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Nov 01 2013

Leader’s Blog: Donal Drohan – November 1, 2013

susan_hall_pinup-150x150ONE event above all has cast a dark shadow over Harrow Council this week, and that is the death of Donal Drohan. I knew Donal well, and I’m sure that, like me, anyone who knew him found him eternally cheerful and relentlessly helpful. Our public realm department was truly blessed to have an officer who was so passionate about Harrow looking good.

Monday was an incredibly tough day for all of us. Staff at the depot were devastated by the news when it came through. This was a man who had spent 25 years working for this local authority, and we could scarcely comprehend the news of that terrible car accident in Watford.

There have been lots of tributes to Donal, via phone calls, emails and letters, and I know the family are comforted by this outpouring of warmth amidst the grief. I am also pleased to see there have been thoughtful pieces about his passing in the media both here and in Ireland. The funeral next week will of course be the formal occasion for the council to pay its respects, and again I know we will all rally round Donal’s family.

In spite of Monday’s terrible news, our environment crews – more than 120 officers at points including many of Donal’s colleagues – demonstrated their utter professionalism as they got to work to cleaning up the storm damage in Harrow. Around 450 trees were blown down, but within 48 hours we had cleared the majority of the main roads and side roads from obstruction. That work is still going on, but I’d like to thank our staff for getting on top of the damage so quickly.

As a green and leafy borough – with 18,000 street trees alone – we are always going to be exposed when freak weather strikes and Monday’s storm clearly fell into that category.
No doubt many of us got caught up in the train, tube and bus chaos that followed. But the great thing is that lots of our officers live on the patch, so were able to get into work with little difficulty and start straight away on the clean-up operation.

As the branches and debris get cleared, we are now looking at the next phase of the recovery operation which will involve replanting trees in affected areas. We will soon have Harrow looking good again. As a man whose working life revolving around Harrow being clean and green, I hope that, in its way, will also prove a fitting tribute to Donal.

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