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Jan 26 2013

Labour on your side: support for disabled people, a priority

labour_roseThis week, Labour Councillors have listened to the residents of Harrow and have voted to protect and support entitlements for disabled people in Harrow. Recent initiatives to support those in most need, include ‘Harrow Housewarmers’ – a scheme developed with local charities to provide grants and advice to vulnerable residents during the cold weather.

The Government has given each Council responsibility to implement a new council tax benefit scheme, nicknamed Poll Tax 2 by those who understand the thinking behind it. Shamefully, the Toryled Coalition cut the amount of money available to support those in need. Despite the fact that Harrow receives a low settlement from Government, the Labour Group has chosen, as a result of extensive consultation, to protect disabled people first. This means some people will pay more, with exceptions being restricted for those who have second or empty homes in the Borough for example. The irresponsible and uncaring Conservatives, voted against the proposals but offered no alternative. It is worth noting that none of Harrow’s Conservatives supported the Hardest Hit march organised by Harrow’s Voluntary and Community Sector on the 3rd of December.

Harrow’s Labour Group condemns proposals put forward by Conservative Councillors that would have stripped any Councillor receiving benefit support of the right to vote at a Council meeting on council tax benefit. No other Council, Labour or Conservative, has made such an outrageous proposal. Councillors across the political divide come from a wide range of different backgrounds, and like all residents, are entitled to support from time to time in life. For those who think all the Parties are the same, please note the difference; one would deprive you of your right to vote if you are poor, the other would ensure that your views are taken on board. A Labour activist, passionate about serving his community once said: “In public service, wealth should not be an advantage, nor poverty a barrier”. The social and economic circumstances of Councillors should not limit their participation in Council business nor impede their duty to represent residents in their ward on decisions that impact upon their daily lives. All Councillors have signed up to the ‘Nolan principles’ and the publicly available register of interests allows residents to scrutinise their representatives.

Indeed it was actually a Labour Government that set up Standards for England in 2000 to promote high ethical standards and democracy in local government. Far from being champions of transparency and good behaviour it was actually the current Conservative led Coalition Government, made up of millionaires, that abolished statutory standards of conduct for Councillors under the Localism Act.

Cllr Thaya Iddaikkadar, Leader of Harrow Council, said: “This week I am proud that all Labour Councillors voted to prioritise support for disabled people in Harrow, those who are being hardest hit by Government austerity. Not only did the Conservatives vote against this, but they also proposed stripping the rights of Councillors in receipt of benefits to vote. Every Councillor, just like every citizen, in Harrow has the right to vote regardless of their economic or social circumstances. The Labour Party is, and always has been, an inclusive party. We know that to represent the interests of everyone in our community we need Councillors from a range of backgrounds. No other Council, either Labour or Conservative, has made such an outrageous move.”

Source: Harrow Labour Group

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