During a heated discussion at the Harrow full council meeting this week, Leader of the Harrow Labour Party, Cllr David Perry, clashed with Conservative Councillor Anjana Patel, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Infrastructure, and Community Safety.
The debate revolved around the council’s proposed community safety strategy, prompting opposition from the Labour Party.
The draft Community Safety Strategy is Harrow’s comprehensive plan to enhance safety and security within the borough. Recognising Harrow’s status as one of the safest areas in London, the strategy acknowledges the importance of addressing residents’ feelings of safety. Initiatives like the Harrow Safer Spaces survey and measures against illegal activities aim to improve public spaces and uphold law and order.
Cllr Anjana Patel defended the proposed strategy, stating, “Please bring this community safety strategy to the full council meeting, a new three-year community strategy that aligns with this administration’s key priority of a borough that is clean and safe.”
Cllr Patel outlined the strategy’s evidence-based approach and extensive consultations with community partners. She highlighted six key priorities, including addressing violence against women and girls, reducing burglary, motor vehicle crime, robbery, drug-related offenses, hate crime, and antisocial behavior.
Cllr Patel mentioned recent homicides in Harrow, going on to say, “We are ensuring that police partners are making community reassurance a key priority for residents, including increasing street patrols and supporting specific meetings through the borough superintendent and the police senior leadership team.”
Cllr David Perry raised concerns about the funding and questioned the strategy’s effectiveness, stating, “My concern is around some of the priorities. Is this a priority for you guys? You’ve not demonstrated by putting money where your mouth is.” Perry criticised the absence of specific performance metrics, emphasising the need for clear goals.
He also expressed worries about the impact of political rhetoric on community engagement efforts, stating, “We’ve seen nationally and also locally, conservative politicians alienating communities. I think sometimes rhetoric matters, and again, I don’t think that helps from your side as well.”
Cllr Perry challenged the effectiveness of proposed interventions, arguing, “How do you know if your interventions are working? So, performance data might be interesting for another question, leader, but in a natural strategy where it matters, you don’t know what you’re going unless you start that out at the start.”
Despite Councillor Patel’s defense, Perry remained unconvinced, stating, “For that reason, Mr. Mayor, I think we will be opposing the strategy tonight.”