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Feb 04 2011

Harrow Budget Package announced

We don’t really go in for newsy-type stuff here, as other web sites are better positioned for that sort of thing, but every once in a while, something comes up that we really can’t pass by…  This example is Harrow Council’s budget package, trumpeting 2011 as the “Year for Debate” and declaring the budget as laying the “…foundations for a fitter, leaner organisation…” as well.

“This is a responsible budget that protects priority services and underpins our new approach of involving residents in changing how this Council is run.” – Cllr Bill Stephenson

What’s interesting is that 2011’s year for debate will involve residents.  Now call me cynical if you like, but surely this will simply give the Council a chance to say in 2012, “Well, folks, we tried involving you and look at the mess we’re in now…” if it all goes wrong.

So, what are the highlights? We won’t go into details – as I’ve said, other sites can do that – but the headlines are:

  • Council tax frozen.
  • £19 million of savings to be delivered over the next 12 months.
  • Better Deal for Residents Programme will seek out innovative and cost effective ways of working.
  • Self-service technology in libraries will help keep branches open and generate savings.
  • Children’s centres protected and extra money spent on safeguarding children.
  • Additional £1.5 million in services for people with disabilities.
  • Next phase of “Let’s Talk”  programme to launch in the Spring.

Cllr Bill Stephenson said:

We have all been stunned by the severity and recklessness of the Government’s cuts that go far beyond what we believe is sensible.

There is no getting away from the fact that we have to do less in some cases, and we want people to be clear that these are decisions imposed upon us by the Government. Tough choices have to be made but we will not sit wringing our hands, nor will we simply pass on these cuts to local people.

We are standing up for our residents, freezing council tax and protecting the services they told us matter to them, like keeping our streets clean and looking after people in need. We are also inviting local people and partners to work with us as we reform the Council, to help us do things differently and improve services in key areas.

We want 2011 to be a year of debate in which residents and partners work with us to solve problems and build community pride. It will be a debate about how we modernise, reform and deliver services in the future.

We already listened to what people said during Let’s Talk campaign, and have a new vision and priorities for Harrow. These priorities have shaped the budget and spurred us on to think imaginatively about how we make savings and do things better for less.

At the same time we are taking the lead and making Harrow a leaner, fitter Council, cutting back on bureaucracy, cutting back on middle managers and seeing where we can join forces with neighbouring boroughs to share costs.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

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