May 29 2013

Frontline Cuts: Toilets closing, streets remaining unswept for longer…

harrow_council_logo2Donal Drohan, the Public Realm operations manager at Harrow Council writes…

I would like to introduce myself. I am the Operations Manager for Harrow Council and I am responsible for the street cleaning across the Borough. This involves the cleaning of all the shopping areas as well as the residential roads across the Borough.

As a result of the financial challenges facing Harrow, The Environment and Enterprise Department has a £7 million budget reduction from April 2013, with an additional £2 million from April 2014.

The funding challenge is too great to maintain current levels of service provision in all areas; however, through a great deal of work over the last few months we have worked to minimise the impact as far as we can.

In the current age of less public spending we must target our services very carefully in line with the decisions made by Members when setting the budget. We recognise that we are the only “universal” directorate in the whole council, and that every resident, business and visitor in Harrow experiences the services we deliver. We take this responsibility seriously.

We are consulting with users and stakeholders about how these changes can be implemented and are encouraging the public to take more responsibility for the environment. We will help them to do this by providing:

  • Improved customer services by sharing more information with residents and businesses through the website and Access Harrow. e.g. potholes, tree works and progress on resident requests for service.
  • Bringing together community engagement work into one team to provide local communities more opportunities to get involved in helping us plan and deliver our environmental services
  • Clear information via the internet and Access Harrow on the services standards customers can expect from Environment and Enterprise

Our approach will be supported by the Council’s “Make it Happen” campaign that will aim to support, enable and facilitate residents who want to have a positive impact on their community. We will promote ways to get involved and celebrate those who do. Particular areas of work will include Street Refresh, Neighbourhood Champions, an anti-litter campaign, promoting volunteering and community takeover.

There will be staff changes as a result of our proposals and staff and unions are being formally consulted with at the moment.

There are two schemes affecting street cleansing

  • Reducing the cleansing cycle on residential roads from a four week cycle to six weeks
  • Removing the static sweeper from district centres and incorporating the workload into a mobile crew.

The changes in cleaning cycles may result in some increase in litter. We will ensure that a reactive workforce is in place to respond to customer referrals and keep highways within the agreed tolerances for litter and refuse, particularly during times of heavy leaf fall.

We will prioritise resources to target areas with a high proportion of trees in the autumn and will work with residents groups to try and identify any significant risk and to decide how these can be reduced.
The Rapid Response fly tip service will still be able to react to requests from residents in the case of fly tipping.

Sweeping in district centres are currently cleansed early in the morning with an operative staying in the area to provide further litter picking throughout the day. The new arrangements will be for a mobile team to undertake one single cleansing operation only, still ensuring that the area is cleansed early in the day. We are visiting traders in these areas and discuss ways that we can work together to discourage littering throughout the day.

The district centres are North Harrow, Pinner, Hatch End, Stanmore, Belmont/Queensbury, Rayners Lane, South Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Edgware, and Kenton.

On-street Automatic public Conveniences

The Council has agreed to reduce the number of on-street automatic public conveniences.

The automatic toilets in South Harrow, Streatfield Road and the Town Centre have reached the end of their lease period and life span. These units have been in location for the last 25 years.

We have reviewed toilet provision across the Borough and in the case of these units where there is adequate alternative provision or low levels of use we have made the decision to remove the units.

The library adjacent to the South Harrow toilet has been equipped with a toilet suitable for disabled use and is available for public use during its’ open times. Whilst in the library you may wish to explore the range of books and magazines available to Harrow residents.

The Town Centre toilet in College road has four separate toilet facilities that can be used by the public with in a short walk of the current toilets. These are in the following locations:

  • HOTH train Station 5am to midnight
  • Bus Station 7.30am to 8pm Mon to Sat and 10am to 5.30pm on Sun.
  • St Georges Centre. 8.30am to 7pm.
  • St Anne’s Centre. 7am to 6pm.
  • Various pubs, shops and restaurants.

We are consulting with users and stakeholders about how these changes can be implemented and are encouraging the public to take more responsibility for the environment.

If you have any comments on implementation of the schemes or can suggest ways in which your organisation can assist to us to provide the best service for our respective users please feel free to contact me direct.

Donal Drohan


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  1. Harrow Dude (@Harrow_Dude)

    Dear Mr Drohan

    Our streets are filthy enough already I urge you to take a stroll through Edgware, Rayners Lane or South Harrow any given weekend and tell me that I am wrong and you say it’s only going to get worse. What is the agreed tolerance for litter and refuse anyway?

    Have I understood you correctly are you saying that after a 2% rise in my council tax I am now expected to join forces with my neighbours to clean my local streets and maintain my local park or is my interpretation of ‘Street Refresh’ incorrect.

    You are spending £2 Million pounds regenerating Harrow Town centre, I assume with the intention of encouraging more visitors but yet you only intend to clean early in the day but surely more visitors will result in more litter, will the afternoon shoppers be expected to litter pick as they shop? How exactly do you intend to ‘discourage littering throughout the day’ and why as a responsible council are you not doing this already?

  2. Susan Hall

    The amount of money removed from the Public Realm Services in this years Labour budget are a disgrace. We the Conservatives made our opposition to the cuts very well known at Cabinet through the media and by voting against the budget, specifically mentioning the devastating effect these particular cuts would have on the streets of Harrow. I sincerely hope the new administration will heed the need to address some of these vital services and not go ahead with other new ideas. One of the most important things to our residents and businesses are clean streets. The cleanliness of the environment also has a knock on effect on safety/crime. This is why we named the budget ‘the pay more get less budget’ – sadly residents are beginning to see what we meant with a Council Tax hike and ever increasingly filthy streets. Our residents deserve better..

  3. Ben Ones

    Harrow Labour Councillors should get out more, sometime I really do think they go around with blinkers on. They decide to raise council tax and reduce services. Harrow is one of the few councils in London to raise council tax while others are static or reducing them. If they are reducing services then council tax should be cut.

  4. Susan Hall

    Well said Ben Ones, I despair, I really do!

  5. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    It was Gareth Thomas – he kyboshed my request, nay my plea, for a referendum. A 5% rise would have meant no more cuts but you the citizens woud have decided whether that’s what you wanted. I had them convinced until Gareth swanned into our group meeting around 12:30, used his position to argue against it, said we “should not shy from tough decisions” (aka cuts), said the West Harrow by-election was referendum enough, then had his free lunch and left. Result = they voted for 2% which DIDN’T need a referendum. Gareth disenfranchised you, citizens of Harrow; remember that at the ballot box…

  6. Richard Garcia

    In the case of South Harrow most of the litter is directly dropped outside the fast food shops between the station and eastcote Road. Surely Harrow council could talk to these premises managers and encourage them to at least sweep up the packaging dumped right outside their shops. Westminster city council takes this extremely seriously and serves fines to fast food restaurants for this. On the other hand the public bins are over flowing with rubbish and caked in pan spit as is the pavement. Whats the point in fitting new shop fronts if potential shoppers are walking ankle deep in rubbish. Come on Harrow Council get pro-active, work to make this a borrough people want to do business in and shop.

  7. jande76959@aol.com

    whilst I agree it is not as simple as that. No planning permission should be issued for new fast food outlets without a “clean up” clause (however many new fast food outlets will not require new planning permission as not a change of use in planning terms). There should be a change in the law allowing police and council enforcement officers to issue instant fines to litterers, throwing litter on the street should become as unacceptable as drink driving.

  8. jande76959@aol.com

    What a load of hogwash from Stoodley. Perhaps if he spent more time in Harrow and less in the far east he may have more idea what goes on. Hang on a minute did he not dissappear to the South of France when he should have been at the council budget setting meeting!

  9. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    what a load of hogwash from Jeff Anderson! I was a member of the ILG when I was visiting my brother who lives in Marseille so why on earth would I be invited to Harrow Labour Group’s budget setting meeting?! (And don’t Harrow Labour Group allow the visiting of relations?!)

  10. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    It would help if the good citizens of Harrow didn’t drop litter. Walking through the town centre at 3:30 on a Sunday morning after Trinity’s closed is an incredible sight-one literally cannot see the pavement for litter. Then the little hoover van comes round and it’s all clean for the next morning and nobody ever knows or realises how bad it was the night before.

  11. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    Oh hang on a minute-isn’t another member of the Harrow Labour Group complaining about personal smears and attacks, whilst their colleague is personally attacking and smearing me?!! Never mind – I have a horrendously bad attention deficit disorder and so bad attention is always welcome as it is better than no attention at all; I await Jeff Anderson’s next smear with joyful anticipation! At least you didn’t remain anonymous like most of the commentators on here!

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