Oct 01 2012

Frontline Cuts: Harrow Reduces Planning Enforcement Officers

Harrow Council is to reduce the number of planning enforcement officers serving the borough to just two, as the result of budget cuts. In an e-mail sent to councilors on 26th September, the Divisional Director of Planning for the Labour-run authority announced that a senior enforcement position has been deleted – with another officer leaving this post – and that the department’s budget faces “significant challenges” in the near future.

The revelation has been attacked by opposition Conservatives, with shadow planning and regeneration portfolio holder Cllr. Stephen Greek saying: “Enforcement officers perform a vital role by ensuring that planning permissions are complied with and that illegal developments do not occur. It will be Harrow residents who suffer as a result of these cuts, as it means the Council’s capacity for carrying out this work will be severely reduced. This means complaints about unexpected extensions, suspiciously large new garages and other infractions of this nature will be investigated slower, or not at all.

When someone carries out an illegal development it can be very upsetting and frustrating for those who live and work nearby. These feelings will be amplified if the only reason dodgy developers get away with it is because the Council doesn’t have the ability to take action against them.”

Enforcement officers perform a vital role – Cllr Stephen Greek

Cllr. Greek concluded: “Our residents deserve a planning department that is on their side, but the Council’s cuts make that increasingly difficult. Labour like to say they are protecting front-line services while making cuts elsewhere, but enforcement is a service which engages with residents and protects the appearance of our borough. It is the very definition of ‘front-line’.”

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