Category Archives: News

Harrow Council new chief executive

Sean HarrissHarrow Council has announced that Sean Harriss (photo), former Bolton and Lambeth CEO, is being recommended for appointment as the council’s new chief executive.
Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council who led the councillor panel for appointment, said: “Sean was the panel’s agreed choice from an extremely accomplished field of candidates. We were impressed by Sean’s leadership experience in a wide variety of local government contexts and by his track record of delivering outstanding public services. We are certain he will do an excellent job here.”
Sean Harriss said: “I am truly delighted and honoured to be recommended as Harrow’s new Chief Executive. My first impressions are that Harrow has a lot going for it. It has a strong community spirit, and it’s a diverse, prosperous and high-achieving borough, where people want to get on. I want to help make that a possibility for everyone who calls Harrow home, and I very much look forward to the challenges ahead.”
Sean Harriss was brought up in Lincolnshire and studied politics at university in Nottingham. In 2007 he became chief executive of Bolton Council. In 2014 Sean was instrumental in securing devolution for the Greater Manchester region. The following year, he joined London Borough of Lambeth, a very interesting place! He’s currently CEO of the London shared service oneSource.
The new chief executive is set to take up his post on 4 February. He will take over from Tom Whiting, very able interim chief executive since Michael Lockwood left the council at the end of 2017 to become the first director general of the new Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Tom will be leaving Harrow Council after 14 years to join the IOPC as deputy director general.


New Town Centre Library

DSC_2261dA new Town Centre Library is all set to be opened at the multiuse 20 storeys development on the site of the Harrow post office at 51 College Road Harrow.
The library will be located on the ground and mezzanine levels of Block B of the development at the Harrow Square with private residential apartments above. The shell and core of the library is due to be handed over to the Harrow Council in April 2019 on a 999 year lease at a peppercorn rent.
The new library will be Harrow’s central hub for knowledge, reading, learning, and research, located right in the heart of Harrow Town Centre.
The library will include a garden for relaxation, and a pavilion where space could be hired for family and adult learning, skills development, work and meetings.
Harrow Town Centre is undergoing enormous population growth by 40% and the library will be a vital part of the leisure and cultural infrastructure.
Additional funding is being sought above the total budget of £1.8m currently allocated for the project to accommodate the move of the library to the new site from the current Gayton Library which was  moved from Gayton Road to its current location at Garden House St John’s Road, in January 2008.
The forthcoming Harrow council cabinet meeting has been recommended to approve the library move arrangements.
We hope that the historical name ‘Gayton Library’ would be retained!


Blackman fortune could run out

Research by ’38 degrees’ campaign group suggests that Harrow East MP Bob Blackman could lose his highly marginal seat over universal credit.
bb4Mr Blackman whose majority was badly slashed by Labour at the last general election, seems to be more interested in playing his divisive politics to secure votes from the Hindu and Jewish background voters by taking side with conflicting international/ sectarian issues and pleasing far right rather than focusing on social welfare matters like universal credit which could hit hard more than 7,000 constituents in Harrow East.
“I support the policy that is universal credit and its reformist core: replacing six complex benefits with a single unified system,” he said.
Universal credit will replace six current benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance and working tax credit.
The benefit freeze takes £1.5bn from 10 million low and middle-income households. A low income couple with children will be £200 worse off. For them there is no end to austerity.
Added to this, there is still another £5bn of cuts to social security to come in this parliament, hitting the incomes of those who are already badly slapped.
Universal credit has the potential to be “catastrophic” and lead to a spiral of debt for claimants unless major flaws are addressed, according to a new report by two councils – Southwark and Croydon – among the first in the country to roll out the new regime.
The damning report claims that after 20 weeks of transferring from the legacy benefit system to universal credit the average claimant had £156 of arrears.
In Southwark alone, where 12 per cent of council tenants have moved onto universal credit, rent arrears total over £5.3m.


Autumn Nights crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour

Police in Harrow, Brent and Barnet have launched Operation Autumn Nights in a bid to hand out safety advice and crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour around Halloween and before Bonfire night begins this year.
The Met’s annual Autumn Nights campaign is supported by everyday policing activities and includes the Neighbourhood Policing Teams engaging in more weapon sweeps in hotspots across the borough and taking more action against anti-social behaviour crime.
In 2017, the weekly average number of anti-social behaviour-related calls across the Met was 4,890. The number of these calls to police increased between Halloween and Bonfire Night, with 5,187 calls between 24 and 30 October 2017, and 6,991 calls between 31 October and 6 November 2017.
In Harrow, Autumn Nights will be supported by Safer Neighbourhood policing teams, youth engagement officers and volunteer police cadets.
Inspector Tanya Sprunks (photo), in charge of Harrow neighbourhoods, said “The police, Harrow Council and our partner agencies want to promote safe enjoyment of these seasonal celebrations.Inspector_Tanya_Sprunks
“Anti-social behaviour does increase at this time of the year and there have also been incidents of criminals using the darker nights to commit crimes such as burglary, theft and knife-related offences”.
During the Autumn Nights campaign – which will run in Harrow over Christmas and into the New Year, Safer Neighbourhood officers will carry out additional patrols and visit vulnerable residents to offer crime prevention advice and reassure them.
Councillor Krishna Suresh, crime and community safety member for Harrow Council said “The Council wants to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time during these festivities. Most young people behave sensibly and have fun. Anti-social behaviour ruins what could otherwise be a great night out, and it has damaging impacts on the community”.
Odd that the Tory community safety shadow Cllr Anjana Patel seems to be more engaged with certain ‘cultural’ activities rather than showing interest in safety/policing matters!!
Crime and police numbers in Harrow have been matters of concern


Would Harrow West Tories return donations by a now convicted fraudster?

The Mail reports  Freddy David, sentenced for six years for obtaining money by deception, gave £2,000 to the struggling Harrow West Conservative Party in 2013.
His HBFS Financial Services Ltd also provided staffing support valued at £2,000, and administration services worth £4,000 to the party.
Between 2013 and 2015, his business handed over £9,685 in cash to the party as wife stood to be an MP.
Although there is no suggestion the donations to the party were linked to illegal activity, it would be morally correct for Harrow West Conservatives  to return the donations to contribute towards more than £13 million owed to his wounded up company investors.
Freddy David used his good reputation within his Jewish community to sell non-existent investment products to his clients within the community.
The fraud had been exacerbated by the fact that 55 investors were defrauded for over a period of ten years.
Freddy David held 75 per cent of the company while his wife, Hannah David, Tory parliamentary candidate for Harrow West in 2015 and 2017, owned 25 per cent of the company.
She was also associated with the restaurant called Let’s Meat, created by Freddy David from the money taken from a victim.
She is listed as a director of the Conservative Party Policy Forum (her term ends this month) – which claims to have ‘a direct line to the Prime Minister’s policy unit’.
Sad state of politics!


Harrow community activist honoured

asifAsif Iqbal MBE, president of Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club, is on the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List, an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.
His place was announced at a recent Shaw Trust reception held at the South Bank Centre.
The Disability Power 100 List is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash OBE, leading authority in ‘Networkology’ – the science behind the growth of workplace networks and resource groups.
Delighted with the honour, Mr Iqbal said, “It took me by surprise, I couldn’t believe it. I am honoured to be recognised for my public services. It has always been my belief and value to support and empower others, enabling them to have a voice in accessing to services and influencing the decision makers. Being Deaf, I have overcome several barriers in my life journey, I have greater empathy and encourage others to work together for better changes and achieve their full potential.”
Asif Iqbal, born deaf, has been extensively working with local and central government as well as with a number of community organisations to increase representation of and remove barriers for deaf and disabled people.
Nick Bell, interim chief executive of Shaw Trust, a charity helping to transform the lives of young people and adults across the UK and internationally, said, “Congratulations to Asif Iqbal. The judges were beyond impressed by the standard of nominations but selected the most influential people who are proving that disability or impairment is not a barrier to success”.
“One of our aims for the Disability Power 100 list is to demonstrate to young people that they can achieve their ambitions. At Shaw Trust we work with government, local authorities and employers to support people overcome barriers which hold them back from achieving their potential” Mr Bell added.


Ashton in Hall’s foot-steps!

Tory councillor Marilyn Ashton, deputy leader of the Harrow council opposition group, follows the point-scoring tactics at the meetings practised by her long term archrival Cllr Susan Hall, previous leader of the Tory group and her time-wasting deputy (he was defeated at the last council election).
Cllr Ashton grumbles that all sixteen questions by her group at the last cabinet meeting were not answered, despite the leader of the council chairing the meeting explained that it was not possible to answer all questions within the time allotted for councillors questions (normally 15 minute but extended to 38 minutes in this case).
Under the council practice, questions forwarded by the councillors at the cabinet meeting if not answered at the meeting, are replied in writing. But then this does not help point-scoring in public.
Perhaps the Tory group discipline under Cllr Paul Osborn leadership is not as bad as it was under Cllr Hall where council time was wasted through petty tactics.
The Harrow Times reported on 14 Oct 2016, “Cllr Hall continued to ask questions, despite being told her allocated time was up. She held up a megaphone created from a blue piece of paper, which she had made before the meeting”.
At the cabinet meeting on 27 April 2017, Cllr Hall asked, “Why have you failed to answer 88 of our questions from the Cabinet meeting on 16th February” and she along with a few  of her councillors asked further 72 questions at the meeting.
In another point-scoring statement, Cllr Ashton said that she left the meeting after councillor questions and everyone else came out about ten minutes afterwards. As a seasoned councillor, Marilyn Ashton should know that the question time is a key attraction for the public and opposition who usually leave the meeting when the question session is over.