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Oct 23 2013

Leader’s Blog: Getting to Grips With Agressive Van Drivers – October 22, 2013

susan_hall_pinup-150x150What do aggressive van drivers at the Civic Amenity site and a room full of stalls with experts offering tips on jobs training advice have in common? Not much immediately, you might think. But both have this week prompted Harrow Council to take action and, I’d argue, they are perfect examples of my administration’s campaign to make Harrow fairer.

Let’s deal first with the road rage – or rubbish rage you might call it – our officers have been encountering at the Civic Amenity site. The problem has been that some site users have been abusing the policy that allows visitors to make three trips a year in a van and dump rubbish from it, rather than use their household car. A handful of selfish visitors to the Forward Drive site clearly believe the “three van trips” rule applies only to the little people, and not themselves. Not only have they refused to abide by the guideline, they have become confrontational when challenged. Council officers have been sworn at and, in one case, menaced with threats of violence. Incredibly enough, one driver even stripping to the waste [sic] and offering to fight the council employee involved.

While this Jurassic level of behaviour may sound faintly comical, it clearly isn’t if you are the employee being threatened. It is totally unacceptable. These are people who plainly don’t see why they should pay the £220-per-tonne tipping fee that applies to other users.

We have therefore brought in a year ban for yob drivers who abuse the “three visits in a van” policy. If they continue to intimidate council staff, then they can expect an ASBO through the courts. We have already issued two one-year bans to offenders at the Civic Amenity site and, thankfully, the number of incidents seems to be dying down as the message gets through. Try and use our staff as verbal punchbags and don’t be surprised if you get a sharp right hook from the council’s lawyers by return.

So much for people who won’t play fair. But on a far more uplifting note, it was my real pleasure to attend the Helping You event at the Kadwa Patidar Centre in Kenton yesterday. More than 25 organisations ranging from Jobcentre Plus to NatWest, Harrow Victim Support and the Morrisons supermarket group were present to offer advice on everything from starting your own business to managing on a budget and sharpening up rusty interview and application skills.

The hall was packed – around 500 people attended – and the council laid on free buses from outside the Civic Centre and St Ann’s shopping centre for those interested in going. And those buses were packed, I am pleased to say, shuttling back and forth during the course of an event that ran for seven hours.

This represents the positive side of our “fair” campaign – which is about ensuring that people in Harrow get the opportunities they deserve for training, jobs, or starting a business. It isn’t the council’s job to create jobs, but the local authority has a leadership role in convening those people and organisations who can provide ladders of opportunity. Harrow people are enterprising – I know that as a local businesswoman myself – and, walking around the Kadwa Patidar centre, I was more convinced than ever that this is a great place to do business. We’ve got the right people here in Harrow; and your council will keep working to ensure everyone able to help provide jobs or training gets that message.

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