May 21 2014

Harrow Conservatives – The ‘S-Factor’

susan_hall_3Dear Harrow Residents,

When you cast your three votes in Thursday’s local election, I hope and would be so grateful if you’d strongly consider voting for your three Conservative candidates.

In the 8 months that the Conservatives have been in charge at Harrow Council, we’ve worked tirelessly to deliver a cleaner, safer and fairer borough for all of our residents.

We’ve invested heavily in cleaning our streets and parks, and we’re committed to supporting and expanding our inspirational Neighbourhood Champions who help report problems in their road to the council or the police, enabling us to fix things early (and save taxpayers’ money) and providing valuable intelligence for our fantastic local police teams (which helps to cut crime). That close working with the Police is already helping to make Harrow the safest borough in London; Harrow has improved from 6th to 3rd safest in less than a year!

conservative_logoWe’ve started to deal with the many ‘beds in sheds’ that we’ve identified (over 450). We’ve also employed extra fraud officers to deal with residents that are cheating the housing and benefits system and we’ve employed extra planning enforcement officers to deal with the many unauthorised buildings that quite understandably upset so many neighbours. We’ve started rolling-out across the borough our20 minutes free on-street parking scheme, and we’ve frozen your council tax – axing Labour’s 2nd planned increase in 2 years – and have promised to cut or freeze it over the next 4 years.

We’re enormously grateful for the support we’re received, but what we’ve done over these 8 months is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine what we could do if you give us 4 whole years!

Back in 2010, Labour were entrusted to lead Harrow Council; but Labour spent 3 years dithering and breaking promises (such as privatising our libraries) before losing power when their Group split.Whilst Independent Labour is a definite improvement over Labour, they remain largely untested; and their promises have become more and more opportunist as the election has approached.

Only the Conservatives offer a comprehensive vision for Harrow – a cleaner, safer and fairer borough – for the benefit of everyone who lives and works here. We’d be hugely appreciative of your votes on Thursday – and we will spend the next 4 years justifying your faith in us.

With challenging times ahead, Harrow Council needs strong and decisive Leadership. In the last 8 months, we believe we’ve provided the Leadership that the Council has desperately needed – and we hope that you’ve noticed the difference we’ve made. But, for the Conservatives to continue to make a difference, we need to win full control of the council and, to do that, we need to win 7 extra Council seats – and that’s why your vote is so very important! If you want us to continue to improve your services, if you want us to deliver on our promise for a better Harrow, if you want a cleaner, safer, fairer borough – then the Conservatives need your support at the ballot box on Thursday.

Kind regards,

Cllr. Susan Hall
Leader of Harrow Council
& Harrow Council Conservative Group

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  1. A very upset former Conservative voter

    I have never voted anything other than Conservative in my life. However, I will not be voting Conservative on Thursday. I submitted a planning application and the farce that followed due to the falling apart of the planning department is beyond belief. It is under your leadership that senior planning officers have left and we are left with inexperienced, unsuitable, incompetent, overworked staff. I have paid for my application and it’s totally disgusting that my planning application has been massively delayed.

    Paul, you might want to submit some FOI’s to get a real picture of just how bad things are in Planning at the moment.

  2. Someonewhocares

    Not sure where to start with this one!

    First is that ‘S’ supposed to be for ‘Susan’?

    Unfortunately we all know that many of the issues you are addressing are not actually new ones at all – and are often issues originally raised by the very parties you seek to criticise, your opposition. Sadly however we ‘The People’ are not so concerned about ‘beds in sheds’ or ‘litter and spitting’ and all the other petty distractions, nor are we particularly impressed with us apparently having moved up in ‘The Charts’ for safety, and frankly we did not even realise it was a competition, as though that mattered.

    Moving on from such superficial issues we are actually more concerned with the financial futures for Harrow, for instance can you guarantee us that we will not have ‘more of the same’ (for example cuts) in the next years or does what you have said about all this just amount to more empty election promises? Can you guarantee that we will not have some announcement about ‘unanticipated costs’ in the next years as an excuse for some of your rather characteristic ‘radical actions’?

    Yes, we need strong leadership, No, not the ‘my way or highway’ kinds.

    Furthermore why not tell us exactly what you would do now, not just imply ‘it will be better under the Conservatives’? We need convincing – seriously!

  3. Susan Hall

    I am sorry you are unhappy with the Planning department. If you e mail me separately with details (susanmaryhall@gmail.com) I will ask the Planning Director to investigate. It is a shame this was not highlighted earlier. I have not been informed of any other issues like this from residents so am unaware that there have been issues. In actual fact we have employed more people in the planning enforcement department to assist with a backlog of issues we inherited Also for your information we have employed a new Planning Director and Labour have complained and said we do not need one and that they would not support that post.

  4. MysticMeg

    Trust me when I say that Labour were worse. They were responsible for nodding through that huge monster of a building, opposite the civic centre despite it being too large and not in keeping with the local area. They bowed down to political correctness in the hope of soliciting more votes. At least the Conservatives try to keep vulgar developments at bay and bring some good quality development to Harrow. I don’t think senior planners left because of Susan Hall, they left because she got rid of dead wood, I have no problem with performance measuring people out if they are not effective and as we know, in the public sector, there is much overpaid ” dead wood”. Michael Lockwood was a sterling example of that and good old Susan Hall showed him the red card soon enough

  5. BelieveMe

    Believe me the planning department has been a total disgrace long before the Tories took over.

    The fact that Senior Planning Officers have been displayed is a good thing and something that should be praised not criticised.

    Of course, you cannot change a massive department like planning overnight but Susan is well aware of the problems and is sorting them.

  6. Nollaig Gee

    Surely it’s irrelevant what party are in control of the Council? If the Planning Dept is in such dire straights isn’t it poor management and not Labour/independent Labour or the Tories fault?? I wonder what’s the staff turnover & why do they leave? Maybe when the next administration comes to power they might be able to address the problem with senior managers in Planning.

  7. Trueblue

    Susan, I sincerely hope you win tomorrow. You have worked so hard in the last 8 months and achieved so much for the people of Harrow. Thank you. Like you say just imagine what you could achieve for us if you had 4 whole years.

    I had never realised that David Perry, apart from being Labour Leader, also has a full time job. That explains why we have hardly heard from him during this campaign. It would clearly be impossible to effectively run the council and continue to hold down his job.

    On the subject of planning, prior to your administration the planning department was a shambles and by all accounts have a reputation for being incompetent. The departure of a senior officer there hasn’t solved the problem as there are still other senior officers in place who based on their incompetence shouldn’t be. I know you are on the case and certainly this issue was around long before you became leader.

    Good Luck Susan!

  8. Honest and Open

    Mystic Meg I agree with you. In the words of Theresa May today about the police ‘there should be sweeping reforms’, this also should apply to Harrow Council. For too long there have been Council officers, some senior, who should simply not hold the posts that they do. There seems to be problems in quite a number of depts within the Council, Planning, FOI requests, Childrens services, and probably others as well?

    I am dismayed that there has not been an answer on here to my question about the cloak of secrecy surrounding Chldrens services, with Adrian Parker Head of education services, Catherine Doran Childrens services director, and the Head at Weald Junior school, soon to go into special measures, all taking ‘retirement’ at the same time? This is one reason why many residents are cross with the council for always being so secretive and sweeping anything that goes wrong under the carpet. Could someone please still answer this question……maybe you Susan Hall?

    My own experience of making a complaint is that you are treated with contempt, villified, threatened, lies made up about you, and have your whole character assassinated. I have also had officers be rude to me, and yet they kept their jobs? How can this be, after all we are the customers, and in most other organisations, especially the private sector they would have been sacked or severely reprimanded. . If you are not satisfied with the first stage answer, it goes to a stage 2 and then a 3. But each time it is dealt with by a Council officer, sometimes director level, who in the main will mostly not find in favour of the complainant. This is just an example of how they protect each other.

    Therefore I have a suggestion for whoever becomes Leader of the Council in the coming days. Susan Hall has agreed to set up an open surgery for residents to meet with and discuss any issues that they may have, that is a start.. But also, what about convening a panel, comprising of mostly residents (chosen by the residents), Leader of the Council, councillors, and council officers, who can perhaps sit once a month, to discuss more serious issues that have been brought to the Councils attention. It would seem to me a fairer, more open and transparent way of Harrow residents being listened to and having their concerns acted upon? Perhaps a resident can be the chair?

    It is all very well promoting a safer, cleaner and fairer borough, but it is more important to clean up within the Council first. .

  9. sonoo malkani

    Certainly hope we manage to keep Harrow Cleaner,Safer and Fairer and that the good work accomplished over the last few months is not undone by whoever wins the Council.High time we put our differences aside and allowed Harrow to get back on its feet.

    Cllr Hall has worked tirelessly to help our borough thrive.She has her work cut out and has made several promises which will help deliver for the benefit of Harrow’s ctizens.Wish her the best of luck tomorrow.

    We need people who are fully committed to our well-being and very focussed on improvements to our services

    It seems Planning has some rather sticky issues which need resolving fairly promptly.Do hope whoever comes in makes that a priority.

  10. Linda Robinson

    There might be any number of good reasons to turn away from the Conservative Party, former voter, but the dire state of the Planning Department is not one of them. I’ve had a lot of dealings with Planning, especially last year. Like others who have commented above, I can assure you that certain sections of the Department were inexcusably shambolic long before Susan or even her predecessor came to power. Planning regulations are complex and ever changing, and residents should be able to expect a much higher level of competence and professionalism than I’ve experienced from some Harrow officers. Such behaviour and muddle would never be tolerated in a commercial operation.

    In fact, Susan is probably one of your best bets for HonestandOpen’s “sweeping reforms”, but she can’t have it both ways about Planning – either, as she says, she is “unaware that there have been issues”, or, as BelieveMe and TrueBlue insist, “she is well aware of the problems” and is “on the case”.

    I can’t bring myself to vote Conservative, Labour, or UKIP after the antics we’ve witnessed locally and the national political scene we’ve endured. On the European side of things, I’ll be voting Green as always. Luckily, in Stanmore Park, Independent Labour is out of the equation for me. I’ve always wished in vain for a truly independent candidate to support. So this time I put myself forward independently and now at least I can conscientiously exercise my democratic right, by voting for myself!

    If you’re lucky enough to have an independent candidate or two in your ward, or Green Party or anyone else not affiliated to the major parties, please consider carefully how you will use your votes to send a message that we’re all fed up with silly political posturing. Instead we just expect responsible adults to work together to achieve the best results for residents and run a local authority we can be proud of.

    Vote wisely: we will get the Council we deserve. The thought of having Susan in power for another four years is quite scary, but not as scary as some of the alternatives we’ve seen in recent years that have led to the extremely poor performance epitomised by the Planning Department among others. I’m hoping we’ll get a few more independents like the excellent Cllr Bond, who is a voice of reason to temper the power struggles. It’ll be interesting to see what we end up with. Fingers crossed it won’t be worse than what we’ve got now.

  11. MysticMeg

    I like “OPEN & HONEST” suggested reforms. I believe a panel comprising residents, Councillors and the leader should convene say once a quarter and let the people bring their unresolved issues to the table. Having had my own issues with Senior management in Harrow I concur with the view that these people cover each others backs! There is no intention of resolving issues with the poor peasants who bring their woes to them. Instead, it is a quick sweep under the carpet, laid over with a nice new mat, and bingo, the problem disappeared. I promise you that there is so much deadwood sitting within the council and someone needs to out them. Try calling the planning department anytime after 1.00 p.m on a Friday. Flexi-hours and a boozy lunch warrants them going home early even if no one is there to man the department. It would never happen in the private sector. You wouldn’t dare take liberties with your employers money. Sadly, council workers are paid by us, and until and unless we start communicating our expectations, we will get the council we deserve.

    I am still carrying my voting card with me, and as yet, remain undecided about casting a vote. I have always voted and have never had such a dilemma. I am very tempted to spoil my vote just to exercise my constitutional right to vote. I cannot cast it with the conviction that I am voting for a party that will change my life in Harrow!!

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