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Jun 16 2014

Dave’s Blog – Harrow Council Leader Writes… – June 13, 2014

david_perry_leaders_blogLast night, at our annual full meeting, I accepted the honour and privilege of leading Harrow Council. I’d like to use this, my first blog as leader, to introduce myself and tell you what my administration stands for.

For council staff, I know this has been a turbulent and uncertain period with changes in both administration and management. It is a tribute to our hardworking staff that the council was able to carry on delivering vital service for residents. To cite one particular example, the staff in the Mayor’s office navigated the choppy waters of last year with calm professionalism, allowing the first citizen of Harrow to carry out her Mayoral duties in the non-political way they should be conducted. For demonstrating such grace under pressure, thank you.

I believe our employees are the lifeblood of the organisation. They have the skills and expertise that help us, the members, form our decisions. I want to consult as many of them as possible in how we transform this borough.

So what does the new administration plan to do? In summary, we plan to make a difference to people in four key areas: families; communities; the vulnerable and business.

Over the coming days we will be announcing more detail in all of these four key areas. But it is important to stress that the manifesto pledges we were elected on have all come from what we were told on the doorsteps of Harrow, alongside meetings involving women’s groups, community organisations, the voluntary sector, trade unions and residents.

Whether it is building affordable homes, pledging £1m to tackle domestic violence and support carers or embarking on a programme of estate regeneration, our pledges reflect the needs of local residents.

Partnership with the community will lie at the heart of everything this administration does – from helping us to run services to taking up brushes and brooms to clean the borough together. (This last point was illustrated by our recent community clean-up day where local people worked with us to clear up a rubbish-strewn alleyway).

With a new stable administration in place, I profoundly hope the era of splits and factions has passed. It is time to return our activities to what matters – making a positive difference to people’s lives and empowering them to be a part of communities and homes they are proud to call their own.

We will of course be investing money in our key priorities. However, there is also a difficult reality to face that Harrow Council will need to save more than £70m over the next four years. There is no avoiding the fact that making these cuts will be challenging and extremely difficult decisions will have to be made. We will work with staff every step of the way to protect frontline services; we always value the input of staff and will do all we can to ensure staff feel able to approach us and discuss their ideas or concerns.

To meet these challenges, we are going to govern in a new way, one where the administration works by consultation with staff, local people and the voluntary sector at all times. The town hall does not have all the right answers, and as a council we no longer have the chequebook to pay for all of the things we’d like to do for residents.

In the meantime, I plan to use this blog as the start of an on-going conversation with you. It is with your help that we will make a difference to Harrow.

Source: Harrow Council

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21 comments

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  1. AN OLD ENGLISHMAN

    new council new broom. seems you have not mentioned the No 1 topic IMMIGRATION
    visit the harrow schools that are overflowing. with pupils and trying to cope with 45 languages
    and large pupil classes or is the answer to keep building schools . wait for your reply

    1. Bill Phillips

      As a school governor and frequent visitor to some of Harrow’s schools can I say that you are wrong.

      Like many London Boroughs, Harrow’s schools perform well above the rest of the country. This is driven by the intelligent and energetic people that have settled in London from other parts of the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Rather than hold back our young people, they are now our young people and are the leaders of the pack. Harrow has a very low % of NEETs and a very high % of entrepreneurs compared with the rest of the country. Long may it remain so.

      The increased numbers in Harrow schools are largely driven by an increased births and is being dealt with by a very large school building program. Some is immigration driven and certainly in the two Harrow schools that I know well is being dealt with effectively.

      I am comfortable with my new status as one of the newest minority groups in Harrow (white English – we were the majority) I celebrate the diversity of Harrow and rather than want to send everyone away I campaign to get the resources from government to provide the infrastructure and services that we all need.

      1. Honest & Open

        So how come Aylward primary last year and Weald Junior very recently went into special measures. Paul Boakes why was there not a story on the disgraceful way the Council school and governors kept the parents in the dark over this? How is it that Ofsted reports may give a Harrow school outstanding but will show only a 3 which is satisfactory on attainment levels? Surely a school that only has 3 for attainment is not as good a school as one would think? Was it not under the Labour administration that figures were submitted wrongly for extra money for school expansion, only for Bob Blackman to come to the rescue and turn it around from Zero allocation? How can we perform well above the rest of the country when we have the largest percentage of children in a class than anywhere else In the UK?

  2. six of white three of red

    don’t expect any sort of cogent logical response from these jokers at best you will be labeled a racist you know the ad hominen argument.

  3. PraxisReform

    Biggest load of tosh I ever read… We’re back with a bunch of politicians that are solely interested in kow-towing to the demands of trade unions (not that I can say much better of the other lots we’ve had inflicted on us over the past couple of years).

    After all this time, Harrow is still a mess of decrepit closed down shops/offices, that do nothing but attract crime or deter new shops/businesses starting and stop investment in the area.

    Worse still, I see these clowns have just put F*ckwit Ferry back in charge of development in Harrow!

    Clearly Cllr. Perry is hoping that I’ll be keeping him in office supplies for the next few years.

  4. six of white three of red

    and so it goes on and will until people wake up and realize that nothing is ever going to change unless we make these idiots truly responsible for there actions but most people just want to watch football and eastenders arses have to part from sofas people COME ON WAKE THE F**K UP OR SHUT UP.

  5. Steve Wright

    What a load of sanctimonious tosh David! You alone were responsible for the split in the Labour Party last year by challenging the then Council Leader Clr. Idaikkadar after only 5 months in office, even though the Chairman of your party, Clr. Stoodley warned you your actions would spit the Party. You went ahead anyway and rued the consequences. And now you think Labour are the answer to all our prayers? Get real!

    What’s all this about going out and asking officers, residents and uncle Tom Cobley what they think. Did’nt Labour do just that after the last election – it was called “Lets Talk” and for two years you had officers moving a whole lounge of settees, chairs and carpets around the Borough to meet people most of whom were shoppers – hardly a cross-section of the residents!!. That approach was a total waste of money then with far better and cheaper ways of gathering public opinions. I doubt if opinions will have changed much since then but I suppose waiting for your own consultation results to come in is a good way of delaying doing anything positive until you have some decent policies to implement.

    1. Bill Phillips

      Goodness Steve, this is the second rant I’ve read of yours recently! What has happened to the quiet thoughtful, reflective, mild mannered, “Clark Kent” like Steve Wright that I used to work with on the council? Methinks that you must have been rushing into too many telephone booths and turned into “SuperRight” 🙂

  6. Concerned Harrovian

    When are the council meetings going to be recorded and put on the web?. Ricky123 has volunteered to do this and Paul Boakes has raised the matter with David Perry who said he would think about it. The electorate could watch the meetings at a time convenient to them.

    David Perry has not answered residents on this matter. Residents want to see their councillors in action or non action as the case may be. In the interests of transparency, I think this should be done unless of course the councillors want privacy to carry on ruining our borough.

    Residents do not want spin, secret handshakes and nods and winks behind the scenes as councillors plot and plan. on how to spend council tax. Would any councillors, or ex councillors, give their views on how they feel about being filmed? Of course those that are reluctant to be filmed would raise the suspicions of the electorate.

    COUNCILLORS COULD WE HAVE YOUR VIEWS ON THIS SUBJECT PLEASE?

    1. Someonewhocares

      This ‘video recording’ has already been done this year of course, for instance c/o Barnet Bugle, as here –

      http://checkoutthelatest.com/barnetbugle&watch=g1j9JeATk7Y

      – or just check out some of the youtube entries – under ‘Harrow Council’ obviously

  7. Susan Hall

    Concerned Harrovian, we made it clear at all times that we were perfectly happy to be transparent and have everything filmed, recorded-whatever. Its a shame that the Constitutional working group was not recorded so that the public could see how Harrow;’s Labour Councillors have gone back on their word. Labour are not interested in either transparency or challenge which is why we are not on the Cabinet as non voting members – its a disgrace.

  8. Concerned Harrovian

    Susan

    Thank you for taking time to respond to my request. I hope other councillors, ex councillors will be brave enough to voice their opinions. Videoing meetings would show the electorate what happens at the meetings and we could therefore make a more informed decision at election time.

    If councillors are shrinking violets and too coy to be filmed, I wonder why they have been voted in. I like to remember the words of Oliver Cromwell to portrait painter Peter Lely when he requests that he is not flattered. “paint me warts and all.” It is your words and actions residents are interested in and not your physical persona so do not be shy.

    Doubtless with the eyes of Harrow residents upon there civility will break out in the Council Chamber! After all good manners cost nothing and are not included in the budget cuts.

  9. sonoo malkani

    Since the above article clearly states that the new style of working will mean open dialogue including Council employees,the voluntary sector,the business community,families and communities,members of our public and many more in order—- to reach meaningful outcomes for our citizens,–I see no reason whatsoever why the Council meetings could not be recorded and posted on the web.A picture is worth a thousand words!You have volunteers already so it’s worth considering seriously.

    The period of turbulence has lasted too long and has left many of us feeling totally traumatised.It will be a huge task re-building the shattered confidence of ordinary citizens and win back their confidence ,after the betrayal they have experienced,from so many quarters.

    We will have to provide HARD EVIDENCE of what is actually going on behind closed doors,if we really mean to win back lost confidence in our Council.Even our public meetings ,which are open to all are not fully attended for a vast number of reasons.People have so many committments and would love to catch up when it’s convenient.

    We live in a world overflowing with technology.I humbly suggest,that not only do we provide web-casts but also find a way to see if there is an “APP” which can be tapped into—so that we can engage more effectively with YOUTHS.I am no expert but someone might have another practical suggestion to help engage our young folk and prepare them to take charge of their future.Our Youth Parliamentarians have excellent ideas.

    Since we are not a load of Freemasons nor are there matters of national security being discussed at Council meetings it seems wholly appropriate to allow the people of Harrow to be “passive participants”and be able to make up their own minds.

    I believe this could be further enhanced by asking people for their feed-back about these meetings and what they might wish to see happen.This,I believe would be incredibly empowering for our public and an eye opener for those in charge of our Council.It would be a win-win for everybody.

    I sincerely hope Harrow will start taking steps quickly to redress wrong-doing and begin the process of repairing the huge damage it has inflicted on its own body.No more mud-slinging please.The blame game delivers nothing for us.

    We need all our Councillors to simply get to work and SERVE US SELFLESSLY.Good luck,Harrow.

  10. sonoo malkani

    Totally agree with the comments made by Concerned Harrovian.We need to see everything exactly as is!Should be very educational.

    After all,we already have live webcasts from our Parliament so why not our LOCAL GOVERNMENT?Is this not what the Localism Bill is all about?We could pilot this!

    1. Someonewhocares
  11. ricky123

    My offer is still open, with my equipment these meetings could be broadcast live and recorded at the same time to go onto the Council website for people to look at when it is convenient for them. Also it will give the public a chance to ask questions without having to go to the civic because of the time of the meetings and their other commitments etc. They could send their question in which could be read out and answered on the air.

  12. Concerned Harrovian

    Thanks once again for the offer ricky123. It is much appreciated. As S. Malkani points out this would be a good way of engaging with Harrow youngsters. Youngsters who have ambitions to stand as a local councillor, MP or even Prime Minster could see what is involved. People would love to see the questions they have sent in to councillors answered in a public forum.

    The Harrow Youth Parliament and the new Safer Neighbourhood Board could also be recorded. The material could be used by Harrow schools to teach politics in action. The Council sends out an e newsletter and the times of the broadcasts could be included in that as well as iharrow.com and the local newspapers. The turnout of voters at local elections could increase! It could even dispel the myth that councillors are only there to increase their bank balance.

    Has this been done anywhere else in the country? Harrow could lead the way in this!

  13. iharrow.com

    Just an update… I wrote to Dave again last week:

    David

    Congratulations of becoming Leader last night. I appreciate you’re away on a stag weekend (yours?), so when you get back, if I can nudge you to give this some thought. Happy to bring along a colleague who has offered to assist with this, and, of course, there would be no charge to the Council – sure we can even provide the feed for inclusion on the Council’s website if that’s of interest.

    I’d urge you to agree to at least one trial, to see how it goes, before committing to a permanent streaming of all meetings, but I think Cabinet is the best place to start.

    [other stuff snipped]

    Regards
    Paul

    So far, no response…

  14. Honest & Open

    Ok Dave could you kindly answer the following, questions which I have previously posted for you but have yet to get an answer?
    1) Is Council tax being frozen for the next few years?
    2) Please confirm that you will not be re-instating a chief executive as we clearly do not need one as you have pointed out we need to save money?
    3) Will you meet with me and others to discuss holding an open surgery once a month to hear and discuss the needs of the residents. Susan Hall promised to do so?
    4) Can you guarantee that the Council will run smoothly with only a part time Leader of the Council?

    Lastly, for us residents to believe that you want us to be more involved and more connected with politics (only 29% turnout), then the petty comments and nasty attacks on each other ie councillors and others on here has to stop! You should all be ashamed and start acting in a more grown up and sensible way. Is it any wonder people are so angry with politicians right now?

  15. anon

    Bloody hopeless. Should have got the greens in power. Outrageous.

  16. Honest and Open

    Eleven days later and no conversation or answers yet…… am really disappointed.

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