Jan 22 2013

Susan Says: Labour’s Plans to Leave Parks Unlocked ‘stupid’

susan_hall_150x150It has emerged that, hidden away in the depths of the draft budget of Harrow Council’s Labour administration, are plans to leave some the borough’s parks unlocked. The information emerged at a meeting of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, when the Leader of the Council and Finance portfolio holder were being quizzed on the details of the budget.

The Leader of the Council’s Conservative Group, Cllr. Susan Hall, was present at the meeting and was asking questions about savings in public realm services. Cllr. Hall said: “Labour’s cut-riddled budget gives away so little about what’s behind individual savings that we are having to go through it almost line by line. I asked questions about a saving labelled ‘returning parks to open space’ and, incredibly, it emerged this includes some of Labour’s plans to leave parks unlocked. How can Labour pretend to be transparent with residents when they wrap something so potentially damaging up as something so innocent-sounding?

From information I have since obtained, I can also reveal that Labour’s £673,000 ‘public realm service reduction’ – which Cllr. Phillip O’Dell refused to give me a breakdown of when I asked him about it at Cabinet – also includes a £70,000 review of park and cemetery locking and openings. I’m asking questions to find out exactly what the total savings are, and which parks and cemeteries are affected.”

Cllr. Hall added: “It would be an absolute disgrace if Labour went ahead with this decision. Leaving our parks unlocked – which are mostly unlit at night – makes them likely hotbeds for criminal behaviour and activity; particularly muggings, vandalism and assault-type crime. Harrow is a low-crime borough, and we want to keep it that way.”

Cllr. Hall concluded: “When a similar proposal was floated towards the end of 2006, Cllr. Bill Stephenson – then Leader of the Labour Group – called it ‘ill-conceived and stupid’. So for Labour to go ahead with these plans now wouldn’t just be dangerous – it would also be a fine example of rank hypocrisy.”

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