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Sep 26 2014

Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board. What? Who?

police_bmw_150x150The Harrow SNB had its first meeting in April, with the election of it’s officers. Since then, it’s been quieter than a church mouse. Which is odd, since the #1 key aim for SNBs is “To ensure communities are more closely involved in problem solving and crime prevention” according to the guidance (page 1).

The guidance goes on to say:

“…it is important that Safer Neighbourhood Boards conduct some public-facing activity…” (page 6).

“…each borough will be provided with approximately £5,200 to specifically support administration and management of the boards…” (also page 6).

But, as yet, nothing. Even a Google search provides little in the way of answers, other than a Mr Subhash Sampat who says, on his LinkedIn profile, that he is joint vice chair.

We’ve got questions with both the Council’s representatives on the Harrow SNB – Cllrs Susan Hall and Varsha Parmar – and we’ll add more when more details are forthcoming. Meanwhile, this sorry state of affairs probably isn’t what Boris imagined when he dreamt up the idea two years ago, when he said “I’ll give residents [a] say in running police on their streets.

 

 

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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    If there are two vice chairmen and we have the name of one there must have been another vice chairman appointed. Also there must be a chairman and presumably other officers. Why are these names not in the public forum?

    Taxpayers are also paying £5,200 for administration so the Board must be producing minutes and accounts. Where is this sum of money going? Is it to a private company for supplying minutes and accounts or is it a Council department?

    The funding is coming from public funds and we are entitled to know the details. The public are also entitled to know the date and venue of the public meetings because, again they are funding this Board.

  2. Susan Hall

    Concerned Harovian you are completely correct. I will try and get a proper answer. Had we Tories been in control this would have been sorted out a while ago. I know our Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens completely supports transparency. The Council Officers and thus the Cabinet Member Varsha Parmar should be able to answer this so I will request that this is looked at straight away and hopefully the Chairman and Board will made public.

  3. Susan Hall

    I asked for a reply from officers, and they told me that the Safer Neighbourhood Board entry on the Council’s website was removed after the members were recruited to it from the community, as all it then contained was old information. Though I gather there’s no agreement on what to replace it with as yet, officers have agreed that the meeting times and dates – and some background on the Board – are put up so it will at least have some public presence. It seems not many councils have much information about their Boards on their websites, but that doesn’t justify having nothing at all in my view.

    The ‘ensuring communities are more closely involved’ provision is also apparently met by having members of the community actually serve on the Board, but I know that seems a bit closed-shop. So hopefully by making more information available about when the meetings are and how people can get involved that will address this issue, at least in part.

  4. Concerned Harrovian

    Susan

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to find out about this board. Will they be providing details on how they are spending the £5,200 administration funding?

  5. Susan Hall

    I am on the board and I will ask that the Board becomes ‘more transparent’ not my call but I will do my best.

    I am furious at how transparency and scrutiny are clearly words that the Labour administration simply do not understand, or perhaps words that they chose not to understand……. Harrow residents deserve better

  6. PraxisReform

    @Susan Hall

    You don’t half talk some rubbish, a quick Google for “Safer Neighbourhood Board” shows that much of the rest of London has at least put up some minimal information about the subject, listed meetings and actually inviting residents along etc.

    So, I gather from the above replies that nobody could be bothered to start a website for Harrow’s version. But, perhaps you can tell us where the past meetings were publicised… I didn’t see any posters about or announcements in the local press, and I’ve had no leaflets about the matter come through my letterbox.

    Also, where are the minutes kept? Acting on Sonoo’s earlier advice, I’ve tried getting in touch with Cllr Parmar, but it seems that she can’t be bothered to respond to emails…

    Perhaps we need to get MOPAC involved to break up this secretive Freemason style clique you people have started.

  7. Susan Hall

    Praxis Reform – if you read my post you will understand that I am quoting directly from an Officer, the Officer responsible for the Board. We Conservatives are no longer in control as you well know. At least I tried to get an answer. Where are all the posts from Labour Councillors answering issues? Paul Boakes sent me an e mail at the same time as he sent Varsha Parmar one. I am constantly being told that she does not respond to e mails along with other Labour Counillors. I dont mind that people disagree with me but at least I do my best to communicate with you all. I am in the process of examining more re the board but its not so easy when you are not in charge. Perhaps I would be better advised to keep quiet, just like the Labour lot.

    1. iharrow.com

      …and I followed up on my original email six days later:

      Dear Cllr Parmar

      It’s been almost a week since my original email to you concerning the Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board, with which you are involved, and I note that you’ve failed to extend me the courtesy of a reply.

      Whilst I appreciate you may need to spend more than a moment or two on providing a response, could I remind you that you do, in fact, have a responsibility to residents of this borough, and that if, perhaps, you’re finding it impossible to fulfil those responsibilities that those very same residents have elected you to perform, that you might wish to consider other ways to use your time.

      I’ve already had a response from Cllr Hall who has established some of the facts, but your group is in administration, and I would like to have a response from the administration’s representative on the SNB. Perhaps also you could tell me what it’s funding has been spent on so far, because at the moment, I’m not seeing us getting any value for money from it.

      I look forward to your early reply.

      Regards
      Paul

      And did I get a reply? No, but I know she’s read it. And when. And how many times…

  8. PraxisReform

    Susan Hall – I read your post, and I’ve searched for information.

    I found that Safer Neighbourhood Boards are supposedly non-political organizations that come under the auspices of the GLA, rather than the local council. Yet Harrow’s is top heavy with two local councillors (one of which is your good self), two vice-chairmen, probably two chairmen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the other members were ex-councillors and their chums, all desperate for a fancy title rather than being interested in improving policing in the local area.

    However, as a politician, you know full well that Officers simply carry out day-to-day work under the direction of a board. Thus, as a board member it is shameful and unethical for you to blame Officers for your own failings and the boards lack of direction to the Officers.

    Kudos to you for putting your head above the parapet and telling us something (even if it isn’t that much), and I most definitely agree with you about the incompetence of certain Labour Councillors (though I could say the same about certain Conservative MPs), but this really isn’t a political matter. Thus, I don’t see how it takes more than two minutes for someone to attach a set of minutes to an email and write a paragraph saying the board advertised the group via an advert in the back of Exchange and Mart (or wherever else the notice of the meetings might have been put).

    Equally, I’m astonished that it seems nobody on this board has proposed a way to take suggestions and commentary from local residents, and communicate the boards ideas and resolutions back to us plebs, at the very first meeting they held!

    I won’t say say that residents were kept completely in the dark, because if that’s the case, then the entire board needs to be sacked for gross incompetence…

    Harrow residents now *urgently* need to know what sort of deals this mysterious organization is hammering out with the police, lest we find that these unelected bureaucrats are wasting money willy-nilly, signing away our privacy and secretly agreeing to increased police militarization, all behind out backs.

    I guess the crux of the matter is how do I got hold of the chairman of this wacky organization, so that I can give him or her a piece of my mind?

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