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Sep 12 2013

Another U-Turn by Harrow Council on Park Gate Locking

harrow_council_logoYou couldn’t make it up if you tried.

Firstly, we had the whole charade over the removal of dog poo bins from parks, and then, once the sounds of the uproar from Harrow residents reached the Civic Centre, that was rapidly U-turned (or ‘reviewed’ depending on your point of view).

Then today we have exactly the same pantomime over park gates being left unlocked overnight, attracting drug dealers, alcoholics, couples ‘coupling’, littering, vandalism and all kinds of other anti-social behaviour. With a Council that has no clue on whether residents actually wanted their parks left unlocked, it wasn’t long before another tsunami of noise descended on the Civic Centre – indeed, only tonight, there was a demonstration outside from a group which clearly hadn’t got the press release in time.

Harrow Council dress this up as ‘listening’ to residents. Looks like they only listen when they want to, but boy, does it make convincing reading if you read the press release:

Harrow Council has decided to review its decision to stop locking some of the gates to the borough’s parks and open spaces.

The Council is having to take tough choices in order to make £24m of savings over the next two years and the decision not lock the 29 gates was made as part of its budget setting process. Although the Council consulted residents about the decision, many more people have come forward in recent weeks with concerns around antisocial behaviour.

As a result, the council has reviewed the decision and will keep the current status quo where 30% of Harrow’s parks and open spaces are locked at night. Harrow Council Portfolio Holder for Environment & Community Safety, Cllr Asad Omar said: “This is yet again a clear example of the current administration listening to the people of Harrow. Lots of people have come forward since our original consultation and, in taking these views on board, we have decided not to progress with this proposal. Further to my decision to reverse the removal of dog waste bins by the previous administration, this proves that people’s views are heard in this administration.”

He continued: “The significant pressures on local authority budgets mean that difficult decisions have to be made in order to cut our cloth. Residents should be assured that we will always take their views into account with these decisions. This is an example of how we are doing just that.”

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Susan Hall, said: “There’s no doubt this is the right decision; what’s so disgraceful is the process Harrow residents have had to endure to get here. Labour hid this cut away in their budget, and it was only after the Conservatives started asking questions in February that the detail behind it was revealed. Independent Labour then picked it up, insisting leaving parks and cemeteries unlocked was the right thing to do – indeed, Cllr. Idaikkadar called it a ‘common-sense’ decision just last week.”

Parks and Public Realm are clearly just one things that Cllr Hall is passionate about, She continued: “Thousands of committed residents, as well myself, have been complaining about this for months – raising legitimate concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour. That the administration has, in the end, performed this u-turn is not actually an exercise in listening as they claim, but rather a desperate act to avoid further bad press.”

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