Jan 17 2015

Harrow’s Cabinet Meeting – January 15, 2015

harrow_council_logoIf we use the number of residents in attendance at a Cabinet meeting as some indicator of the degree of upset across the borough, it’s clear that something has people fired up, if Thursday’s Council Cabinet meeting was anything to go by. No sign of Lazarus Mike, despite rumours that he’d be there. However, we did spot both Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee of the Lammiman-Hinkley party (yes, she’d parked herself in the front row before being told to move) who spent most the meeting muttering to each other. Also there were Cllrs Mote and Mote, and unusually, Lib Dem Chris Noyce, probably forced along because of the library noise. No sign of any of the independents at all tonight.

The meeting kicked off a few minutes late – Hugh Peart waited until the very last moment, before going to refill his water glass – with Invisible Dave asking people to stand for a moment’s silence out of respect for two council employees who had passed away in the last month, and, obviously as an afterthought, also for Alison Morrison who was murdered in mid-December.

Dave took the opportunity to start with a few words supporting his roll-out of expensive iPads to his councillors, saying it would save paper. It would also give his bunch something to do other than pay attention, if previous Council meetings are anything to go by.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Dave referring to Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick as Pamela Anderson…[/pullquote]So, we start, with Dave referring to Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick as Pamela Anderson (yes, the large-breasted and scantily-dressed blonde from Baywatch), which we can only assume was a Freudian slip. Next up are a few petitions about saving the libraries: Bob Lawrence library gets over 5000 names, Rayners Lane gets over 2000 and North Harrow gets nearly 3000 – they’ll be going for a debate at the next Council meeting. Perhaps the best is a petition from a six-year old from Stage Lane school, read by a six-year old, with 140 children’s names on it.

Public questions next, and some tough ones about a mess-up on Grimsdyke school expansion’s consultation – some residents weren’t consulted, and the ensuing traffic chaos that will happen. All that Dave’s gang can say about it is that a traffic consultant will be asked to write a report on things. Cllr Varsha Parmar flusters over an answer – which won’t be the first time she lets the side down tonight – and the resident expresses his disgust at the whole mess.

Up comes Will Stoodley, our old friend from the ILG. Will’s had a haircut and lost a few pounds, so it’s hardly surprising we didn’t recognise him loitering outside the Civic Centre when we arrived. He asked how much the Barnet FC planning refusal cost the council – Ferry says nly about £9,000 – but that doesn’t include, of course, any bill Barnet FC shove under the council’s nose for their costs. His supplementary question gets a round of applause, and Dave paradoxically manages to answer the question without actually answering the question.

More questions on libraries, which result in a spot of heckling. Luckily, Dave’s learned how to work the control on his sound system, and cuts off the noise with the mute button – something he’ll be doing more and more as the evening progresses.

Next question is about cuts to health services. No real answer worth mentioning, so we won’t.

We move onto Councillor questions next, and Cllr Hall is out the traps like a greyhound. Launching into Cllr Parmar, she asks how the ‘in progress’ letter writing to residents is coming along – something Parmar promised was underway in December. Not so any more – Parmar decides she’s done a u-turn, and says she’s no longer going to write to residents about the street cleaning changes.

Moving on, with Hall on firm territory, the next question is about whether the bin changes are fully costed. Yes, declared Parmar, in a one-word answer. So when Hall asks how Parmar is going to collect these new bins, it’s total shock to all present when Parmar is absolutely unable to give an answer. Not even a guess, but absolute silence. Clearly, Labour’s Cllr Parmar has no clue – has she even read the papers on it all?

Up next comes Cllr Barry Macleod-Cullinane – a name that neither Dave nor sidekick Sachin Shah are able to remember, let alone pronounce.

We have some questions about the ‘delayed’ tree maintenance contract, which has resulted in some trees remaining untouched, much to the anguish of residents who live next to them.

Back up is Cllr Hall again, asking about Grimsdyke school. No real answer from Team Dave other than to promise someone might get possibly asked to perhaps write a report on traffic. So she turns onto Cllr Sue Anderson – the one behind the mess at Lowlands recreation ground – to ask if she’s happy with the library consultation? Anderson expands a one-word response – “yes” – into 2-3 minutes of waffling designed only to waste time, and eventually when backed into a corner, refuses to apologise for the inaccurate figures on library usage that she’d used, but it does give Dave a chance to use his mute button a few times to shut Hall up

So, Grimsdkye School expansion gets approved, funding changes approved, Grange Farm – with architects and consultants billing £1,000,000 for their services – gets the go ahead. Fees and charges are to go up by around 4% on average, although some, like Vehicle crossings aka dropped kerbs, increase by 15%. Why get cars off the road and onto front gardens, when you can catch residents out with parking tickets?

Next is the comms strategy, which the council announces has been won by the Labour-controlled Lambeth Council – and we’ve got a more in depth analysis of that coming up. The word ‘Lambeth’ was only mentioned once, so perhaps the council was trying to keep it quiet – and the name wasn’t mentioned at all in Part I of the council papers, only the secret Part II part. Dave says the cost of this is £1.5m, so perhaps they’ve been shamed into halving it from the original figure? Westminster’s WestCo, who have had the contract since 2007 will be leaving shortly.

As we wrap up, to an almost empty gallery, Dave offers a weak thanks to Paul Nasjarek for his work in acting as Head of Paid Service for the last year, remembering that Paul did apply for the role, and didn’t get it. Interestingly, we hear that all of Lockwood’s staff still remain at the council, almost as if they’ve been awaiting his return for the last 10 months. Looks like a saving Nasjarek could have made there by axing them might have got missed.

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  1. Farah

    The cost breakdown provided by the councillor added up to more than the £150000 quoted on the take part document. Someone needs a lesson on simple addition! Perhaps a trip over to the mathematics aisle of one of the 4 libraries marked for closure might help.

  2. Cllr James Bond

    In response to the observation that no Independent councillors were at cabinet, I want to make it known that I was in fact in the civic centre just along the corridor from where the cabinet was sitting in committee room 3. I was there at a meeting of council officials and representatives of the sports clubs who use Headstone Manor Recreation Ground. I am helping them with many issues of concern that they have with Harrow Council.

  3. Jack Welby

    I have requested the behaviour of councillors Devine and Anderson over the Internet Bob Lawrence library. I hope to have a reply sometime in February. Watch this space.

  4. GrahamL

    Oh goodie, Lambeth Council takes over PR! The same Lambeth Council that wastes their residents council tax on propaganda against the government rather than using the money to maintain and run the borough.

    Typical of Labour cronies, play politics and run down the borough for your own political gain, rather than do the jobs you were elected to do honestly, I look forward to the anti-government posters at bus stops soon!

    1. Jack Welby

      A complaint has been made against councillors Devine, Anderson and Sachin Shah in the way they are hoodwinking Harrow residents over the closure of Bob Lawrence library. I am awaiting a reply from Harrow Council. WATCH THIS SPACE?

  5. sonoo malkani

    Whether or not Harrow Council decides to pay £1.5 million instead of £3 million to Lambeth Communications the tax-payers of Harrow have the right to know whether it is THEIR MONEY being utilised for anti-government campaigning.I thought there were strict rules laid down by the Election Commission about this sort of thing.Please would somebody enlighten me.Surely tax-payers monies must be used for THEIR BENEFIT, not for the benefit of ANY POLITICAL PARTY.Sounds like misuse of funds!Please advise.

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