Sep 24 2013

Council Leader Susan Hall – First Seven Days

susan_hall_leaderAfter my extremely busy first day as Leader of the Council last Tuesday – the blog of which iharrow.com kindly duplicated – I can assure Harrow residents that the pace of things has not died down.

My election on the Monday was such a surprise that I already had various prior engagement organised for Wednesday, so I did a substantial amount of work remotely that day – sending literally hundreds of e-mails and spending much of my time on the phone back to the Council. I then had an early night, because on Thursday morning I was at the Council’s depot at 6am. This is where the majority of our public realm staff – our refuse collectors, street cleaners and park maintenance workers – are based, and I wanted to catch them all just before they started their shifts. We know that residents value the work these staff do almost beyond any other, and I wanted to tell them how much the new Conservative administration supports them. When I was previously portfolio holder I had regular early-morning meetings at the depot, and I hope to continue these once again.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]On Thursday morning I was at the Council’s depot at 6am…[/pullquote]After various meetings with staff at the depot – including one about my plans to revitalise Neighbourhood Champions – I headed back to the Civic Centre to a meeting of Safer Harrow – a body which helps the police, the Council and other partners work together to help make Harrow a safer place to live and work. I shall in future be chairing these meetings. I am determined that the Council supports Harrow’s borough commander Simon Ovens in his goal to make our borough become the safest in London. Following this I had various issues to go over with my Group office staff, before calling the various councillors I had decided to put on Cabinet to let them know. I then had my final meeting of the day – with members of a Stanmore traders’ association.

Friday morning began with a meeting the new Head of Communications, discussing how to get across our plans for a cleaner, safer and fairer Harrow. I then confirmed the members of Cabinet with senior officers, with the list being released later that day. This was followed by meetings with Finance portfolio holder Cllr. Tony Ferrari and Planning portfolio holder Cllr. Stephen Greek; to discuss both the finances and various plans for their departments. After this, I spent most of the afternoon changing around various committee memberships – made necessary because Cabinet members can’t sit on the committees which scrutinise their decisions.

I then headed home for – rather strangely – an hour’s nap. Because come 10pm I was up and out all night and into the morning with the Council’s incredible licensing officer Shankar and the most popular and dedicated Sgt. Whelan along with many other Harrow Police Officers . We carried out spot inspections of various pubs in Wealdstone – many of which I has never visited before, and was hugely impressed by – to check they were complying with their licensing regulations. I won’t bore your readers with the rest of my weekend, but I can assure you Council business doesn’t just grind to a halt – there are always papers to read and e-mails to send.

My first Monday as Leader was just as packed as the week before; starting with a meeting with Community and Culture portfolio holder Cllr. Manji Kara. This was then followed with briefings about the Harrow Partnership Board later that evening, as well as council tax benefit with senior finance officers. I then went through the papers relating to my Community Safety and Environment portfolio that would likely be going to October’s Cabinet meeting – with the corporate director of Environment Services.

After this the Cabinet and I had our first meeting together – nothing formal or involving decisions; just setting out various ideas we had, discussing pressing issues, and allowing me to update them all at once. After having a photograph all taken together, I then dashed off to chair the Harrow Partnership Board meeting. I’m told this meeting will go down in history for its brevity – a mere 15 minutes. That might be something to do with the fact that we abolished the Board itself at the meeting, as everyone at the Council thinks there are better and cheaper ways to work more closely with our partners.

Now I’m into my second week as Leader, and my list of commitments and responsibilities continues to grow. Over the next few weeks and months we will be revealing more of our plans to deliver a cleaner, safer and fairer Harrow, and I will be keeping residents updated every step of the way.

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  1. j p hobbs

    When I mentioned the filth in Stanmore Broadway I was not knocking the Council so much as the people who make it that way , it will be an enormous task changing it , often when I am walking behind groups of youngsters from Elm Park College they walk along about four or five abreast and don’t seem to be aware that when they have finished eating as walking they just scrunch the packaging open the hand and let it fall , perhaps this could be part of the curriculum next year ? . I am sure Cllr Hall will look into this as she is one of the few that really does care about our environment and follows up what she says . cheers not grumpy today , YET .

  2. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    ILG were working on introducing on the spot fines but we didn’t get the chance to follow that through.

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