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Sep 23 2013

Susan’s Blog: A Leader’s First Day – September 23, 2013

susan_hall_pinup-150x150Much like the first day of school, my first day as Leader of Harrow Council brought feelings of real excitement with shades of trepidation. As a former Deputy Leader (from 2008-10), I was very aware of the enormous responsibilities that come with the honour of being elected Leader, but knew I would be hitting the ground running after the dramatic vote at Council the night before.

My first meeting of the morning was with the Director of Finance, to discuss some of the ideas I have to improve services – particularly in the public realm. Over the last three years these services have not seen the investment I believe they need, and Harrow’s streets have become dirtier and its parks disheveled as a result. I therefore want to make sure that any proposals we put forward are affordable and financially sound.

Following this I met with staff from legal and democratic services to discuss the procedures and technicalities of selecting the new Cabinet, which was followed by a couple of meetings about communications and officer appointments. Amongst all of this, I managed to squeeze in a few minutes to have some new photos taken for the Council website and press releases.

I then inhaled a salad while still standing up – which I suppose technically counts as lunch – then went over some outstanding issues with my Group office staff, and arranged some meetings for the week ahead.

After this, I had my first press conference as Leader. Journalists from the Harrow Observer and Harrow Times quizzed me on some of the ideas our administration is looking to introduce. I made it clear that our priority was to deliver a cleaner, safer and fairer Harrow, and that these principles would be enshrined in everything the Council does.

I spoke about my passion for public realm services, and how investment is needed to clean up Harrow’s streets and restore the beauty of our parks and open spaces. I explained how we wanted to restore the superb working relationship the Council used to have with the police, and my intention to revitalise the Neighbourhood Champions scheme – both of which would help make Harrow safer. I was also pleased to confirm we would be looking to freeze council tax at the very least, and planned to increase the size of the fraud and planning enforcement teams – so that residents who do the right thing know the Council is on their side.

I then rushed to the Mayor’s Parlour for my first official engagement as Leader – signing the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the Council. This is a statement of mutual support between the Council, the Armed Forces and various civilian organisations – and I cannot think of a more distinguished first engagement for a Leader to have. Following this, I had a meeting with the Chief Executive, a meeting with three members of my since announced Cabinet, and ran through some final bits and pieces with my office staff.

I left the Civic Centre just as it was getting dark, and thought back on the events of the last 24 hours. Compared with the excitement and uncertainty of the Council meeting the night before, my first day as Leader had been almost routine by comparison. Yet I know how fortunate I am to be one of only a handful of people to have experienced a first day as Leader of Harrow Council, and that of itself made the day so very special.

Source: Harrow Council

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6 comments

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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    Glad to hear she is going to take on the task of cleaning up Harrow in terms of rubbish and criminals. It can’t come soon enough. Please use the enforcement powers to fine people for dropping rubbish. If a few people are made an example of,and the fines are high enough, our streets and shopping centres will start to improve.

    I am impressed that SH inhaled a salad whilst standing up. Is this another talent? Sounds the sort of thing a dragon would do! Criminals and litterers be very afraid!

  2. krishna lathia-james

    I have a vision of a hovering dragon fly sucking up the green stuff! Careful Susan you don’t suck the life out of harrow at the same time. The vulnerable community has already had the life sucked out due to your Tory government’s welfare policies. We are one of the richest countries in the world but we have food banks. I never thought we as a society could stoop so low! We need real values of truth justice and right conduct. The recent happenings of throwing away the constitution in the council chambers (the peoples chamber) was certainly not the right conduct or real human values.
    Cllr Krishna James. Shadow portfolio holder for adults and wellbeing.
    mental health champion

  3. sonoo malkani

    Good to know Harrow’s environment and safety will be vigorously tackled by the new Leader of Harrow Council.She has tackled both issues passionately in her previous role..It’s high time we penalised those who choose to foul our borough and then have the nerve to rubbish it.

    We have just given St Anne’s Centre a face-lift at considerable expense,thanks to additional funding from the Mayor of London and must ensure it is kept in pristine condition so that we attract much commerce into our town..Keeping our town crime free is indeed a worthy goal which we can all subscribe to,if we get behind our Borough Commander and his officers.I am sure the Town centre teams will actively police and make shopping a pleasurable and safe experience for us all.We must heed their advice and make life hard for the wrong-doers.

    Of course,Harrow has some areas which are in better shape than others.I sincerely hope we target areas which have become run down ,so that we turn them back into decent living areas —-ones which do not attract the criminal element.–but are returned to the people of Harrow to enjoy and live in as they were meant to be.

    All these improvements will take time and huge committment.Harrovians should get set to make our borough the envy of all eyes!

  4. j p hobbs

    I couldn’t believe the filth and litter by the traffic lights outside Barclays bank in Stanmore yesterday , Stanmore used to be such a smart place , you have a couple of traffic wardens patrolling there with vigour , maybe you could stick a brush in their hands so they can earn their money .

  5. Gary Roberts

    Some good strong words from Cllr Hall. Now let’s see them backed up with actions. Northolt Road is an absolute disgrace for litter 365 days of the year. Road sweepers are almost non existent these days. All we ever get is the mechanical sweeper driving over the pavements damaging them. It cannot get around obstacles or trees. So ends up leaving half the rubbish. No litter picking is ever done at week-ends. So by Monday, the pavements are covered in litter.

  6. Concerned Harrovian

    Susan

    Is there any chance of the Waltham Forest scheme being used in Harrow? See details below. Also if everyone were to pick up litter from the pavement outside their own property and put it in the wheelie bins Harrow would be tidier. After all Harrow does not have unlimited financial resources and we should all do our bit.

    Waltham Forest Council is running a ‘Wipe it Out’ campaign against the unsavoury habits of spitting and urinating in the street. Waltham Forest Council will actively hand people Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs)of £80 as a deterrent in the same way as they do for littering.

    The fines for littering, spitting and urinating could be set high enough to pay for an enforcement officer.

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