Category Archives: News

Blackman slapped by Shahs and not on May’s list of recognition

bb10Harrow East MP Bob Blackman apparently failed to convince Theresa May to offer him housing minister job despite his flattering praises for her policies.
One telling example is his blind retweets of the Number 10 government  propaganda that all is well in NHS while leading medical professionals are warning that Patients ‘dying in hospital corridors’
Mr Blackman might feel that because he owns six buy-to-let properties in Welwyn Garden City and because he moved the Homelessness Reduction Bill, he is over qualified for the housing job that comes with an opportunity to work closely with very rich property developers and housing associations.
“This man either knows nothing about the attack on our sector or he must be thinking about the Institutional Investor to house the Homeless – S24 will not help the homeless it will make it worse” is a knowledgeable response to Mr Blackman’s headline grabbing homelessness rhetoric.
Not only this but Theresa May might also be aware that Mr Blackman is not in step with the key government foreign policies specific to Asia and Middle East, and how his divisive politics has been rigorously challenged.
Following nationally known Harrow council resolution condemning Mr Blackman, for inviting an Indian extremist to an event at the UK Parliament, most probably facilitated by his equally divisive assistant, local community leaders have spoken out.
Councillor Sachin Shah had said, “One of the things makes me proud to be the leader of Harrow council is our good community cohesion. People of different faith live side by side with no problems. Bob Blackman should be ashamed that he brought someone to Parliament who wants to divide Harrow’s communities”.
The assembly member for Brent and Harrow Navin Shah said, “Mr Blackman’s feeble attempt to escape just criticism is pathetic.  He has blown his opportunity to explain how he managed to give a platform to the hate preacher Tapan Ghosh”.
“To make matters worse he has not even had the decency to apologise for bringing Parliament’s and Harrow’s reputation into disrepute. He has been allowed long enough to conduct his divisive and sectarian practices in Harrow. Mr Blackman is no friend of our diverse communities in Harrow” Navin Shah added.
“Never before Harrow had an MP who is so bitter and divisive and freely mixes with far right elements for votes. It is about time Harrow East Tories should respect Harrow cohesion and stop selecting divisive characters to attract voters from a few communities ” said Dr Pravin Shah, coordinator Harrow Monitoring Group.
Mr Blackman just survived at the last general election!

 

Harrow CAN-CAN wins 2nd place at New Year’s Day parade

Harrow’s entry at London’s New Year’s Day Parade hit an all-time high on Monday, with their Moulin Rouge-inspired float winning second place and a whopping £9000 for the Mayor’s charities.
The thousands of pounds will now be handed to the Mayor’s charities – Harrow Women Centre and Harrow Law Centre.
“Winning second place is a fantastic achievement but what’s even better is that the money will really help change lives. Well done everyone – Harrow has made me proud” said Harrow mayor Cllr Margaret Davine.
Those taking part in the parade included the talented Beverley School of Dance, the Kodak Football Club, and Cllrs John Hinkley and Jean Lammiman who have worked so hard in preparing and organising this year’s entry.

 

Interim Harrow council chief appointed

Tom Whiting2As we predicted weeks ago, Tom Whiting has been appointed as the interim chief executive (head of paid service) for the period from 6 January 2018 to 24 May 2018, after which the then elected administration could appoint the substantial chief executive.
The post has resulted since the Harrow Council chief executive Michael Lockwood has been appointed as the first director general of the new Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Mr Whiting, Oxford educated and previous strategy consultant, has been with the Harrow council for more than 12 years.  He joined the Harrow council as divisional director strategy & improvement in 2005, progressed to assistant chief executive in 2008 and then to the corporate director of resources from 2013 to now.
Harrow’s population is growing and will continue to grow and the demographic of residents is changing. Households are getting smaller, life expectancy is anticipated to increase, and technological advances are changing the way people live and work.
Although Harrow enjoys relatively low levels of multiple deprivation, Harrow’s position compared to other local authorities has deteriorated over the years and two of the Borough’s wards contain areas in England’s 20% most deprived.
The government’s  harsh social welfare policies, austerity measures and housing supply and affordability have biting effects on Harrow.
Harrow has highly diverse population which rigorously requires to treat different groups of people equally well.
Therefore, improving the quality of life for all Harrow’s residents, whilst at the same time accommodating Harrow’s changing profile, is a key challenge for Mr Whiting.

 

Harrow’s ‘Night Riders’!

HNRThey work through the night and into the very early hours of the morning, five days a week, removing filthy fly-tips off the streets.  This can only be good!
The two man team works in the dark to clear illegally dumped waste reported to the council. Between 80 to 100 fly-tips reported to the council each day – they get anything from fridges, sofas and chairs to building material, and unwanted clothes dumped and strewn on the streets.
On average they get around 50 reports a night to clear, covering the entire borough. And they don’t stop there, – they keep their eyes peeled for any fly-tips not on the list no matter how big or small they are.
Random flytipping, recently a big problem in Harrow, is very difficult to eradicate. In the last year it costs the council £438,976 to clear up fly-tips.
Council says that the service hasn’t gone unnoticed by the residents who witness the night cleaning and appreciate accordingly.
“It’s great to see how much they appreciate this service – they come out of their homes or shout out their windows to say thanks to the crew in the middle of night. It’s not an easy job, but our night riders do it with dedication and our environmental services” said councillor Graham Henson, cabinet member for environmental services.

Not easy to shake-off Hall legacy

Legacy of arrogance and bins
Council works more smoothly where the opposition works as a critical friend, assisting the administration whenever possible and suggesting healthy alternatives whenever necessary, all in the interest of effectively serving the residents.
But what happened in Harrow under the previous opposition leader Cllr Hall, was a kind of ‘punch and judy’ attitude by her and her deputy at the Council meetings or the cabinet question times,  symbolised by wasting council time,  cheap personal attacks, Bin point scoring and so on.
Cllr Barry Macleod-Cullinane is still deputy leader of the opposition Tory group.
The group seems to have calmed down under Cllr Paul Osborn leadership. Meeting atmosphere has improved and undue pressure on officer time has eased – for example, Tory questions at a cabinet meeting have now been 10 compared with up to 72 previously  (such a high volume of questions in a 15 minutes slot at the meetings was absurd and served no purpose other than point scoring at the meetings).
However, while the culture of the Tory group is changing,  there are examples of arrogance and pettiness which need to be addressed:
As a norm, leader of the council is addressed as ‘leader’ by the councillors asking questions at the meetings chaired by the leader, and the leader calls the councillors by their first name, giving a sense of being colleagues.
In the cabinet meeting on 16 November 2017, the good atmosphere of the meeting was somewhat spoiled as the deputy leader of the Tory group arrogantly asked  not to shorten his name when  the council leader Cllr Sachin Shah called him by his first name for the question (13.20 on the timeline), and then Cllr Macleod-Cullinane  addressed the leader as Cllr Shah – later on (16.00) Cllr Macleod-Cullinane  called out, causing disruptions – typical Cllr Hall type unnecessary confrontation!
Similarly bins remain a subject at the councillor question time despite the fact that there are extensive officer reports regarding the bins and the bin collection arrangements!
Another example of unpleasantness at the meetings was lowering the level of debate by some Tory councillors and making irrelevant references at the last council meeting, in opposing the council motion that condemned Harrow East MP Bob Blackman for hosting an Indian extremist in an event at the Parliament. The motion was passed.

Homelessness Reduction Act to hit Labour-run councils hard, including Harrow

homelessMuch publicised Tory Homelessness Reduction Act, instigated by Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, comes nowhere near addressing the wider factors that are increasing homelessness, such as the lack of affordable housing for low income households and welfare reforms.
What the Act demands the councils to do is very difficult for them to deliver :  for example, virtually all (94%) London boroughs, report that helping homeless people to find a self-contained private rental is “very difficult” because of the combined effects of rising rents and welfare benefit restrictions, particularly frozen Local Housing Allowance rates. What the councils can’t deliver could be politically used against them at the council elections next year.
The Homelessness Reduction Act is creating false expectations and introducing massive extra bureaucracy into the work we already do to assist homeless households, while not creating any extra accommodation” said the Harrow head of housing needs Jon Dalton.
Similarly, building more homes won’t solve the housing crisis because the supply can’t meet much increased demand created by the government’s hard hitting socio-economic and welfare policies.
All this puts Labour-run councils, including Harrow, under far more pressure because of the deprivation factor and harsh welfare reforms, resulting in more challenging housing situations.
We are building the first new council homes in a generation and looking to purchase private properties to rent; neither of these options will meet the current demand for housing” says the Harrow council.
Access to housing remains a particular problem for homeless people because the welfare reform has been making both private landlords and housing associations more risk averse with regard to letting to households in receipt of benefits.
Homelessness pressures are mounting because of the increasing gap between actual rents and housing benefit (due to welfare reform)” points out Jon Dalton.
Harrow accepted 292 homeless cases so far this year compared with 388 last year. There are 329 homeless in temporary accommodation in borough and 47 outside borough – leading groups in the accommodations are white, followed by Asians and Black Africans.
Total on waiting list for council accommodation at 07/12/17 is 1995 – average waiting time for being re-housed in permanent accommodation varies:
Basic CMYK

Harrow MP on US President’s ‘recklessness’

Gareth dThose in Harrow who believe in social justice and truth are not short of actions in confronting oppressive and divisive situations.
Very recently Harrow council condemned Harrow East MP Bob Blackman (Con) for hosting an Indian extremist at an event in the Parliament which was most probably helped by his equally divisive assistant, a Tory candidate for the Queensbury ward.
Now while Mr Blackman has calculated his votes and is silent, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas (Lab) has spoken out on the conflicts caused by aggressive and divisive Middle East politics.
“I believe we all have a shared duty to look towards the future and to the next generation of young people growing up in Israel and Palestine today” says Mr Thomas, and is concerned that at present, that generation knows nothing but division and violence.
He remains concerned by announcements this year of new settlement units in the West Bank which he points out “are illegal and further undermine the prospect of a two-state solution to this conflict”.
“I also continue to be concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing” he said.
Regarding the protection of children in Israeli military detention, he believes “the Government must go further in encouraging Israel to do far more to implement the recommendations that have been made on this issue as soon as possible”.
He assures his commitment for pressing for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a viable state of Palestine.
“Both sides must avoid actions that would make peace harder to achieve. That must mean an end to the blockade, occupation and settlement construction, and an end to terror attacks” he said.
He believes it is essential that the Government continues to support dialogue and fully backs all initiatives aimed at keeping the two-state solution alive.
This is particularly important given the US President’s reckless decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” he said.