Feb 02 2013

Susan Says: Harrow’s Street Cleaning Budget Faces Secret Cuts

susan_hall_150x150Over £200,000 is to be cut from Harrow Council’s street cleaning budget, it can be revealed.

£116,000 will be cut through a reduction in (non town centre) sweepers, and a further £82,000 will come from cutting the cleaning of residential streets from once every four weeks to once every six weeks. The details emerged after the Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr. Susan Hall, demanded a breakdown of vague ‘public realm service reduction’ in the Labour administration’s budget. It comes as the Council is encouraging residents to sign up to its ‘Street Refresh’ scheme, which will see volunteers provided with equipment and tools for cleaning and maintaining their local parks, streets and flowerbeds.

Cllr. Hall said: “There are several issues here; the first being that Labour tried to keep residents in the dark about these cuts for as long as possible. The budget gives no details on what specific public realm services would be cut, and portfolio holder Cllr. Phillip O’Dell refused to tell me when I asked him at Cabinet in December. Labour have also blocked us seeing the relevant background papers until after the budget goes to Council in late February. So they’ve tried every trick to keep these cuts a secret.”

Cllr. Hall continued: “Secondly; for Labour to make this cut after the noise they made about street cleaning in the past is nothing short of appalling. In their manifesto they said ‘look around Harrow… shabby streets, not swept properly… neglect everywhere’, and they said this when our street cleaning had never been better – when many streets were cleaned every three weeks. Now they’re going to slash and burn at the budget which funds the very cleaning they claim to value so much.”

Cllr. Hall concluded: “Finally, there’s something particularly devious about cutting this budget, in secret, while encouraging residents to take pride in their local areas. I’m very keen on community and resident involvement of this nature – it’s why I launched the Neighbourhood Champions scheme and Weeks of Action. So there’s nothing wrong with the Street Refresh idea of itself, but coupled with these cuts it’s as though Labour are trying to make a DIY public realm department. Given Labour are also planning a 2% increase in council tax, what they are saying to residents is they should do more and pay more, but get less from their Council.”

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