Harrow Council, led by the Conservative Party, have been accused of ‘breaking their election promise’ to freeze council tax by Harrow Labour Group.
In a press release sent to Harrow Online, Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr David Perry said: “Harrow Conservative Councillors have dealt a huge slap in the face to Harrow residents by breaking a key election pledge to freeze council tax, only to now increase the financial burden by 12% when the Borough is facing a cost-of-living crisis.
“I am deeply concerned that these savage cuts to vital support for our most at-risk vulnerable adults and children in Harrow will badly impact service users and their families.
“The Harrow Conservatives have decided to invest nearly £250k in more PR, Spin Doctors and political messaging at the Council whilst at the same time cutting huge numbers of social care workers demonstrates they have the wrong priorities at the wrong time.
”Having reviewed the budget documents, I fear local services are going to be left in a dangerous position as the mitigations identified in the savings proposals are weak in comparison to the significant risks identified.
”Residents will be alarmed to hear the Tories are targeting £3.5m in 50,000+ additional fixed penalty notices from local drivers through more enforcement officers and hidden CCTV is greedy”.
In response, the Conservative Party stated that they are not cutting frontline services in social care but instead targeting unnecessary layers of senior management to focus taxpayer’s money on supporting those most in need.
The party said they also have plans to focus on early intervention and use the various centres the council runs in a more proactive way to prevent problems from becoming harder and more expensive to deal with later.
“We inherited a budget with a £16 million gap for this year and have had to deal with inflation pressures of over £5 million. We have sought to minimise any reductions in services to residents. While we understand any increase in Council Tax is hard for residents but with inflation currently standing at 10%, even with the increase, this is real terms cut in Council Tax of 5%,” said the Harrow Conservative Party response.
They added: “Cllr Perry is being deliberately misleading to suggest that Council Tax is going up 12% in one year. This is simply not true. Any figures for future years can change depending on government support or other external factors, Cllr Perry should know this having previously been Leader of the Council. We will be working hard over the coming years to ensure that any future increases are as low as possible.”
Since winning last year’s local election, Harrow Conservatives have introduced one-hour free parking and have increased bulky waste disposal to 4 items collected once a year, free of charge for Harrow residents.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Osborn, said at the Council meeting: “In our election pledges we promised to try and freeze the Council Tax by the end of the Council’s 4-year electoral term. That is still my aspiration. It would also have helped if the last Labour administration had dealt with problems while they were in charge and not left a £16 million black hole when they left office.
“We are proud that we are going to improve the Council’s enforcement actions. For too long fly-tippers have been getting away with dumping rubbish in this borough.
“If Harrow Labour object to new cameras, they should be standing up to Mayor Khan’s plan to expand the ULEZ and put between up to 140 ULEZ enforcement cameras in Harrow alone.”
Despite the council’s explanation, Councillor Perry argues that the cuts to vital support for the most at-risk vulnerable adults and children in Harrow will badly impact service users and their families.
It remains to be seen how these changes will impact Harrow residents in the coming years.