things are not going back to normal any time soon” says the socialist campaign group ‘A United Left on Labour’s NEC’.
Resenting voices within the Labour party that is now under new leadership, point out: “The Labour Party has to tackle the failures of the rigged system head-on. That means embracing transformative socialist ideas that have massive public support and building a movement that can challenge the power of the billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for political elites.
“This platform for power is needed not only to elect a Labour government but to rebuild our society once in government. Half-measures and small reforms won’t be enough. The threats of the COVID crisis and an uninhabitable planet demand more than that”, posing  open challenge to the controversial new Labour leadership!
The socialist group is promoting a block of six socialist candidates for the Labour’s National Executive Committee: Mish Rahman, Gemma Bolton, Nadia Jama, Yasmine Dar, Laura Pidcock and Ann Henderson
Labour begins emailing out ballots for NEC election on Monday 19 October, voting closes on 12 November and results announced on 13 November 2020.
In Harrow, the NEC socialist candidates are more likely to be supported by the Harrow East Constituency Labour Party.
Harrow Labour division – socialists/non-socialists – became so obvious at the last general election where Harrow East Labour election campaign was left to rely mostly on the out of borough resources for the campaign activities.

Cllr Chana

“After reviewing the Employment Tribunal judgement, the Conservative Group on Harrow Council has voted to suspend Cllr Chana for the maximum period allowed under our rules, which is six months. This will allow the Conservative Party nationally to investigate further and if appropriate to take further action” says the Conservative group on the council.
Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a Muslim, has won claims for religious discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal after a manager Kamaljit Chana, also a Conservative councillor in Harrow, told her, “I do not like Muslims” the Times reported, and that the tribunal also found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Kamaljit Chana, a Sikh, said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”.
Chana’s unprofessional and discriminatory character emerging from the Tribunal findings where he has been found guilty of religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace, tenders his public office position unattainable and could reasonably be regarded as bringing not only his office as Councillor but also the Conservatives as well as the Council into disrepute’.
The Conservative Party will investigate Cllr Chana under the Code of Conduct for Conservative Party Representatives. After a review by an Investigating Officer, a panel appointed by the Party Chairman will examine the complaint and the evidence that has been gathered. This panel must include at least one independent person.

Up to £100 fine for street anti-social behaviour

We received reports of sighting Environmental Enforcement Officer at the Harrow Town Centre and were asked questions about their role, responsibilities and powers (couldn’t find this information on the Harrow council website!!).
These officers are in a police-like outfit, including wearing Body Worn Cameras which should only be switched on when approaching people to issue fines and record conversations. The officers should also let people know that they are being recorded.
We understand from the Harrow council that these officers or the council approved such third party officers are now doing a lot of work around covid-19 public and businesses engagement but their usual status, functions and powers are:
Status – on street, third party enforcement team works for the Community & Public Protection Team, handling low level environmental matters.
Functions – business as usual would be issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for low level environmental matters   – up to £100 fine.
They are authorised to serve FPNs and take legal action around a number of areas (e.g. littering, spitting, dog fouling or breach of a dog control).
Conducting legal criminal matters under the scope of PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) (apparently it is the police and not they who could book for legal crimes – however, they can detain for up to 30 minutes until a Police Officer arrives).
Keep the council clean campaign in some councils aims to catch those who undertake environmental crime. The campaigns have been publicised heavily, including bus panel posters and high street posters across the borough, media releases (newspapers), the council website and social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

Cllr Chana playing ‘appeal’ tactic

UPDATE: On our specific question whether Dyson is going to appeal against the Bristol Employment Tribunal decision in Zeinab Alipourbabaie V Dyson case, Dyson has replied:
“These allegations were investigated fully and disciplinary action was taken against Kamaljit Chana who was found to have acted inappropriately and no longer works for Dyson.”
Regarding the Tribunal decision, they said, “The claim of constructive dismissal was upheld on the basis of the harassment perpetrated by one individual and the tribunal found that Dyson’s promotions process and decisions were not discriminatory.”
Implicit response to our question therefore is that Dyson needs not to appeal against the Tribunal decision as the Tribunal decision was on the basis of the harassment perpetrated by one individual and not due to the Dyson HR specific process.
We understand Cllr Chana can’t appeal against the Tribunal decision in Zeinab Alipourbabaie V Dyson case himself.

Former Dyson Engineer Zeinab Alipourbabaie, who worked for Dyson at its bases in Wiltshire, succeeds in harassment and discrimination claim.
Bristol Employment Tribunal upheld three allegations of harassment related to religion and one allegation of religious discrimination brought by her.
Miss Alipourbabaie claims related to her treatment and discriminatory comments said by senior technical project manager, Kamaljit Chana, also a Conservative councillor for the ethnically diverse Pinner South, Harrow Council.
Appeal play: Dyson has to lodge an appeal against the Tribunal decision within 42 days – Dyson has not said they are lodging such an appeal! But by bringing the possibility of an appeal, Cllr Chana is seemingly trying to delay the Conservative group’s decision making process.
Irrespective of whether an appeal is lodged against the tribunal decision or not or the outcome of an appeal if lodged, the fact is that the Tribunal found that in a one-to-one meeting with Miss Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Dyson manager Mr Chana, said: “I do not like Muslims” “Muslims are violent“ and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”.
The Judgment of the Tribunal stated: “Mr Chana then proceeded to exclude Miss Alipourbabaie from meetings and emails making it difficult for her to carry out her role, both of which the Tribunal found amounted to harassment related to religion.”
The Judgement also included: “Although Mr Chana denied he had made those comments, the Tribunal said Miss Alipourbabaie’s evidence was both compelling and persuasive.”
In any case, the concern about Cllr Chana suitability as a Conservative party member and a councillor is that:
‘Cllr Chana’s unprofessional and discriminatory character emerging from the Tribunal findings where he has been found guilty of religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace, makes his public office position unattainable and could reasonably be regarded as bringing not only his office as Councillor but also the Conservatives as well as the Council into disrepute.’
This case should serve as a reminder to others that when in a position of authority, all must be treated absolutely fairly and that any harassment and discrimination on grounds of religion will not be tolerated by the council or the political groups on the council.

‘I don’t like Muslims’: Conservative group objectively investigating the councillor

Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a Muslim, has won claims for religious discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal after a manager Kamaljit Chana, also a Conservative councillor in Harrow, told her, “I do not like Muslims” the Times reported last Sunday.
Bristol employment tribunal ruled that Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a senior electronic engineer at Dyson in Wiltshire, was excluded from meetings and emails, criticised unfairly to the company vice-president and advised against promoting her by a senior technical project manager, Kamaljit Chana.
The tribunal also found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Kamaljit Chana, a Sikh, said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”, the Times reported.
In responding to the demands for action against Cllr Chana, Cllr Paul Osborn leader of the Conservative group on the Harrow council has assured:  “We take these allegations extremely seriously and are investigating them whilst following due process”.
Harrow Monitoring Group has reported Cllr Chana to the Conservatives with a specific question ‘how Chana with such unacceptable attitude towards Muslims can ever be a member of the party and a councillor?’
A Pinner resident expressed typical local concern: “To read the comments by Kamaljit Chana is frightening and damaging Muslims. How can we stop dangerous people like Kamaljit Chana?”
“We will not hesitate to take firm action accordingly. We await publication of the tribunal judgement and we will scrutinise this ruling” Cllr Osborn reassured.
Cllr Osborn appears serious: should he be point scoring, the easiest was to immediately suspending Cllr Chana then re-instate him later as the Conservative party has done in many such cases.
Although Cllr Osborn couldn’t say more at this stage, the reported evidence against Cllr Chana is overwhelming which is likely to result in his exclusion from the Conservative group or even him resigning from the council himself.

Another Harrow known Tory character in news!

UPDATE: pressure is building on the Harrow opposition group (Conservative) to immediately suspend Cllr Kamaljit Chana from the group while this matter is being investigated with the eventual outcome to expel him from the party.
Formal complaints have been made to local and national Conservatives, including by the Harrow Monitoring Group. Cllr Chana’s political future is seriously in danger.

Bristol employment tribunal ruled that Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a senior electronic engineer at Sir James Dyson’s bases in Wiltshire, was excluded from meetings and emails, criticised unfairly to the company vice-president and advised against promoting her by a senior technical project manager, Kamaljit Chana, (also a Conservative councillor in Harrow).
“Bristol employment tribunal found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Chana, a Sikh, also said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”, reports The Times.
The company said it had disciplined Chana for bullying, “These allegations were investigated fully and disciplinary action was taken against Kamaljit Chana who was found to have acted inappropriately” the Times reports.
The Conservative Party said it would investigate if it received a complaint, according to the Times.
Harrow surprised? Before this:
Anjana Patel, a Tory councillor in Harrow, “tweeted angrily at Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, asking her “how are you going to help?” after Hindu girls in India were molested and converted to “her religion” (Islam). As if it was somehow Malala’s responsibility”, included in ‘LBC obtains dossier showing 10 Tory councillors sharing Islamophobic comments
Stephen Wright, a Tory councillor, was censured by Harrow Council’s standards working group, which unanimously found he had brought his office into disrepute.
It came following a complaint from a woman who alleged he had “used information to exaggerate his influence as a powerful decision-maker to form an inappropriate personal relationship with her” reported the Harrow Times.

Coronavirus concerns in Harrow

“There have been numerous reports in the press and across social media about the significant rise across the county of people being tested positive for Covid-19 and residents, like us, are quite rightly worried about a second wave of the virus” Cllr Graham Henson, leader of the Harrow council, has said.
National press reported the number of coronavirus cases have doubled in Harrow in the space of a week.
In the seven days to September 1, there were 41 new cases in the borough, which doubled in the week to September 8, reported MyLondon.
Cllr Henson informs the rate of infection in Harrow was at 26.4 people per 100,000 residents as the latest data show (32.3 according to MyLondon), below 40 that could trigger local lockdown.
“Currently, there are no plans for the drastic local lockdown action in the borough as there has been in other parts of the country, however we will not hesitate in using the new enforcement and closure powers if we need to” said Cllr Henson.
“If we are to reduce the spread of the virus in Harrow we must all continue to do our bit – by continuing to wash our hands and wear face coverings and social distancing where possible. Remember the Hands, Face, Space mantra” appeals Cllr Henson.
Cllr Henson reminds: “The new rule of six is now effective and we must all see it as a helpful means of virus control. It is there to protect our friends and families and save lives. Remember to get tested if you have any symptoms and let’s work together to track Covid-19. We must be all doing our bit to keep Harrow safe”.
Another local concern about the coronavirus is that some Harrow pupils have been tested positive on their return to now reopened schools (they have not been infected at the schools).
In any case, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has raised concern: “I am told that parents & their children cannot get an Covid test in or near Harrow”.

Coronavirus alert!

GHFollowing the national rise in coronavirus cases (352,560 cases and 41,586 deaths as of 9/9/2020), Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson alerts “Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the borough, as well as other parts of London, are indeed rising”.
He informs that last week, council data showed there were 54 confirmed coronavirus cases in the borough in the final week of August – those aged 20-50 are the most affected group – but overall below the figure where a local lockdown would be considered.
“The rise comes as we return to places of work and school and bring about some normality in visiting shops and restaurants again. But the risks of catching and spreading the virus when we are outside of our homes increase. You are most at risk when in busy crowds, confined spaces or close contact with others” he said.
Both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer showed less care for C19 spread and favoured fully re-opening the schools: we  drove pass some high schools in Harrow at the closing – streets were full of readily  mingling pupils – no masks, no social distancing – very worrying indeed!
In a separate move, the Socialist Campaign Group asks the government to pursue zero covid strategy which puts the health of the people first.

Council could reopen Neighbourhood Resource Centres soon

Harrow council is carrying out risk assessments to see how the three Neighbourhood Resource Centres in Harrow, closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, could be reopened safely.
Council wants these assessments detailed and include all the measures that would be needed for the safe re-opening of the buildings, including social distancing, hygiene and regular cleaning, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), one-way systems within the buildings, and transport arrangements.
But the council alerted “We are also mindful that winter may bring some additional challenges – we wouldn’t want to reopen and be faced with having to potentially close them again”.
Opened in 2009, Neighbourhood Resource Centres in Harrow usually provide vital day care services and therapy for people with learning difficulties whilst also giving the families much needed respite from their roles as carers.
“To reopen safely we would need to use the spaces in the Centres differently – including reducing the number of people attending at any time to meet social distancing guides and to prevent the spread of covid. One way we could do this is by running morning and afternoon sessions rather than whole day sessions so that we could support more people in the centre.  We are also looking at how we could establish “bubbles” for staff and users to minimise risk” explained a council spokesperson.
Regarding the users concern about the loss of the centres services, the council spokesperson claimed “We are in regular contact with our clients and their families keeping them updated on the status of the centres. We have been carrying out social work reviews to ensure care plans are adapted to provide the right care and support needed. We have also developed outreach and community activities for some of our citizens, including home visits and taking some people out for short trips or walks and have moved some activities online using WhatsApp and Zoom”.
However, all users are not happy with the arrangements. A local GP whose severely disabled brother attended a local neighbourhood resource centre for many years, reported to the Harrow Monitoring Group that ‘poor communication has resulted from these closures as well as failure to negotiate the alternative services offered’.


Harrow opposition slipping back to Hall era negativity

barriersAs previously reported, Harrow has secured London mayor funding to deliver more pedestrian space to help with government required social distancing. This includes pavements in some areas are to be temporarily widened by using barriers as confirmed by the deputy leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Keith Ferry.
The extra width of the temporary pavements will allow pedestrians to pass each other while social distancing since public safety is a priority during the coronavirus.
No doubt coronavirus preventive measures, like use of the barriers in some parking spaces to widen spaces for public movement, have implications for businesses,  but most are not selfish and support the measures.
Given the significance of the barriers in ensuring public welfare and safety, the Harrow opposition’s play that the barriers ‘will upset a lot of people’ looks unpleasant point-scoring, as it used to be under Cllr Hall’s confrontational leadership of the Tory group.
As the opposition leader Cllr Paul Osborn seems more worried about a ‘decrease in footfall at shops’ because of restricted parking and his deputy  Cllr Marilyn Ashton about the possibility of  ‘more businesses forced to close’, it looks they are towing their party’s practice ‘money before people’.
However, Cllr Ferry on the basis of a council survey,  has said that ‘widened pavements are likely to attract more customers’.


Significant GLA cuts, alerts Brent & Harrow assembly member

Budget pressures

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all parts of the economy, with potentially damaging consequences for London. By implication, the Mayor’s Budget has also been significantly affected, forcing the Greater London Authority (GLA) to make savings across the board” alerts Navin Shah, Brent and Harrow assembly member.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that City Hall faces making up to £500m in cuts to public services if the government fails to provide financial support to local authorities.
The London Mayor has called upon central government to do the responsible thing and provide the urgent emergency funding needed to protect policing, fire and transport services, but this has not been forthcoming, Mr Shah shares his concern.
Further savings are possible by relocating the City Hall to the ‘Crystal’ building based at the Royal Docks. This is estimated to save £55 million over 5 years.
“As Chair of the London Assembly, I am working on a cross-party basis to scrutinise the proposals to relocate City Hall and have written to the Mayor and Chief Officer of the GLA on the back of concerns raised by Assembly Members at a recent Oversight Committee meeting” he informs.
Regarding  the government’s short-term ‘bailout’ of Traffic for London, forcing TfL to suspend free peak hours travel for over 60s and abolished free travel for under 18s, Mr Shah says he  has been working with Age UK, alongside other campaigners to oppose these punitive conditions.
In a money saving measure, London mayor has taken a 10% pay cut as he called for Boris Johnson to bail out local authorities facing funding shortfalls due to coronavirus.


Thomas not a party expressing solidarity with migrants

refugeesSocialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs has recently signed a letter expressing solidarity with migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, and affirming the moral and legal right for refugees to claim asylum in the UK.
The letter, signed by over 30 Labour MPs, articulates that it is often aggressive wars led by the UK and our allies that forces people to flee their homes and that this gives us a special responsibility to these people.
As expected the letter has not been signed by Harrow West Labour MP Gareth Thomas who actively supported Blair attack on Iraq that killed innocent people and damaged the country. He was also one of the  Labour MPs who voted for bombing in Syria , out of line with their then party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and  remained active in undermining Corbyn.
The letter says rather than treating these people with hostility, with threats to deploy military vessels to deter crossings, the UK should provide safe and legal routes to people seeking to claim asylum.
As usual, the government is playing ‘immigration’ card when chips are down.
Latest drive by the Conservative government is a blatant attempt to distract from their calamitous handling of Coronavirus, which is leading to economic turmoil that will devastate working people’s livelihoods, reminds the letter.
The work of the social campaign group is supported by many including the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors – the national convenor Brent councillor Jumbo Chan and a prominent  member Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick. The group believes acting as conduit for socialist values in local government.
Although the Labour ‘civil war’ under its present leadership is not that big in Harrow, the next Harrow elections would be quite interesting as many Labour voters associate the party with socialism, and could react to the in-party drive against the socialists and might not vote.

Harrow secures London Streetspace Programme funding

St proposalsA total of £683K has been allocated to Harrow for the programme to deliver pedestrian space, low traffic neighbourhoods, strategic cycling and school streets as the government is keen to reopen the economy, despite concerning spikes of Covid19 cases in the UK (1,328 cases in Harrow).
The Mayor of London launched the London Streetspace Programme with government funding support to transform London’s streets to accommodate increases in cycling and walking as government C19 restrictions are eased.
Harrow could do with more and better physical exercise as the evidence indicates that a third of people in Harrow do very little physical activity and two thirds are overweight and both these factors increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and/or cancer.
According to a Traffic and Road Safety Advisory Panel report, the Harrow programme aims to support the changes in the way the public travel during the health crisis through the measures including:
(a) To reallocate carriageway to pedestrians by suspending sections of  barriers to extend pedestrian space in 9 key locations in the borough, including Station Road, Harrow – Civic Centre, shops & Mosque, and High Road, Harrow Weald.
(b) To support the delivery of strategic cycling measures e.g. meaningful measures that reallocate road space from vehicles to cycles and provide physical segregation – primarily at Honeypot Lane, Sheepcote Road, Greenhill and Uxbridge Road Harrow Weald.
(c) Restricting the streets surrounding a school to traffic at opening and closing times except for local residents living in the street – three primary schools and one secondary school have been proposed – Grimsdyke School, Newton Farm School, Marlborough School and Park High School.
Apparently an online information and engagement portal was set up by the council in June 2020 to be a focal point for residents and businesses with regard to the Harrow Street Spaces Programme but not well publicised as usual. Very interesting that only the percentages of comments rather than the number of people participated in the  ‘Public Engagement Portal Feedback’ have been documented – therefore no way of knowing the level of public ‘engagement’!!