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Belmont councillor was told off at cabinet meeting

The opposition Tory group on the Harrow council appears to be less confrontational since councillor Susan Hall stepped down and councillor Paul Osborn became the leader of the group, but there are exceptions.
There have been concerns about the conduct of Tory councillor Anjana Patel, rejected by West Harrow and controversially adopted to the Belmont ward, at the recent cabinet meeting for being aggressive and scoring irrelevant political points.
During the councillor questions time, she asked how safer is Harrow?
Councillor Krishna Suresh, Portfolio Holder for Community Cohesion and Crime, explained, for example,  that the safer Harrow partnership has focused on violent crimes which has made significant difference.
“Harrow is a safer place and our residents are safer” said Cllr Suresh.
He pointed out that the number of police on the street is likely to make more difference.
“I look forward to the reverse of the government cuts on the police number so the number of crime can be brought down” he said.
Cllr Patel moved beyond the scope of her question and said, “If mayor Khan did not spend lot of money on his PR, he would have been able to give us more money”.
Focusing on the Harrow situation, Cllr Suresh tried to share crime specific statistical information  but Cllr Patel kept saying it is the mayor Khan who has not given enough money/police.
Fed up with her outbursts, Leader of the council Cllr Graham Henson, the chair of the meeting, has to stop Cllr Patel and said, “I have not got the time to educate you about the police budget, about the government reduction by millions of £s” and asked her to move on.
Cllr Patel like those she follows on social media seems to have a problem with the London mayor SADIQ KHAN and misses no opportunities to hit him!
AP3

 

Blackman tries to defend indefensible!

bb4In his glossy autumn leaflet, Bob Blackman, Tory MP for Harrow East, has tried to portray his as well as his party’s inclusive image, most probably to counter his apparent divisiveness label.
But readers are not impressed!
The leaflet highlights the selected PM Boris Johnson’s cabinet which Johnson claims reflects “modern Britain”, including diversity (Black, Hindus, Jews and a Muslim) – though many of his cabinet members have unsavoury views , particularly about LGBT.
On the same page Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for London mayor, has been singled out to fight knife crime in London if elected without contextualising why this crime, for example Tory government cuts and socio-economic deprivation.
The left hand column of the page lists Mind in Harrow forthcoming fundraising events while ignoring  what Mind,  the mental health charity, is complaining about, like: “Pressing risks caused by sub-standard mental health facilities have been completely ignored in today’s funding announcement for NHS hospitals”, said Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns Mind, who was responding to the health secretary’s speech at the Tory conference.
In the inside pages Mr Blackman prides himself with speaking at the MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq) conference in Albania –  the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is widely considered to be an alias for the MEK, an outside-Iran ‘political cult’ whose leader is still banned by London.
In outlining the performance of the Tory held wards in Harrow East, Mr Blackman mentions the councillors’ hard work to drive out travellers from the parks while in fact these were the police and the council who helped to resolve the situation amicably.
Regarding his ‘inclusive’ socio-political approach, Mr Blackman’s record of voting at the Commons speaks loudly:

  • Almost always voted against laws to promote equality and human rights
  • Almost always voted against equal gay rights
  • Almost always voted against allowing marriage between two people of same sex
  • Consistently voted against UK membership of the EU
  • Generally voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK
  • Generally voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the “bedroom tax”)
  • Almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
  • Generally voted against measures to prevent climate change

Harrow West Tory candidate tries building bridges!

AASoon after her selection as the Tory parliamentary candidate for Harrow West, Dr Anwara Ali visited Harrow mosque and said in her video clip that she had a great time offering her prayers and chatting to worshippers.
Later defending Boris Johnson ‘letter-box’ reference to Muslim women and calls for the Tories to launch an independent inquiry into alleged Islamophobia in the party, Dr Ali said the PM Boris Johnson whose forefathers are Muslim (but is he?), has apologised for the clumsy use of metaphors and that the Tory party is not islamophobic, it is Labours propaganda to smear them.
However, concerns about Tory party attitudes are widespread.
There was a “significant spike” in Islamophobic incidents after Boris Johnson compared women in burkhas to “letterboxes” in his Daily Telegraph column last year – a near four-fold increase (375 per cent).
Mohammed Amin, who served as chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum quit the party after 36 years, following the announcement that Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister.
Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi, past co-chair of the Tory party, led calls to launch a “full independent inquiry” into Islamophobia in the party.
Writing for the Guardian, she said: “I’ve been warning my party of its ‘Muslim problem’ for far too long,” and said that elite indifference to the issue meant the Tories were stuck with a political strategy that amounted little more than “fuck the Muslims”.
Sajid Javid, the then home secretary contesting to replace Theresa May in Downing Street, urged his rivals to agree to a probe into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
A number of Tory party members have been suspended for posting or endorsing Islamophobic material online.
In the local context, Harrow East Tory MP’s divisive conduct has been a matter of great concern. Not only this but Harrow East Tories also seem selecting and nurturing Tory representatives who look much more interested in supporting Indian politics. There is no Muslim Tory councillor in Harrow.
As a Tory candidate, Dr Anwara Ali does not say how she would be challenging the Tory party divisiveness which has serious implications for groups of people!

 

Labour shortlists Brent & Harrow candidates

candidateMomentum backed Aghileh Djafari-Marbini (photo with Corbtn) and Brent councillor Krupesh Hirani have been shortlisted and will be on the One Member One Vote ballot where the party members will decide who will be the Labour candidate representing Brent and Harrow.
Aghileh Djafari-Marbini, a socialist, mum, school governor, NHS worker and resident of North West London for the last 20 years, believes that Londoners need an Assembly that fights the inequalities and injustices in their city and works for all.
She recalls seventy-two fellow citizens burned to death in Grenfell Tower and over 87,000 children in London are homeless, and says that the savage Tory cuts have decimated our youth services and damaged our town centres.
“Now more than ever London needs a City Hall with a socialist vision and the energy to engage people across the city” she says.
Labour is going through the selection process because Navin Shah, the sitting assembly member with over 20,000 majority, has decided to step down.  Navin Shah has retained the seat since 2008 when he defeated Tory member Bob Blackman, now controversial MP for Harrow East (Navin Shah came very close to defeat him at the last general election).
HirBrent councillor and a council cabinet portfolio holder Krupesh Hirani, university graduate in politics, 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 Mr Hirani is seen more at certain cultural activities, he says he believes in representing all. Mr Hirani informs that he has spent his working life with organisations that support disabled people.
Mr 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”.
Two Harrow councillors, both previous Harrow mayors, failed to reach the final stage of the selection process.
Tory candidate for the seat is karate champion Molly Irene Samuel-Leport MBE from outside Brent or Harrow.

 

Blackman for Harrow?

bb4Tories have selected the sitting MP Bob Blackman to stand for Harrow East again despite he being labelled as a divisive opportunist.
There are widespread concerns that Mr Blackman is not really interested in Harrow.
Majority of Harrow residents voted to remain in Europe but Mr Blackman is not representing them, instead he pleads for Brexit and asserts that it will help more business opportunities with India, in line with his strategy to access Indian background voters.
Not only this but he also colluded with Boris Johnson who unlawfully suspended the parliament in order to get away with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
Many local politicians have taken stand against the closure of walk-in medical services by the Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) but Mr Blackman has failed to raise the issue.
Since Theresa May took over as home secretary in 2010, Harrow has lost over 173 police officers. Added to this, people are concerned at the increase in knife crime in Harrow and government’s failure to provide the resources to deal with this issue – the government has cut the Harrow youth offending team’s funding by £409,130 since2010 (66 percent cuts) – Mr Blackman has not intervened.
In Harrow, 46 of 50 schools have suffered £27.2M cuts to per pupil funding between 2015 & 2019 which on average is £286 per pupil loss but ignoring this, Mr Blackman keeps misleading that the government has increased education funding.
Residents say they have not received any convincing answers from Mr Blackman regarding what he has done for Harrow or how he is helpfully working with the Harrow council.
Harrow has a rich diversity of cultures and religions and deplores any divisiveness.

 

Harrow West gets a Tory candidate!

aliDoctor Anwara Ali defected from Labour to Tories some years back, has been selected as the Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrow West.
Brought up and educated in Tower Hamlets, Dr Ali MBE, a businesswoman, was a councillor and a Mayoral candidate in the borough.
She is said to be passionate about the NHS, women’s right to choose, and halting the use of West Harrow open spaces.
Being from the Bangladesh community, probably she has been promoted by the Conservatives Friends of Bangladesh, seemingly the only Muslim political group that has actively supported Boris Johnson and Harrow East MP Bob Blackman.
Dr Ali selection seems to be quite strategic as Tory party has been facing calls to investigate Islamophobia  in the party, Bob Blackman has “shown a consistent record of endorsing Islamophobia” and Harrow Conservatives have no Muslim councillors.
Harrow West sitting MP Gareth Thomas has seen a notional swing in favour of the Tory Party’s Dr Rachel Joyce of 5.7% in the election. After a small 1.1% swing to the Tories in 2015, it swung back heavily to Labour in 2017 by almost 11%, with their largest majority since they first gained the seat in 1997 of over 13,000.
Dr Ali might not be able to beat the majority, but expectations are that her Harrow West presence could help to gain certain votes for Tories in Harrow East, a highly marginal seat.
Tories have selected the sitting MP Bob Blackman to stand for Harrow East again despite he being labelled as a divisive opportunist, not really interested in Harrow.
Harrow has a rich diversity of cultures and religions and deplores any divisiveness.

 

Labour interest free loans for electric cars policy welcomed

PamPamela Fitzpatrick, Labour’s candidate for Harrow East, welcomes the scheme that will benefit estimated 3,351 households in Harrow East.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announced that Labour will introduce 2.5 million interest free loans for the purchase of electric cars and has released estimated figures showing how many households in each constituency could benefit from the policy.
The interest-free loans will require participation in a mass trial of Vehicle-2-Grid technology which will allow electric cars to store excess energy from the national grid and the UK to transition to renewable energy.
The scheme will also boost the British automobile industry and support the UK’s transition away from petrol and diesel cars which will also be beneficial in terms of the climate as well as for those people who want to convert their carbon-fuel powered car into an electric vehicle that is sustainable.
“This is an excellent scheme that will help ensure that normal people have access to the Electric Car Revolution not just the elite” said Pamela Fitzpatrick.
“Clean transport should be available to everyone. We estimate that 3,351 households in Harrow East could benefit from this policy” she added.

 

Harrow Tories who supported Boris Johnson unlawful action should also resign

Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.  Gina Miller, who led the successful Supreme Court challenge against #prorogation says “even the Prime Minister” is bound by the rule of law.
The verdict: “The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”
There is widespread demand for the prime minister to resign and be legally responsible for his unlawful advise to the Queen and stopping the democratic process at the Commons.
Bob Blackman, conservative MP for Harrow East, as well as some Harrow Tory councillors (Cllrs Susan Hall & Anjana Patel tweets & retweets) publicly supported the Prime Minister’s decision.BJ

 

Harrow CCG hiding behind NHS cuts and chopping health care provisions!

thumbDespite public outcry, Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced to end walk-in services in Harrow as Javina Seghal, chief executive of Harrow CCG, declares Pinn Medical Centre will also become appointment-only.
This follows similar change to the Alexandra Avenue Health Centre last year and Belmont Health Centre will be facing it in November.
Widely used walk-in centres allowed treatment of illnesses and injuries, without an appointment, where patients can’t get GP appointment promptly.
Harrow CCG tries to defend its decisions which adversely impact on public health care saying it is in red and that decisions have been made after ‘consultation’ (with who?) – but many question the quality of its management and the thriving governing body.
The Health and Wellbeing Board, chaired by the leader of the Harrow council and well represented by the Harrow CCG, is supposed to hold the CCG to account but is ineffective in doing so, resulting in heavy-handed cuts in many aspects of the health care services and provisions.
GPs, including in Harrow,  are urged against referring patients to hospital specialists and consultants, and some outpatient appointments will be axed, as part of a controversial programme of NHS to be introduced in London, resulting in rationing knee replacement, knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery), interventional treatments for back pain, varicose vein procedures, shoulder decompression and cataract surgery.
Thirty three  procedures covered under PPwT policy for which hospitals have to make individual funding request to the CCG.
Previously was the impingement upon patient rights where the Harrow CCG has instructed GPs not to prescribe the items which the NHS England had said should be prescribed if the patents do not wish to buy. And the list can go on!

 

A Harrow counselling service ending

HCCThe Harrow Counselling Centre will be closing its doors after 30 years this week.
The qualified counsellor of 30 years and sole director Jackie Tancred is retiring and no one has come forward to take over the centre at Greenford Road.
The centre that saw over 2000 people during the last 15 years and has over 9000 telephone clients, offers a range of affordable professional counselling to the local community for both men, women and couples.
The service includes a skilled counsellor listening and helping clients to understand how past experiences, worries about the future or lack of confidence may be affecting their life. The counsellor will not tell what to do or give advice, but will help clients make their own choices.
When started, the centre tried to get funding through the health authority at the time but was refused. Since then the centre has been funded purely by the clients and the voluntary work of professionally qualified counsellors.
Describing the process to establish the centre, Jackie Tancred informed “Initially we put our own personal money into the centre and with the help of local communities who gave small donations, along with client fees have kept going”.
“Quite frankly I tried very hard to get someone to take over a flourishing, thriving counselling centre and could not – it is sad” she said.
“I do not think that there is anywhere that offers affordable professional counselling particularly for men in Harrow now” she added.

 

Starved NHS hits Harrow health care again

NS4North-West London GPs are urged against referring patients to hospital specialists and consultants, and some outpatient appointments will be axed, as part of a controversial programme of NHS to be introduced in London.
This is in addition to thirty three  procedures covered under PPwT policy for which hospitals have to make individual funding request to the NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) where  the  treatment falls under the ‘not normally funded’ category.
Gareth Thomas, the Harrow West MP, said the new plans amounted to rationing.
Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, not really interested in Harrow issues, has shown no interest in the dire effects of rationing the health care.
The procedures for rationing looked at includes: knee replacement, knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery), interventional treatments for back pain, varicose vein procedures, shoulder decompression and cataract surgery.
The sweeping changes were communicated in a letter from the North West London Collaboration of clinical commissioning groups (NWLCCCG), which funds NHS health services for more than two million Londoners, on the same day the prime minister reinforced his commitment to funding the NHS while announcing he was suspending parliament.
The expected deficit for 2019/20 in north-west London was previously £51m, but this has more than doubled with a further £61m identified – a total of £112m. Harrow CCG was put into special measures because its forecast deficit of £40 million.
Pamela Fitzpatrick Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East said “Boris Johnson claims to care about our NHS whilst outpatient appointments are axed and our walk in centres are being closed at a rapid rate”.
“We have suffered nine long years of cut backs and the public have simply had enough” she added.
It’s time to invest in our vital services and a Labour Government will give the NHS the money it needs, she said.
Adam Bernard, Liberal Democrat candidate for Harrow East, said “We understand that the NHS here is under a lot of pressure, but we are concerned by these proposed restrictions. It is important that all patients can get the specialist care they need”.
Lisa-Maria Bornemann, Liberal Democrat candidate for Harrow West, said “It’s alarming that the Conservative government is wasting money on Brexit, when the NHS is in desperate need of financial support.”
Previously, Harrow resident have been deprived of walk-in centres which allowed treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, without an appointment. This followed the impingement upon patient rights where the Harrow CCG has instructed GPs not to prescribe the items which the NHS England had said should be prescribed if the patents do not wish to buy.

 

Gareth Thomas on the ball

GarethAs the Tory government is in deep crisis, Labour MP for Harrow West Gareth Thomas assures “I am absolutely committed to acting in the national interest, making sure residents voice is heard, and will continue to do everything I can to prevent the Prime Minister from crashing this country out of the EU”.
Harrow majority voted to Remain in the EU!
His reassurance is welcoming as the MPs and Lords have passed the Bill to require the Prime Minister to seek and accept an extension of the Brexit deadline if a deal has not been agreed by 19 October and Parliament is still opposed to No Deal; it should soon receive Royal Assent and become law.
“I have always been opposed to leaving the EU without a deal as I believe it would be disastrous for our country. The Government’s own leaked assessments and warnings from leading industry figures have highlighted the damage it could cause” he said.
He reminds:
The British Medical Association has said that the consequences of No Deal could have “potentially catastrophic consequences for patients, the health workforce and services, and the nation’s health.”
Make UK, which represents 20,000 British manufacturers has said that leaving without a deal would be “the height of economic lunacy”.
The National Farmers’ Union has said that No Deal would have a “devastating impact” on British food and farming and “must be avoided at all costs”.
Those who would pay the price of No Deal would be working people, their families, and communities in Harrow and across the county, Mr Thomas said.
“It is absolutely vital that we first prevent a disastrous No deal Brexit taking place on October 31. Until that is secured, with no room for doubt, I can assure that I will be voting against any measures which allow for an early general election” he said.
On the other hand, Tory MP for Harrow East is colluding with Boris Johnson who has become the first premier since the Earl of Rosebery in 1894 to lose his first parliament vote. In one week this week, he has sacked 21 Tory MPs, has collapsed his own working majority from one to minus 43, has been deserted by his own brother as well as the Tory leader in Scotland, and has achieved defeats at the Commons and Lords.

 

Harrow hits Johnson hard for his plan to shut down parliament

Parliament is to ‘prorogue’ or shut down for five weeks as the prime minister has not got sufficient support in Parliament for his undemocratic No Deal Brexit plans. This will be the longest prorogation of Parliament since 1945.
“This is a shocking and scandalous decision by a Prime Minister who, far from seeking to unite the country, has sought to avoid scrutiny and accountability at every turn, not just from Parliament but from journalists and the media too” said Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West.
“By shutting down Parliament, Boris Johnson is deliberately attempting to avoid any challenge to his deeply worrying plans to crash our country out of the European Union without a deal” he added.
Cllr Graham Henson, the leader of Harrow Council, said that the prime minister’s move to leave the EU without a deal would be a “disaster” for Harrow.
Highly concerned Pamela Fitzpatrick Labours parliamentary candidate for Harrow East said “Suspending Parliament to prevent scrutiny show us exactly what lengths this Prime Minister with no mandate will resort to. There is every indication that the UK is heading for a recession”.
She reminded the Financial Times editorial on 28/8/19: “History has shown that charlatans, demagogues and would-be dictators have little time for representative government. They seek ways around parliament before concluding it is an inconvenience.
“Mr Johnson may not be a tyrant, but he has set a dangerous precedent. He and the cabal around him who have chosen this revolutionary path should be careful what they wish for”.
Harrow’s Liberal Democrat candidates reacted angrily to the news of parliament’s prorogation.
Adam Bernard, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Harrow East said: “Shutting down democracy in order to force through a Brexit that neither the people nor Parliament want is the act of a dictator.”
Lisa-Maria Bornemann, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Harrow West said: “Boris Johnson has shown that all he cares about is getting his own will, even when it comes at the expense of damaging our country. This behaviour is selfish and cowardly, and it must be stopped”.
As expected, Tory MP for Harrow East Bob Blackman supports shutting down the parliament to impress certain voters in his highly marginal seat that the Brexit would enable more trade with India and Israel.
Strong public feelings at the Defend Democracy – Downing Street demo against shutting down parliament, held on 31 August 2019 (footage below)

Belmont walk-in health services likely to be cut

After closing the walk-in centre at Alexandra Avenue, Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is all set to end walk-in services at Belmont Health Centre, one of the remaining two such services in the borough.
Walk-in Centres and Urgent Care Centres (UCCs) are an alternative to accident and emergency (A&E) departments and treat minor illnesses and injuries, without an appointment.
Speaking at the Commons in April this year, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas warned, “Not only is there no prospect that the Alexandra Avenue walk-in centre will be reopened, but other walk-in centres that serve Harrow are vulnerable to the threat of closure at a moment’s notice”.
Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, busy in attracting some voters by siding with Indian-occupied Kashmir politics, has not shown any such interest in this Harrow issue!
adamAdam Bernard (photo), Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Harrow East has started a petition to save the Belmont walk-in services.
“The plan seems to be that Harrow CCG will save money by forcing many people to seek treatment elsewhere. That plan might be good accountancy but it doesn’t seem likely to be good for patients” said Mr Bernard.
He is particularly worried that they justify this change by saying that it will allow them to deny services to people who live outside Harrow.
“Their plan has the effect of moving the costs to other CCGs, as well as inconveniencing patients in the process” Mr Bernard says.
PamHarrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick (photo), Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East, has criticised proposals to close the Belmont Walk in Centre and urged the government to provide sufficient resources to allow the centre to remain open.
Harrow CCG was put into special measures because its forecast deficit of £40 million due to the NHS cuts.
“The closure of Belmont Walk in Centre could not come at a worse time. The winter is approaching, Northwick Park is already overstretched and local people are often having to wait weeks for a GP appointment. This will only get worse if Belmont walk in clinic is closed” warns Ms Fitzpatrick.
Under the Labour government from 2000, 230 Walk in centres were opened nationwide – the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition government of 2010 closed 51 and the Tory government has closed a further 44 of the remaining 185 centres.

Is council using parking charges and penalties money well?

parkCouncils in England could make a record surplus of £1bn from parking charges and penalties this year, reports BBC.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding described £1bn as “quite a windfall from a service that is intended to be all about managing traffic”.
Harrow council made £8.310 million in 2017/18 and £9.174 million in 2018/19 which ought to be spent on local transport improvement – for example to providing a high quality parking service and a fair, consistent and transparent approach to parking management and sensible traffic enforcement.
The money made includes the fine collected from Penalty Charge Notices. Harrow council issued 168,079 PCNs in 2017-18 compared with 78,333 in Hillingdon, 190,737 in Brent and 241,350 in Barnet.
Many feel that on times the PCN is a easy way to generate revenue rather than in the interest of traffic management. The PCN validity depends on who is issuing it and how it is issued, according to a ruling at the High Court.
As well as managing Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) and local parking schemes, the council also enforces other traffic and parking. This includes: School Keep Clear Enforcement, Yellow Line Enforcement, bus lanes and bus stop parking as well as on-street pay and display parking bays.

 

Blackman not interested in Harrow

bb4Having calculated votes in his highly marginal Harrow East constituency, divisive MP Bob Blackman works all the time on Indian background voters for political gain, for example, playing Indian-occupied Kashmir game, while doing nothing for Harrow.
Equally concerning are few opportunist Tory councillors who are paid £8000+ councillor allowance for the ward welfare but work as foot soldiers for Mr Blackman instead.
Majority of Harrow residents voted to remain in Europe but Mr Blackman is not representing them, instead he pleads for Brexit and publicises that it will help more business opportunities with India.
People in Harrow are concerned at the increase in knife crime and government’s failure to provide the resources to deal with this issue – the government has cut the Harrow youth offending team’s funding by £409,130 since2010 (66 percent cuts) – Mr Blackman has not intervened.
He has not questioned about the usefulness of the youth work in Harrow, Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board and the effectiveness of the Harrow Police & Crime Plan (PCP) priority to reduce the number of young people involved in youth violence and gang crime and to decrease the number of young people carrying offensive weapons.
Since Theresa May took over as home secretary in 2010, Harrow has lost over 173 police officers.
In Harrow, the impact of austerity has been shocking.  Already one of the lowest funded councils in London, his government’s reckless policies continue to put an unacceptable strain on borough finances and cause damage to the residents – Mr Blackman has not really put forward Harrow case.
Over 30% of children in Harrow live in poverty where child poverty is rising to 40% in some wards. Last year, the Harrow food bank fed over 2617 people, including over 1041 children – Mr Blackman has done nothing to ease the situation.
In Harrow 46 of 50 schools have suffered £27.2M cuts to per pupil funding between 2015 & 2019 which on average is £286 per pupil loss – ignoring this, Mr Blackman mischievously keeps talking about government increase in education funding.
If there was ever a much-loved and vital service that told the story of the NHS funding crisis in north-west London, these are the walk-in centre closed by the Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that has been put into special measures because its forecast deficit of £40 million – Mr Blackman failed to raise the issue.

Harrow Youth Offending team funding slashed – Blackman done nothing

PamPeople in Harrow are concerned at the increase in knife crime and rightly feel let down by the government’s failure to provide the resources to deal with this issue, says Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Harrow East (photo).
The government has cut the Harrow youth offending team’s funding by £409,130 since2010 – meaning cuts of 66 percent.
Nationally, the Tories have slashed central government funding for youth offending teams by over half from £145m in 2010/11 to £71m in 2017/18.
“It was completely unacceptable for the Tories and, in coalition, the Lib Dems to cut this funding” said Cllr Fitzpatrick.
“It is appalling that, with youth violence rising, the government is still failing to prioritise funding for this essential service. This is a big issue yet Bob Blackman has done nothing to address this problem” she said.
[Divisive Harrow East MP Bob Blackman has calculated his votes and his priority is to work on Jewish and Indian backgrounds voters by cashing in on situations like that in Kashmir or Palestine. For example, he has supported far-right Modi government’s widely condemned recent action to oppress Kashmir people by taking back their right to decide their futures – far right Hindu nationalist domination in India is well summed up by Haaretz.com*]
Cllr Fitzpatrick demands that the government must guarantee the resources needed to protect our community and help prevent young people from getting involved in crime in the first place.
*Ind2

 

Harrow challenges Government’s austerity programme

imagesA motion at the Council meeting on 18 July 2019 demands the incoming Tory prime minister to take responsibility for the terrible human cost of his party’s austerity programme and make the necessary investment to properly fund public services.
The movers of the motion councillors Graham Henson and Adam Swersky point out that “Austerity has caused huge damage to communities up and down the UK, with devastating effects on key public services that protect the most defenceless in society – children at risk, disabled adults and vulnerable older people – and the services we all rely on, like clean streets, libraries, and community centres”.
In Harrow, the impact of austerity has been shocking.  Already one of the lowest funded councils in London, this government’s reckless policies continue to put an unacceptable strain on our finances and cause damage to our residents, highlights the petition.
Over 30% of children in Harrow live in poverty where child poverty is rising to 40% in some wards. Last year, the Harrow food bank fed over 2617 people, including over 1041 children.
The Young Harrow Foundation’s Needs Analysis found that 20% of Harrow’s young people need mental health support while 17% need help with suicidal thoughts or know someone who needs this help.
The government has cut the budget of the Metropolitan police drastically, forcing a reduction in officer numbers with fewer 3,000 police officers and 3,000 fewer community support officers in the capital compared to 2010 – crime has increased.
This year, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime has found a link between these cuts and the rise in youth violence which has also been witnessed in Harrow.
Harrow has  seen an increase in violent crime with knife crime becoming a more frequent occurrence.
Inevitably, it is our residents who suffer these strains, whether it be through reduced services or increased council tax, says the petition.

 

A Harrow Tory councillor condemned

WrightHarrow council’s Standards Working Group found that Tory councillor Stephen Wright, a Pinner ward colleague of the opposition leader Cllr Paul Osborn and once a close friend of the controversial previous opposition leader Cllr Susan Hall, brought his office and the council into disrepute.
Last June, Standards Working Group considered complaints from a female resident that councillor Wright had breached the code of conduct for councillors and members. She alleged that he used information to exaggerate his influence as a powerful decision maker to form an inappropriate personal relationship with her.
The Working Group heard from the complainant, the investigating officer, witnesses and the councillor and unanimously concluded that Councillor Wright had breached the code.
It found that councillor Wright failed to treat others with respect; compromised the impartiality of those working for the Council; used his position improperly to secure an advantage; breached the Protocols on Members’ Access to Information and on councillor/officer relations; and inappropriately involved himself in the day to day management of council services by:

  • Making some inappropriate physical contact with the complainant
  • Seeking a frequency of contact with her that was not justified in the circumstances
  • Exceeding the normal professional boundaries of a councillor-resident relationship in the frequency and timing of his contact with her and the suggested locations of meetings
  • Describing council officers as liars trying to whitewash events, and exceeding his role by attempting to secure the suspension or dismissal of an officer
  • Attempting to secure privileged meetings between the complainant and senior officers
  • Retaining confidential papers on his personal device when asked not to by the court

In view of the above breaches the Working Group unanimously recommended that Cllr Wright be censured and that this notice be read out at Council, and put on the council’s website and in a local newspaper.
There are demands for Cllr Wright to resign because of the seriousness of the matters – there could be a Pinner ward by-election soon!
Online petition to remove Harrow Councillor Stephen Wright From Power

 

Knife crime – serious concerns in Brent and Harrow

NS2“I have seen the devastating impact of violent crime on my doorstep – last year, there were 89 stabbings in Harrow and 202 in Brent” informs the Brent-Harrow London assembly member Navin Shah (photo).
“The consequences for the people involved, their families and the wider community are heart-breaking” he said.
Knife crime has risen by 60% in England and Wales since 2013/14 and by 46% in London over the same period.
The Mayor of London has taken action to clamp down on the rise in violent crime. In 2017, the Mayor launched City Hall’s first ever ‘dedicated anti-knife crime strategy’ that included the establishment of a new Violent Crime Taskforce comprising of 272 officers working to take weapons off the streets and targeting the most dangerous criminals in the capital.
Also, London mayor’s new Violence Reduction Unit will build on the preventative action already taken by the Mayor such as the establishment of the £45 million Young Londoners Fund.
However, the government have been slow to act and inconsistent in their approach to tackling violent crime, reminds Navin Shah. He said Theresa May, the prime minister, had initially suggested police numbers did not make a difference on crime levels, only to equivocate on the issue after.
Likewise, while the home secretary has called on the government to treat knife crime as a public health issue, the health secretary has dismissed this idea, stating: ‘If you say it’s a public health issue that implies it’s nobody’s fault‘.
“We desperately need the government to show leadership on tackling knife crime and not only reverse the cuts that it has made to policing but to properly fund youth services, education and housing services which are all factors which increase the likelihood of a person committing violent crime” said Mr Shah.
Recent rise in the stabbings in Harrow has raised questions about the usefulness of the youth work in Harrow, Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board and the effectiveness of the Harrow Police & Crime Plan (PCP) priority to reduce the number of young people involved in youth violence and gang crime and to decrease the number of young people carrying offensive weapons. Further concern that the Harrow youth violence scrutiny review lacks rigour .

 

Education cuts hitting hard!

A one-off increase of £3.8bn would be needed to reverse 8% cuts in per pupil school spending, the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis shows.
cutsIn Harrow 46 of 50 schools have suffered £27.2M cuts to per pupil funding between 2015 & 2019 which on average is £286 per pupil loss – source Harrow school funding cuts (individual school cuts could be worked out).
The IFS says a further £1.1bn would be needed each year up until 2023 to maintain spending in real terms, once rising costs were taken into account.
“It’s the largest reduction in education spending for at least 30 or 40 years or longer, so it’s not surprising it has generated political pressure,” says their economist Luke Sibieta.
School budgets have moved up the political agenda, partly as a result of campaigning by parents and teachers across England (footage of the Together for Education – national protest against school cuts in London on 22 June 2019).

 

Harrow youth violence scrutiny review lacks rigour

It can only be good that Harrow council scrutiny committee commissioned a review into preventing youth violence as the fear of this crime is high  in the borough.
The purpose of the review was to investigate how the council work might contribute to reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour.
While the rationale for the review is good, the Preventing Youth Violence Scrutiny Panel report (21 May 2019) has serious shortcomings. The report is more descriptive than evaluative, lowering its usefulness in tackling youth violence.
Much write-up is about the methodology that includes meetings with and references to the youth specific research/field work by the council, police and voluntary sector without evaluating the effectiveness and outcomes of their work, resulting in less well informed and inadequate recommendations.
YCOn the question of the failure to positively engage young people through meaningful activities, the Harrow council has a lot to answer, like the appropriateness of its youth services and the missed opportunities to engage youth. Bottom line is to provide activities to help keep young people away from crime. Young people also need to learn new skills or get advice about school or jobs.
Recent rise in the stabbings in Harrow has raised questions about the usefulness of the youth work, Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board and the effectiveness of the Harrow Police & Crime Plan (PCP) priority to reduce the number of young people involved in youth violence and gang crime and to decrease the number of young people carrying offensive weapons.
Many believe that a lack of visible police officers in the streets and there being nowhere for young people to go in Harrow are reasons for a rise in violent crime in the borough.
The report is silent on these concerns!
Having detailed the youth work relevant to reducing crime, undertaken by various agencies and at various levels – council and voluntary – the report fails to identify the crucial need to have more and better coordination amongst the providers, a longstanding challenge for Harrow.
The report repeats the gap of intervention services for young people in the transition age group, growing drug use amongst young people and the need for a streamlined approach to ensuring all council strategies consider youth violence as driving out crime – all well known factors in the borough for quite some time.
Some recommendations have serious omissions: the key recommendation ‘each time a strategy or policy is reviewed a specific perspective on reducing youth violence should be included’ looks less meaningful without highlighting a need to map the work of the council where reducing youth violence could have taken place but is not.
While meeting the needs of young people through the Glasgow originated ’lens of a public health approach’ has been repeatedly articulated in the report, there is no appreciation that unlike Glasgow, Harrow has an exciting regeneration programme which could helpfully involve youth,  meet some of their needs and by implications help in reducing the youth-related crime on a long-term basis.

 

Proposed Harrow bus route changes

Transport for London is proposing some changes to the bus network in Harrow town centre, particularly between Harrow bus station and Northwick Park Hospital.
They are seeking views on the proposed changes to routes 186, H9, H10 and H14.
Their proposals are to:

  • Withdraw route 186 between Harrow bus station and Northwick Park Hospital. Route 186 would terminate at Harrow bus station
  • Extend route H14 from Northwick Park Hospital’s main entrance to terminate at St Mark’s Hospital, following the existing alignment of route 186. This would give an increased frequency of buses servicing St Mark’s with a bus every 9 to 10 minutes compared to every 12 minutes now
  • Move the terminus of circular routes H9/H10 from Harrow bus station to Northwick Park Hospital. This would give a more direct bus link between the South Harrow area and Northwick Park Hospital
  • Withdraw bus routes H9/H10 from Northwick Avenue and Rushout Avenue, in both directions, and instead operate a more direct service along Kenton Road between Kenton station and Northwick Park roundabout

Public views matters. The TfL previously consulted on the withdrawal of route 223 between Northwick Park Hospital and Harrow bus station and following the consultation feedback, they are no longer proposing this and the route 223 will continue to terminate at Harrow bus station.
Click here for the consultation which is open until Wednesday 31 July 2019.

 

Harrow East Labour supports ending immigration detention

DetentionHarrow East Labour becomes the first CLP (constituency Labour party) to send the Momentum backed  Labour Against Racism And Fascism motion – End Immigration Detention – to the Labour conference 2019.
The motion asks an incoming Labour Government to end the Detention Estate and adopt a community-led response for migrants that challenges xenophobic sentiment and supports the vulnerable, promoting wellbeing and combating criminalisation of migrants.
A community-based approach to immigration and asylum systems, without detention, to encourage social inclusion and promote human dignity.
Pam“The UK is the only EU country that detains migrants indefinitely and every year detains thousands of migrants, some held indefinitely in inhumane conditions. The system of immigration detention is also costly and ineffective.
“We need a system that is fair and treats vulnerable migrants with dignity. I am delighted Harrow East CLP supports this motion” said Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick (photo), Labour parliamentary candidate for Harrow East.
The UK has one of the largest immigration detention networks in Europe having over 8 detention centres and locks up thousands of people in immigration detention every year – for example, in 2018, 24,748 people were put into detention.
The motion reminds about the out of control violence and mental ill-health faced by detainees – 11 reported deaths in 2017, 2 suicide attempts per day, a 22% rise in suicide between April and June 2018.
Also reminded is the inhumane conditions and cases of rampant racist, sexual and sexist abuse by staff reported at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
On 8 May 2019, Amnesty International UK handed in 100,000-strong petition to end indefinite immigration detention, alongside Liberty, Women for Refugee Women, Freed Voices and the Asylum Justice Project.

 

Ashton V Ferry!

Councillor Marilyn Ashton, a planning expert who has been kept away from the planning committee by her successive group leaders since her return to the council in 2011, grumbles that the Harrow Labour administration is not providing real opportunities for a cross-party work on regeneration programme.
Delivering action plan for the Heart of Harrow Opportunity Area is a £1.75Bn investment programme into Harrow and Wealdstone town centres which will deliver 5,500 new homes, two new schools, around 3,000 new jobs and a district heating network to service major sites.
Cllr Marilyn Ashton, deputy leader of Harrow opposition Tory group, said the planned meetings to further the cross-party work have not always taken place, seemingly because of the lack of commitment by Cllr Keith Ferry, responsible for planning and regeneration at the council.
The two councillors seem to have somewhat love and hate working relationships – when Cllr Ashton chaired the planning committee during the pre 2010 one-term Tory administration, Cllr Ferry was an opposition member on the committee and the public gallery observed that he frequently did not speak throughout a meeting in protest if not happy with some aspects of the chairmanship.
Regarding working together on an upcoming regeneration project, Cllr Ashton said, “We’re going into what is essentially a joint venture with the private sector and we would like to be involved in the decision-making”.
Cllr Ashton’s offer seems a departure from the opposition’s past confrontational approach, particularly under the previous leader of her group Cllr Hall.
The council works much better when the opposition works as a critical friend, assisting the administration whenever possible and suggesting healthy alternatives whenever necessary.
In responding to Cllr Ashton, Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson said “We genuinely would like to work cross-party and I’ve seen this take place on a number of council committees”.
Harrow seems to be doing well in carrying out its regeneration programme. For example, some developments around the Harrow Town Centre:

Labour tops EU votes in Harrow

euelexThe Labour is the big winner in Harrow in the European Parliament elections, securing 16,312 votes (Lib Dem: 14,116 Brexit Party: 12,004 Green: 5187): source
Tories with 9814 vote are in the fourth place and in London no longer have any MEPs having lost the two seats they won in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
In EU referendum Harrow East and Harrow West constituencies voted to Remain though Harrow East MP Bob  Blackman didn’t know how his constituency voted and pleads for Brexit.
Mr Blackman in a most marginal seat heavily relies on his divisive approach to attract the Indian and Jewish background voters by taking sides with international disputed matters.
In emotion-raising argument, he argued that Brexit would enable more and better trade opportunities with India and Israel.
His general Brexit theme alerted the hardliners, “Western powers are caught between contrasting policy alternatives in key areas, including their dealings with the Middle East and their visions for the future of Iran and its regional power structure”.

 

Outgoing Harrow mayor found in breach of code of conduct

Councillor Kareema Marikar,  ex-Harrow mayor, breached the code of conduct by bringing the council into disrepute, finds the council’s Standards Working Group.
Cllr Marikar visited high ranking officers of the Sri Lankan Army during her trip last year and posted photos of her meeting in which she is wearing the mayoral chain.
“She conducted herself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Council and her office as Councillor into disrepute by uploading photographs of herself and a member of the Sri Lankan military onto Facebook causing distress to the local community” the Standards found.
KMMembers of Harrow’s Tamil community got upset by the mayor posting pictures of her meetings with the army officers on social media alongside messages praising the soldiers for their service, given the army officials’ involvement in the Sri Lankan civil war which killed many of their kith and kin in their former home country.
Tamils handed in a petition calling for her to resign and complained to the Harrow Council’s Standards.
In the known history of Harrow mayor’s office, this was the second protest against a serving mayor – previous was in 1989-90 by the Asian Parents Group during the mayor’s controversial visit to a primary school.
Standards recommended and the Monitoring Officer concurred that Cllr Kareema Marikar should be censured and that a notice should be placed on the Council’s website and in a local newspaper. Not sure whether a Harrow Mayor has been formally condemned before.
As an ambassador of the borough, mayor’s position is graceful but for last few years, Harrow mayors seem to be associating more with their background and acting accordingly – this is most unhelpful.

 

Labour to look for Brent & Harrow GLA candidate?

Soon after the European Parliamentary elections, Labour is likely to start process to select their London assembly candidate for Brent and Harrow as Navin Shah, the sitting assembly member, has seemingly decided to step down (not announced in this window).
Navin Shah has ably retained the seat since 2008 when he defeated Tory member Bob Blackman who is now controversial MP for Harrow East  (Navin Shah came very close to defeat him at the last general election).
Prominent local names floating for the selection, are:
The Momentum supported Aghileh Djafari-Marbini, mum and NHS worker, who has been very active in challenging inequality and social injustice, particularly in the area of health provision, in tune with Corbyn.Ir2
“In more recent years, coming from a family of NHS workers has given me renewed sense of urgency for what the Labour Party can offer our country” she said.
She is a well known supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and once said: “socialism have become active again in droves since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader”.
Aghileh Djafari Marbini stood for London Labour regional board and was a Labour candidate for Headstone North ward at the last council election (did not win but did very well in a traditional Tory ward).
HirBrent councillor and a council cabinet portfolio holder Krupesh Hirani, a university graduate in politics, who has a lot of experience in the political sector and held a number of posts in this area.
During the Operation Black Vote Shadowing Scheme Mr Hirani was mentored by dynamic David Lammy MP – he seems to have good grip on a variety of socio-political matters, significant to a wider society.
Though Mr Hirani is seen more at certain cultural activities, he believes in representing all. Mr Hirani informs that he has spent his working life with organisations that support disabled people.
Mr 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”.
Harrow councillor and past mayor Ajay Maru who has a Masters in hairdressing and has opened three hair salons and a training centre in the borough. Mr Maru is a friendly face at cultural events, mostly Asian.
Mr Maru is interested in local communities – for example, he believes that the UK should look to strengthen its relationship with India amid uncertainty around Brexit.Am
At the re-launch of the Labour Friends of India, Mr Maru spoke of the important connection between the two countries.
“This is about improving interaction and engagement between the UK and India and making the relationship greater than it already is” he said.
Either of these local hopefuls could easily beat the Tory’s out of borough candidate.

 

Increased food banks demand in Harrow – ‘scandalous’

food-parcelThe Trussell Trust which runs food banks in Wealdstone and South Harrow reports a 24 per cent increase in food banks demand in Harrow.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, 2,617 three-day emergency food supplies were given out in Harrow.
The emergency supplies are nutritionally balanced, non-perishable tinned and dried foods that have been donated by people in the local community.
More and more people are struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food, partly because the current five week wait for Universal Credit is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. Evidence shows that other changes to the social security system are also major driver of food poverty.
According to the Trust for London, 27 per cent of children in Harrow are living in poverty – that is, the children living in households with incomes below 60 per cent of the median income. Higher levels of poverty are in Edgware, Greenhill, Roxbourne and Wealdstone.
Navin Shah AM, London assembly member for Harrow and Brent, describes the increased demand as “scandalous”.
“Whilst the Government is well aware of the key factors that are driving so many local families into food poverty, they are choosing not to act” he said.
Previously the Trust for London said that Harrow’s progress in addressing poverty is a case of mixed picture.
“In a number of areas it is performing well, especially in relation to some health and educational outcomes, but doing poorly in relation to affordable housing and is least progressive when it comes to council tax and low income families amongst London’s boroughs”.
Economically, London is a wealthy city but that wealth is not shared by all – the richest 10% of London’s households own 50% of the capital’s wealth, the poorest 50% of Londoners own just 5% of the city’s wealth.
What happens in macro, is likely to happen in micro!

 

Adult social care – Harrow struggling!

The recent Harrow People magazine informs: demand for the adult social care is going up and the council tax is rising because of it.
The client group for this aspect of the care includes people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairment, and mental health or physical conditions.
With the rise of the council tax comes the expectation of good quality services and provisions as well as the best value for money. In this respect, Harrow adult social care presents a mixed picture.
Since 2017, many councils have developed Wellbeing and Resilience Framework to provide clarity on why wellbeing and resilience are important, and how they will be systematically improved and strengthened with their residents, and for all ages.
Harrow has now come up with a somewhat deficient Resilient Harrow Programme for the consideration of the Health and Wellbeing Board (this multi-agency forum, chaired by the leader of the Harrow council, receives verbal and written reports from the agencies which it  mostly takes as information rather than professionally scrutinising these – such a weakness results in the concerning performance of the key partners like the Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group not being addressed).
(resilience: empowering citizens to maintain their well-being and independence, strengthening support networks within their families and communities; enabling them to be stronger, healthier, and more resilient).
Following the director of adult social services Vision last year, the council engaged the specialist adult social care consultancy agency Impower to review the impact and effectiveness of the first phase of delivering the Vision.
The diagnostic work identified significant areas where work is needed, like areas such as improving access to information, developing the range of community based resources available, making better use of assistive technology and developing and managing the adult social care market locally.
Such shortcomings are concerning (no lessons seem to have been learnt from similar weakness in many other areas of the council’s works over the years) and become more concerning considering that the adult care provision involves a variety of stake-holders like providers, staff, national bodies and people who use services, their families and carers which requires rigorous coordination and monitoring across the board.
The resilient programme also seems to be lacking focus on the awareness raising activities like the workshops for the stake-holders.
While there is a Resilient Harrow Board, the resilient programme lacks a Wellbeing and Resilience Framework to support and guide the ‘entire system’ (including public, private, community and voluntary services, and communities themselves) as well as to understand and strengthen the things that make people’s lives go well, so that people live the life they want. What a serious omission!
As the council has moved from the interim to substantial senior managers, expectation is improved quality assurance and business like effective and efficient work of the council.

 

Harrow health care concerns raised at the Commons

gtIf there was ever a much-loved and vital service that told the story of the NHS funding crisis in north-west London, it was the walk-in centre at Alexandra Avenue closed by the Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that has been put into special measures because its forecast deficit of £40 million, said Gareth Thomas MP for Harrow west  who was speaking at the Commons NHS debate on 24 April 2019.
“Not only is there no prospect that the Alexandra Avenue walk-in centre will be reopened, but other walk-in centres that serve Harrow are vulnerable to the threat of closure at a moment’s notice” warned Mr Thomas.
Another walk-in centre in Harrow is now only by appointment. The walk-in centre crisis in Harrow have an impact on Northwick Park Hospital that has not met the A&E waiting target as over the past five years, 25% of patients in A&E have not been seen within four hours.
In describing another damaging impact of the NHS cuts, Mr Thomas said “For the first time, the maximum two-week wait for a first consultant appointment after an urgent GP referral is not being met, according to the latest data on our area”.
The Harrow Monitoring Group has been reporting concerns about the Harrow CCG performance whether it is about the walk-in clinics, closing the NHS desk at the Wealdstone Centre, restricted hospital procedures under PPwT policy, quality of GP services  (the Care Quality Commission inspections found that at least seven GP practices in Harrow require improvement – a failing category) or the impingement upon patient rights where the CCG has instructed GPs not to prescribe the items which the NHS England had said should be prescribed if the patents do not wish to buy.
It can only be good that Mr Thomas raised the concerns.
The Harrow CCG is responsible for planning and buying (commissioning) many of the health services needed by approximately 260,000 people registered with GPs in Harrow. Its budget deficit situation has serious implications for the quality of GP services as Harrow CCG has full responsibility for the management of the primary care medical services where GPs have to operate within the tight finances allowed to them.

 

Harrow stabbings – serious concern!

864736dHarrow is having its share of knife crime surge in London, seemingly for the reasons similar to those in the inner city boroughs.
In September 2018, 24% of Harrow residents were concerned about knife crime in their area, increasing from 12% March 2016, according to the Harrow council report ‘Summary of Crime in Harrow in 2018’.
The fear of crime is highest in Harrow East and rising in both Harrow East and Harrow Central, according to the recent Metropolitan Police Service Public Attitude Survey (PAS).
Very concerning that Harrow East MP Blackman is not really pressing his Tory government for more resources for the borough. Similarly no obvious action by the opposition councillors from the Harrow East Tory wards to work with the council administration and the police to redress the residents fear of crime, despite enjoying extra responsibility allowances.
Figures from London’s Metropolitan police showed that knife crime surged by 16 per cent in the capital year-on-year in 2018, as Britain’s crime epidemic continues.

The knife attacks in Harrow in 2018 and 2019 so far, include:

  • A teenager was stabbed multiple times in High Street, Wealdstone yesterday (April 15)
  • In March this year, a Sri Lankan shopkeeper was stabbed to death at his shop in Pinner
  • Soon after and in a separate attack, the police were called to the scene in Station Road, less than two miles away, to reports of a 15-year-old boy being stabbed in a park
  • A 13-year-old boy was shot in the head after another teenager was injured in a gun attack in broad day light on a busy high street
  • In another incident, two teenagers were attacked in double horror stabbing
  • A man in his 20s was stabbed outside a restaurant at the Station Road Harrow

“Violent crime in Harrow has increased by 60%, and it is no surprise that this increase correlates to the reduction in police officers on our streets” Gareth Thomas MP for Harrow West previously said.
Recent rise in the stabbings in Harrow also raises questions about the usefulness of the Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board and the effectiveness of the Harrow Police & Crime Plan (PCP) priority to reduce the number of young people involved in youth violence and gang crime and to decrease the number of young people carrying offensive weapons.

 

Winner at Tory race for Brent & Harrow GLA seat

Brent and Harrow Tories selected their London Assembly candidate today from the three candidates shortlisted earlier.
Winner by wide majority: Molly Irene Samuel-Leport MBE, England born east Londoner, well known for her sports achievements, including 1987 Jamaican Jubliee Award for Excellence. She was an impressive orator.Molly
Molly Samuel is a member of the Conservative Way Forward advisory board along with Harrow councillor Paul Osborn, leader of the Tory opposition group. She is a six time karate world champion, and was the unsuccessful candidate for Walthamstow at the general elections.
She has been active in community matters and is well known for her interest in homelessness and social justice issues.
Molly Samuel believes that schools need to change to include self-defence and self-awareness education for young children of primary age.
Other two candidates were:
George Currie, the “son of working-class parents” who progressed to have a PhD in political philosophy, helpfully worked with the Brent’s diverse community. He is chair of Brent Central Conservative Association.
Mr Currie’s manifesto was to reduce crime by securing more police officers and working with local communities to introduce ‘safe zones’ across Brent and Harrow.
He said he would work to improve the availability of affordable housing by working with councils and developers to identify suitable sites and remove unnecessary blockages, and  improve the local environment by working with local residents and businesses to tackle issues, such as poor air quality and the illegal dumping of waste.
Kanwal Toor, self claimed Indian actress associated with luxury jewellery and fashion outlet, with little obvious political profile.
Social media search in her case revealed her qualifying comments like “I am proud to know Bob Blackman. Bob has done a huge amount work for Kashmiri Dogras” – Indian held Kashmir is very sensitive issue and a matter of grave international concern.  Good understanding that Brent/Harrow could do well without divisive Kashmir reference. Also, apparent  block vote, seemingly led by Harrow East divisive Tories, did not work.
Last time such a Kashmir specific credit was given to the divisive Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East who has been repeatedly exposed for his alleged interactions with far right elements [i] [ii], was by his previous assistant from Kashmir background  [i] [ii] who has  left Harrow since.

Tory race for Brent & Harrow GLA seat

Brent and Harrow Tories are to select their London Assembly candidate on this Thursday from the three candidates shortlisted earlier.
Molly Irene Samuel-Leport MBE, England born east Londoner, is well known for her sports achievements, including 1987 Jamaican Jubliee Award for Excellence. She is impressive orator.
Molly Samuel is a member of the Conservative Way Forward advisory board along with Harrow councillor Paul Osborn, leader of the Tory opposition group. She is a six time karate world champion, and was the unsuccessful candidate for Walthamstow at the general elections.
She has been active in community matters and is well known for her interest in homelessness and social justice issues.
Molly Samuel believes that schools need to change to include self-defence and self-awareness education for young children of primary age.
George Currie, the “son of working-class parents” who progressed to have a PhD in political philosophy, has helpfully worked with the Brent’s diverse community. He is chair of Brent Central Conservative Association.
Mr Currie’s manifesto is to reduce crime by securing more police officers and working with local communities to introduce ‘safe zones’ across Brent and Harrow.
He would work to improve the availability of affordable housing by working with councils and developers to identify suitable sites and remove unnecessary blockages, and  improve the local environment by working with local residents and businesses to tackle issues, such as poor air quality and the illegal dumping of waste.
Kanwal Toor, self claimed Indian actress associated with luxury jewellery and fashion outlet, seems to have little political profile.
Social media research in her case reveals qualifying comments like “I am proud to know Bob Blackman. Bob has done a huge amount work for Kashmiri Dogras” – Kashmir issue is very sensitive and a matter of grave international concern.  Brent/Harrow could do well without it.
However, she stands a chance where her success could depend on the extent of the support by using certain block votes, the strategy, carried out in Harrow West and brought to Harrow East, that seemingly defeated Cllr Susan Hall at the parliamentary selection in Harrow West and GLA selection for Brent and Harrow.
Last time such a Kashmir specific credit was given to the divisive Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East who has been repeatedly exposed for his alleged interactions with far right elements [i] [ii], was by his previous assistant from Kashmir background  [i] [ii] who has now left Harrow.

Then, and now!

We reported water build-up around a Wealdstone bench, near Baptist Church bus stop, seemingly due to the slop towards the bench or the earth around the bench sinking .IMAG0297_BURST007
This was promptly but temporarily repaired. Pleased to see that this area has now been redone.HW2

Government defeated in disability benefit appeal, credit to Harrow Law Centre!

PamA local councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick (photo), Director Harrow Law Centre and Labour parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, is delighted that a key policy of the Government’s Hostile Environment policy has been declared unlawful in a ruling handed down by the Court of Appeal today.
In April 2013 the Coalition Government introduced a host of regulations as part of its hostile environment policy.  One such amendment the ‘past presence’ test meant that a person with a disability would have to wait two years before being eligible for certain disability benefits notwithstanding that they had genuine links to the UK.
Harrow Law Centre which has long argued that these rules were discriminatory and in breach of EU law, challenged this restriction and the Court of Appeal agreed the Government had acted unlawfully in denying disability benefit.
The law centre  client, 67 years old German national and severely disabled, came to live with her daughter, a British Citizen, in the UK when she was no longer able to care for herself.  She later claimed Attendance Allowance, but it was refused under the new legislation.  As a result, her daughter was also excluded from claiming carers allowance despite being a British Citizen.
This  case was joined with another involving an Irish national represented by Child Poverty Action Group where the British Citizen mother, of a disabled child was refused disability living allowance for her child under the same rule.
In its judgement handed down today the Court of Appeal ruled that both claimants had a genuine and sufficient connection to the UK when they claimed disability benefits and that the approach taken was flawed and unduly inflexible because it failed to take account of all the particular, personal circumstances and motives of the claimants, which in the round, proved the required sufficient link.
Commenting on today’s judgement Solicitor David Martinez of Harrow Law Centre said:
“This judgment makes clear that once again the government’s interpretation of European Union law has been far too restrictive.  This time those suffering from severe disabilities were denied the assistance they so clearly required and were entitled to.  This was despite the strong family links to the UK and the clear intention to settle here that both clients had.  At least for those disabled EU citizens and disabled UK citizens returning or relocating from the EU the decision-making process for those who have carers strongly connected to the UK will now be done within a fundamentally more benign environment.”

 

‘Visit My Mosque’ event well attended but some missing

Well publicised Visit My Mosque event in Harrow last Sunday was widely attended, including by community leaders, clergy and many Labour councillors.
This could only be good for community cohesion and togetherness. However, concerns have been expressed that the event was hardly attended by the Tory councillors.
Given the possibility that Tory councillors might have attended the event at a Harrow mosque but were not noticed, we asked the leader of the Tory opposition group Cllr Paul Osborn to clarify whether he or his councillors attended.
Days have gone but he has not come back, perhaps to save embarrassment.
Although there is no compulsion to attend such events, local Tory position needed clarification in the light of the national outcry* about Islamophobia in the Tory party [1], [2], Harrow East Conservative Association selecting and nurturing divisive elements [1], [2], and no Muslim representation at the Tory councillor level in Harrow.
While there are some Tory councillors who are professional enough to appreciate that they are paid to represent wider population in Harrow, there are many, mostly in Harrow East, who don’t and use their councillor title to promote themselves within their tight community, and therefore give poor value for public money.
*JF

 

Blackman challenged!

Both Labour and Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidates for Harrow East assert that the sitting MP Bob Blackman position is very shaky in this marginal constituency because of his undesirable doings and lack of interest in Harrow matters.bb4
Declining support for him became obvious at the last general election when despite all his divisive moves to attract Indian and Jewish background voters, Mr Blackman majority was slashed from 4,757 in 2015 to 1,757 in 2017 by Labour. His position will be under further threat once the boundary changes take place.
PamLabour parliamentary candidate for Harrow East Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick is determined to unseat Mr Blackman as at the very time local people need more help, Mr Blackman has consistently voted for budget cuts meaning budgets of local authorities has been slashed as well as a huge reduction in funding to  schools, police service and benefit system.
“All this has an impact on the residents of Harrow East. For example, in Harrow diverse community the two-child restriction on benefits and the hostile environment have had a particularly harsh impact” said Cllr Fitzpatrick.
Also “homelessness has soared and the numbers of looked after children is unprecedented. In once a borough with the lowest level of crime in London, now Hate crime has increased and many families are fearful for the safety of their children” she said.
“A housing crisis and the worst level of homelessness in decades are not accidental but because of the benefit cap, universal credit, the restriction of housing benefit to below rent levels, the huge increase in benefit sanctions for people who are seriously ill or have a disability” reminds Cllr Fitzpatrick.
“We are desperately in need of a Labour government that will invest in our schools, provide affordable homes and protect our NHS” Cllr Fitzpatrick said.
adamLiberal Democrats parliamentary candidate Adam Bernard, born and brought up in Edgware, focuses on the appallingly divisive nature of some campaigning in Harrow East.
“I’m proud to live in Harrow, which is lucky to have people from so many cultures. It’s sad to see divisive political campaigning here; pitting Hindus against Muslims against Jews, or people from the EU against people from the Commonwealth” said Mr Bernard.
“A community like ours can only thrive because of its inclusive spirit. I and the Liberal Democrats will always stand against racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, and xenophobia. None of these should have a place in our society or our politics” he said.
A long standing Liberal Democrat, Mr Bernard  works as a researcher teaching computers to read medical research papers and was a Harrow East candidate in 2017 election.

Developments around Harrow Town Centre

Some years back when the previous chief executive Michael Lockwood rejoined the council and accelerated Harrow regeneration programme, the Harrow Monitoring Group suggested study of how Brent attracted the developers and addressed the social housing shortage.
He listened and just in four years the Harrow that struggled to attract investors is now bubbling with developments and impressively progressing towards its housing target. Credit to the council, particularly the regeneration and planning team.
Following is a snap shot of developments around the Harrow Town Centre:

 

Harrow over-75s could lose free TV license

BBC is set to scrape free TV license for over-75s from June 2020 as Tory government has refused to accept the £745million-a-year cost of the benefit to pensioners last Sunday.
Currently, all households with someone aged 75 or over are entitled to a free licence, worth £150.50.over 75b
Harrow has 17,000 over 75 residents according to the Harrow Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2015-20 by Harrow Health and Wellbeing Board (7% of 243,500 residents). Many are living in poverty or just above the poverty line and the TV is vital companionship and entertainment.
Introduced by the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2001, the cost of the free license was initially borne by the government but later the Tories stitched up a deal in 2015 to make the BBC responsible for funding the benefit from June 2020.
Now, Age UK, the National Pensioners Convention and the National Union of Journalists have written a joint letter to BBC chairman.
“The BBC leadership must be brave. It must say ending free licences for the over-75s is wrong-headed and divisive, acknowledge funding this welfare benefit would trigger an end to our public service broadcaster as we know it, and say it must now be down to Government to take back responsibility for this benefit” the letter said.
Perhaps a Harrow council resolution could support the call not to cut this benefit to pensioners.

 

Divisiveness has no place in Harrow!

UPDATED: Local community has worked hard to maintain good relationships amongst the groups of people in Harrow, a most diverse borough. Often Harrow council and police have organised come together events for Harrow communities to show unity against deplorable activities home or abroad that have adverse implications for the community cohesion and relationships locally.
But there are concerns that some, like in Harrow East Tory party, use their elected position to stir up emotions and endanger community relationships by taking sides with international sensitive situations such as the ongoing dispute in Kashmir (India) for self promotion / satisfaction.
Div Tories2
British government and Tory party positions are to let India and Pakistan resolve their internal and external issues, without blaming either side like who is/ is not breeding terrorists. Such a balanced approach makes good sense, particularly at the times of high tension between the two countries as is now.
Div ToriesWhile the two Tories (photo) are responsible for their poor performance, Harrow East Conservative Association has selected and nurtures them.
Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, who has calculated his votes, is well reported for divisiveness  (2) and endorsing far right elements (2) but it is somewhat unfortunate that a Belmont councillor, who is paid to serve her ward residents in council matters, has to follow the MP’s undesirable footsteps.
Tory Cllr Anjana Patel was defeated in West Harrow, rejected by the Cllr Susan Hall dominated Harrow West Conservative Association and given asylum by Harrow East Conservative Association apparently in a show of power to HWCA, particularly the old rival Cllr Hall.  She was then stitched up to Belmont (to tease Cllr Hall?) and therefore her apparent insecurity/ vulnerability seemingly requires the MP’s protection and support (Harrow council could note that Ms Patel tweets as Cllr Anjana Patel).
However, any divisiveness in Harrow is not acceptable and must be challenged!

 

Blackman didn’t know which way his constituency voted on Brexit

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East recycled ongoing wider Brexit chaos by wrongly claiming that Harrow East voted 50/50 for leave or remain.
Mr Blackman claimed this while supporting Brexit on TalkRadio where the presenter Alexis Conran pointed out to him that Harrow East is a Remain constituency.
In the London Borough of Harrow 64,042 voted to Remain (54.6 percent) whilst 53,183 voted to Leave (45.4 percent), and in Harrow East, 52.4 percent voted to Remain and 47.5 percent voted to Leave, according to figures published by Democratic Dashboard.
bb4Mr Blackman in a most marginal seat heavily relies on his divisive approach to attract the Indian and Jewish background voters by taking sides with international disputed matters.
In emotion-raising argument, he argued that Brexit would enable more and better trade opportunities with India and Israel.
His general Brexit theme alerted the hardliners, “Western powers are caught between contrasting policy alternatives in key areas, including their dealings with the Middle East and their visions for the future of Iran and its regional power structure”.
“The election of Donald Trump set the United States on a very different course of foreign policy, thus necessitating that its European partners either follow suit or run a risk of being caught on the wrong side when bilateral relations start to deteriorate further” he continued.

 

‘Ban pupils mobiles in school’!

mobilePupils should be banned from taking smartphones into school, the minister for school standards in England Nick Gibb has told the BBC ahead of the government publishing new guidance for schools.
Another example of the government showing ignorance of school, teaching and interfering in the life of the school.
Schools already have the power to ban phones from being taken on to the premises by pupils and the headteacher determines whether this is appropriate.
Feeling in Harrow is that supervised use of mobile phone, a pocket-sized computer, as a learning tool, has many advantages, since there is a general shortage of school computers, stop clocks, camera equipment and data loggers due to government cuts in school funding.
There is no appreciation by Nick Gibb for the schools imaginative use of pupils mobile phones to minimise the adverse impact of the cuts in the school funding like not having enough computers and equipment for pupils use.
Pupils are encouraged to use their mobile phones at the tutor time to check homework etc, in lessons to take photos of the board if sets of data or notes are needed and in science lessons for video experiments.
It looks that the ministers have no clue how a school actually runs.

 

New contractor for Council fleet services

The fleet services by a new contractor was launched at a ceremony held outside the Harrow civic centre. Go Plant Fleet Services will supply and maintain a wide range of machines, including some zero emission vehicles, and equipment for Harrow Council as part of an initial eight-year contract worth more than £25 million which went live on January 1.
The full service agreement, which includes fleet management services, will also incorporate the authority’s substantial workshop and the TUPE transfer of 10 existing maintenance staff.
Harrow Council has recently approved much needed central depot expansion at a planning committee meeting as the depot is a base for many machines, equipment and envirnomental services.  The opposition group formally declined to vote at the meeting.
Go Plant will provide both full contract hire with maintenance for around 140 brand new assets including compact sweepers, 7.5 and 12-tonne refuse collection vehicles and 60 accessible buses.
The deal also includes grounds maintenance equipment such as tractors, mowers and rollers as well as quad bikes for weed spraying activity. The company will provide a ‘maintenance only’ service for the remainder of the authority’s 350-strong fleet which also features RCVs, road sweepers and various light commercial vehicles.

 

Impingement upon patient rights

Despite the NHS direction not to ban any medicine from being prescribed that can now be purchased without a prescription, the NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has issued instructions to GPs not to prescribe these medicines which the GPs are following.td
The list of medicines to which this guidance applies is here and includes vitamin D, skin creams, nasal sprays (like saline solution for babies and Beconase for adults), lubricant eye drops, haemorrhoid creams, constipation laxatives like Cosmocol, the commonly used painkillers, or dispersible aspirin to keep blood thin.
We have asked Harrow CCG to clarify their action that hits hard vulnerable, elderly, school age children or those on benefits, who are exempted from the prescription charges.
The NHS North West London made the following clear recommendations:
“Ask if they (patents) will buy it. If the patient’s answer is ‘no’ (i.e. the patient is unable or unwilling to purchase the product), or if you are not confident in their ‘yes’, the product should be prescribed.
“The CCGs are not asking any prescriber to have lengthy conversations with patients about this. If the patient says s/he is not willing to buy the medicine, or if the prescriber is not confident in the patient saying that s/he will buy it, the CCGs recommend simply prescribing it.
The NHS NWL letter was very specific, for example under “can the prescriber refer the complaint to his or her CCG?” it said:
If the recommendation above is followed, there should be little cause for a patient to complain. If he or she says that s/he is not willing to buy the medicine, or if the prescriber is not confident in the patient saying that s/he will buy it, the medicine should be prescribed. But yes, prescribers are encouraged to direct people who want to complain about the recommendation to the CCGs’ complaints team.
The Harrow CCG should fully follow NHS North West London recommendations to the prescribers and instruct GPs to do the same.
We have also asked the Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson to intervene as he chairs the Harrow Health and Wellbeing Board which is working in partnership with the Harrow CCG!

 

 

Harrow could lose a cinema and a church!

dsc_2324dAsprea 2 Ltd is preparing to submit a planning application for a residential led mixed-use development on the Safari cinema site, Station Road Harrow, that is partially occupied by much used V2V Community Church.
The cinema is used for Indian film showing and the church has become a hub for the community that hosts non paying breakfasts, lunches for the elderly and hundreds of children on an annual basis to help them become more confident individuals.
The Ilford based company (director Ghulam Alahi ) is proposing circa 80 residential units and around 1,500 sqm commercial and community floorspace.
Community Church is saddened that there is potential to destroy such a monumental site and  are determined to continue fighting on behalf of their congregation and the community of Harrow.
“We urge the community to protest and to petition the council to not allow this monument to be developed into yet another block of apartments” appeals the church spokesperson Danielle Goodman.
The planning application with some adjustments is most likely to be successful as it contributes to Harrow’s housing targets, though the Harrow opposition could come up with objections on the basis of material planning considerations like increased people, traffic movement and road capacity or they could use the Localism Act 2011 where the asset of community value, or ACV, regime allows a number of community rights, including provisions to help communities safeguard buildings serving a purpose to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.
The pre planning application consultation, organised by planning consultants Maddox, includes public consultation event 11am to 8pm at Jasper Centre HA1 2SU on 29.01.2019.

 

Council to increase some fees and charges

Many council charges are set to increase by 5%, including the burial charges, informs a report to the forthcoming Harrow council cabinet meeting.
Also, a new charge is proposed to cover the cost of arrangement fees for customers in care home or own homes who pay for care costs. The charges could be about £100 for setting up a community care package and slightly less than £100 for annual maintenance of a community care package. The council can only arrange traditional services such as homecare support and day care at council run day centres.
Harrow currently charges people with savings over the national threshold of £23,250, on a full cost recovery basis for the services provided but not for the cost to the council of making these arrangements for them.
While there is no increase in many charges, including car parking at the civic centre, on street and off street and the garden waste collection, some charges to increase more than 5% like for the special waste service – between 7% and 17% for collecting particular items. Pest control service increase is 5-7%.
rat-imageCommercial Waste Services are introducing an additional pest control service. This will offer a rat prevention service including a CCTV inspection of drains and insertion of rat barriers in drains – rat flap £165 and CCTV inspection £131.00. This has been developed out of increased requests for a prevention service.
Fees and charges in Harrow generate in the region of £30m per annum and provide significant funding support to the provision of those services that are charged for.

 

Harrow is changing – a mixed picture!

Population: the population increase from under 250k in 2016 to 270k in 2026 and over 283k by 2036 – widespread but the most dramatic increases in Greenhill and Marlborough because of both the highest number of sites and the largest developments in these wards.
Building a Better Harrow strategy: the changes that will occur in Harrow over the next 10 years:

cap3
Health

cap2
All this is before Brexit!!

NHS veiled cuts

Very quietly the NHS in North West London has asked GPs and other prescribers to reduce prescribing of medicines and products (under the pretext of promoting ‘self-care’) that can be purchased without a prescription. (List)
The medicines patients are now advised to obtain over the counter include: vitamin D, skin creams, nasal sprays (like Beconase and saline solution for babies), lubricant eye drops, haemorrhoid creams, constipation laxatives (like Cosmocol), the commonly used painkillers, or dispersible aspirin to keep blood thin. One GP tweeted:
GP tweet
Such a money saving move hits hard vulnerable, elderly, school age children* or those on benefits, who are exempted  from the prescription charges but now have to buy these medicines, some of which are quite expensive. In order to save money, people try online shopping with a risk of buying cheap quality medicines.
*(the school age children are exempted if the product needs to be given at school as many schools will not administer medicines that do not have a dispensing label bearing the child’s name and the dose)
concerns2
They do so seemingly to avoid bad rating by the Care Quality Commission inspection that would monitor the prescribing of these medicines.
Those in Harrow who need medical care not only suffer because of the cuts in medicine  but also because of a clinician decision whether a patient meets the evidence-based thresholds for the hospital treatment as defined in the Planned Procedure with a limited Threshold (PPwT) policy and which requires funding approval from the authority running a deficit budget.
There are thirty three  procedures covered under PPwT policy, including cataract surgery, grommets in children, hip replacement, correcting a deformity of the nasal septum and open MRI, for which individual funding request has to be made to the NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) where  the  treatment falls under the ‘not normally funded’ category.
We understand Harrow CCG has declined many such requests.

 

 

TV license scam!

Some in Harrow have received scam TV Licensing refund or payment issue emails in just a matter of days.
Somewhat convincing fake emails are being sent by scammers in a bid to steal bank account and personal details.
The emails claim that TV Licensing have been trying to get hold of the victim regarding a refund for an over-payment or that a refund is owed or that the TV License could not be automatically renewed.
The fraudsters include links to convincing-looking cloned TV Licensing websites designed to harvest bank account and credit card details.
Closer examination of the license information in the scam email shows that the TV license number or other details are incorrect – like the example below:
TV