Jan 22 2017

Upsetting Harrow Council by asking Questions

harrow_council_broken_2The highlight of Cabinet each month, other than where you get to hear the opposition quiz the administration on anything under the sun for 15 minutes, is that residents can also ask questions. This month’s meeting, due to the usual committee rooms being pimped off for some filming or something, had the charm of a railway station waiting room with the toilets to match.

Residents get one question and one follow-up supplementary each meeting. And, apparently, this is not to be used as a source of amusement…

Question: “Would you agree with me that the wellbeing of council staff – such as helping them in reducing stress, and increasing motivation and productivity – is of the utmost importance to you?”

Answer (Cllr Sachin Shah): “Yes”

Supplementary question: “That’s excellent to hear. Thank you. Now, onto the matter in hand… You may have read of a survey by Time Out New York last year which found that 39% of New York office workers admit to masturbating whilst at work, an act which Mark Sergeant, a senior lecturer in psychology at Nottingham Trent University, describes as – and I quote – “…a great way to relieve tension and stress,” and “…a great form of self-motivational reward.” As a council keen to innovate, and since you’re very likely surrounded by them, will your administration – indeed, you personally – be taking a firm grip, and looking at how you can accommodate, support and encourage the four out of every ten – that’s two out of five, Sachin – council staff officers, senior management and, of course, your administration, who are, statistically, w*nkers?”

Answer (Cllr Sachin Shah): “I’m going to refuse to answer that.”

There was more from the Leader, but it was difficult to hear with all the laugher from the Conservative ranks, so you’ll have to wait until the recording is published on the council’s website to see who said what.


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  1. Wealdstone Warrior

    I also understand the Dear Leader Cllr Sachin Shah, was most upset by the amount of questions submitted for the Cabinet meeting. Is he going to impose sanctions on how many questions can be submitted by the public and councillors? Apparently 89 questions is far too many and should not be allowed. Is Cllr Sachin Shah more concerned by the content of the questions being submitted than the amount, as they have to be printed and made public?

    For instance, reading through the questions I am very concerned about the planned container city to house residents in, on the Civic Centre site. I for one am glad these questions were submitted, as I and other residents can keep track of what the Council are up to. If anyone is interested in the questions that were submitted for the last Cabinet meeting take a look here http://www.harrow.gov.uk/www2/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=249&MId=62841

    89 questions is not enough, lets get it to a 100 or more for next Cabinet meeting!

  2. Someonewhocares

    Thanks for posting up the link WW. Clearly Susan H. and Barry M-C. asked the majority of those questions (understandably).

    The primary problem however seems to be getting meaningful/substantial ANSWERS though?! We can ask all we like but it may not help if the replies are just vague/waffle…

  3. Concerned Harrovian


    Thank you for the link to the 89 questions asked of Cabinet I noticed they left out Paul’s supplementary question.

    There was a question about housing on the Civic Centre site. The term “container housing” was used. What is “container housing”? Are the people going to be housed in shipping containers or prefabs. I have absolutely no idea what this term means..

    1. Someonewhocares

      In fact it was WW who posted that link; *Supplementary Questions* are only asked after the Council have provided an answer to the *Main Question* – so they are verbal not printed.

      Yes, there is a plan to house the Homeless here in modified Shipping Containers. This is an idea which originated in the USA a decade or so ago, as here:


    2. Harrow Dude

      “Container Housing” a few pics of what we might have coming to an open space near you…


  4. Praxis Reform

    Amusing as this question is, I think it highlights a deeper issue, which is that politicians in Harrow just aren’t interested in listening to the local populace, don’t want to be held to account, and thus the only peaceful option is for residents to satirize them, highlighting their idiocy and the regular embarrassments that they bring to the borough.

    Put simply, we need to drain the swamp of snouts in the trough useless politicians in Harrow that both political parties have foisted on long-suffering residents.

  5. Someonewhocares

    Well Praxis R, (fortunately) not *all* politicians are such self-serving and selfish individuals (although I do agree it can seem like that at times, both Locally and Nationally). As you know the problem then is if you do not have reasonably-distinct ‘Parties’ what do you replace it with? If it is just bunch of ‘independents’ that means of course that they will probably *never* agree on what to do!

    I have always thought that politicians, particularly when they are at their most pompous, one way or another, usually tend to inadvertently satirise themselves anyway. Thus ‘Draining the Swamp’ is certainly an interesting concept, but, as The Pope said the other day (about the originator of that phrase), Wait And See!

  6. Praxis Reform

    Well Someone, I have to disagree… Looking at local news each week, I always seem to come away with the feeling of “we could put a bunch of school kids in charge of the borough, and they’d make better decisions”.

    Perhaps as you suggest then, the way to go is to abolish the Party system, since the usual debates seem to go either:
    1) This idea was introduced by Labour, so we the Tories oppose it.
    2)This idea was introduced by the Tories, so we Labour oppose it.

    It occurs to me, that if you got a bunch of independents, they’d probably agree on most sensible ideas and reject most daft ones. Though I’m happy to look at whatever suggestions you have that illustrate the Party system being the best system – I just can’t find any.

    As I’ve said before, what with cuts in services, increased privatisation, outsourcing, computerization, and faster, more efficient communications, there’s certainly no need for 63 councillors in Harrow, every other industry has seen cuts in staff due the aforementioned factors, so why should politics be the exception?

    As you say, pompous politicians satirise themselves, but with so few people watching, they are allowed to get away with their incompetence, corruption and bigotry, whereas in any rational business, they’d be unceremoniously kicked out of the door, laughed at mercilessly, and consigned to the dole queue.

    ‘Draining the Swamp’ has a longer history than who I suspect you are referring to. But, I also can’t take seriously a man that wears a dress and a hat shaped like a penis.

  7. Someonewhocares

    First Praxis R. I have to disagree with your statement that I ‘suggested we abolish the Party system’. It is simply ‘the least of many evils’. Similarly I don’t think that you could get hundreds of Independents to agree on the ‘most sensible ideas etc’ – at best it could take several years to get them agree on anything (or just consolidate down to several Parties again too)!

    Perhaps robots could replace Politicians in the future (although some may argue that blindly following Party preferences/whips etc already makes them into a kind of robot anyway)?

    These days we are actually watching politicians more closely than ever before. However they still have an ‘aversion’ to directly answering questions without apparently understanding that we then (correctly) register them as just ‘too slippery to be trusted (again)’:-


    – and I expect that many current politicians use that footage as an “Answering Questions For Dummies” manual too?

    1. Praxis Reform

      If you look back, Someone, you’ll see that you did indeed suggest we *could* replace the Party system with “a bunch of independents”, though if we’re going to split hairs, I agree that you didn’t suggest we *should* adopt that particular system.

      Then again, you do seem to be suggesting that all those hypothetical independents would have to come to complete agreement before any decision could be taken, which we all know isn’t going to happen regardless of how politics is organized…

      So, since you suggest introducing ‘100s of independents’, how about Sortition for an idea?

      It seemed to work for the Romans, although what did the Romans ever do for us? Apart from introduce sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health…

      Robot politicians? Don’t we already have them, blindly following the party Whip, having been given their “reward” of a councillorship and it’s associated stipend for simply stuffing envelopes and mailing propaganda flyers for the Party – no intelligence needed there.

      But more seriously, I’ve watched the Terminator films, and can see where over-reliance on technology leads!

      I read somewhere that more people knit as an interest than follow politics, so I think politics is pretty low on most people’s scales of interest.

      As to slippery, you could have just pointed to May and Fallon avoiding saying whether or not a missile test failed as a better, more topical point…

      Michael Howard likely overstepped his power in dealing with the prison services, but in Engineering, things sometimes fail (otherwise, why test fire missiles?). The important point is how was that failure dealt with? If Sir Michael Fallon eventually says something like “the missile test failed and we all sat round with our thumbs up our arses wondering what to do next”, then he deserves to sacked.

      On the otherhand, if it’s a case of we called in the Engineers and investigated the cause of the failure, identified what went wrong, and will be making changes  to designs/procedures/whatever and then coming back shortly after those changes are implemented to check if they’ve actually solved the problem in the way that we expected, and if not, we will be carrying out further investigation/testing. Then, I don’t see any shame whatsoever in admitting as much.

  8. Someonewhocares

    Well Praxis R. I didn’t say *could* OR *should* – I said *if* (and also why it would not work! Good to see you agreed with that, too! Whilst ‘splitting hairs’ i also said Politicians were already (Whipped) Robots!

    Moving on – to Sortition – I had not considered this; But perhaps it only worked for ‘The Ancients’ because they did not have the real-time communications we have (and so decisions could be made on a relatively ‘devolved’ basis)?

    Yes, I also had ‘slippery’ May/Fallon in mind too: It was painful to watch her NOT answer the question posed.The problem here is that this missile failure was ‘covered up’ *before MPs were voting* on Trident: Sorry Theresa but you really can’t always fall back on ‘National Security’ as sufficient reason NOT to *fully inform* MPs like that. In the Commercial World this is probably equivalent to mis-stating PLC company profits to save shareholders. Tut Tut…..

    1. Praxis Reform

      Perhaps things have changed again, and the current form of politics has become outdated… The Party politicians answer always seems to involve recruiting yet more politicians, and they repeatedly fail at the simple tasks given to them.

      So now we have more MPs than India, more Lords than could fit in their chamber, if they all bothered to turn up and do a little work, a whole bunch of Euro MPs that would seem to be obsolete what with Brexit. A whole layer of useless bureaucracy surrounding London and a dimwit Mayor that promised zero strikes, public transport fees pegged, better air quality and who almost immediately broke all those pledges.

      Oh, and 63 lunatics whose sole function seems to be to ruin Harrow and put my blood pressure up.

  9. red mirror

    i would like to ask the mayor if she is acting in a fiduciary capacity to the residents of harrow if not why not? and if not step down as she is not fulfilling her lawful role. easy question eh? dont expect an answer.

    1. Wealdstone Warrior

      Good question red mirror, the same Mayor is also a councillor for Wealdstone.

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