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Jan 30 2013

Great Leader’s Blog – January 29, 2013

thaya_idaikkadarWelcome to my first Leader blog of 2013! I hope you’re all keeping warm and safe throughout this icy weather. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by an ITN weather man a couple of weeks ago and he warned me about this cold snap – one of the perks of being leader of the Council!

On a serious note, what really sends shivers through my bones is not the ice or snow – it’s the consequences of Government cuts to this year’s budget and the impact these cuts will have upon my residents. This Council is facing its most challenging financial situation in decades, yet unlike many London Boroughs, all of our children’s centres and libraries remain open, we are increasing the number of social workers and investing in elderly care.

This is why we have been faced with no choice other than to raise council tax by two per cent so we can protect the services we know our residents care most about. We have made this decision with a heavy heart and I appreciate that it is not going to please everyone. I am proud that we are a Council that has set a moral budget which protects our most vulnerable residents who are most in need.

I believe Harrow’s future remains bright despite the unprecedented financial situation that is not of our making. We are a modern, well-run, and low cost Council with ambitious plans to create a thriving local economy and a town centre that rivals any our West London neighbours. We put our most vulnerable residents first and we ensure everyone has a roof over their head.

This year’s budget has been the most challenging in decades and we have been forced to make some of the most difficult decisions we have ever made. Between 2010 and 2015 we will take £75m out of a controllable budget of £188m. If we were to freeze council tax for the fourth successive year the alternative is to make even deeper and more painful cuts. The two per cent rise in council tax amounts to 47p a week – the cost of a pint of milk, and by raising council tax now we are helping to protect services in the future.

The situation is worse in Harrow than in most other authorities because the Council has one of the lowest Government grants in the Capital. We are an outer London Borough with inner London problems yet receive £1,608 per resident whereas our neighbours in Brent receive £3,317 – more than twice as much. If we received that grant we would be £420m per year better off. We also have the lowest financial reserves in London – standing at £7.6m. The Council will lobby hard over the next few months to urge the Government to improve Harrow’s share.

We have made significant savings over the past few years by being more efficient, adopting a more commercial approach especially around how we procure or buy supplies and services, and finding innovative ways to deliver services. However, the Council has also had to deal with a number of challenges. The Census data revealed changes in the demography of the borough over the past ten years. The Council must invest in services to support a 33 per cent rise in the number of children aged 0 – 4, and a thousand more people over the age of 80, while overall population has grown by 15 per cent.

Government cuts will continue and the financial climate is not getting any easier. We want the best for our residents, we want our communities to thrive, and I know that with your help we can make a difference and get through these tough times together.

Source: Harrow Council

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2 comments

  1. Jeremy Zeid

    O Great Leader. Had the Peoples Socialist Party not p*ssed nearly THREE MILLION of our money a year more than necessary at Crapita, your heart and indeed your liver and spleen wouldn’t have needed to be so heavy as there would have been enough money not to steal ours yet again.

    All of those high profile “cuts” to front line staff, mowing and locking parks are pure showboating so that Mogadon Man, Kim-il -Shah, the man who all but bankrupted Harrow can use these bleeding stump politics to launch his parliamentary bid on a flurry of lies and half truths again.

  2. Morepowertothepeople

    Jeremy Zeid…….Laugh out loud!
    Leader of the Council….. Bad points as follows;
    1) You did not write this piece it was very clearly written for you, in future write your own blogs. A suggestion for your scriptwriter the word Innovative is overused and becoming boring!
    2) I am not YOUR resident!
    3) The minute you raised the Council tax by 2% your morals went out the Window! My council tax will go up more than a standard pint of milk!
    4)Modern well run and low cost council you are not! Wasteful, arrogant, and well behind the times you are!
    5)I know from personal experience you do not always protect your most vulnerable residents!
    6) Stop dishing out the same old drivel! Be more transparent, and let us see exactly where all of our money is spent, and let us decide whether you are morally right or wrong here!
    Stop blaming the govt, get off your backsides and go take a look at how a proper council like Hammersmith and Fulham conduct their affairs!
    7) Get rid of some of your fat cat directors and /or slice their salaries!

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