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Council reveals ‘flagship actions’ to improve Harrow but opposition slams plans as ‘nothing new’

Harrow Council has revealed its key priorities to improve the borough for residents over the next year.

It has announced a series of ‘flagship actions’ that it will deliver, which includes trialling a new customer service scheme, as well as plans for two new parks and a ‘pothole squad’ to fix the borough’s deteriorating roads. The opposition has slammed the actions as being ‘nothing new’.

Harrow Council set out its Corporate Plan for 2024/25 at a meeting last week (February 22). It outlines 30 flagship actions that it will undertake in order to deliver on its priorities of: putting residents first; making the borough clean and safe; and a place where those in need are supported.

Harrow’s Conservative leader, Cllr Paul Osborn, told the council that the administration is ‘on track’ to deliver the majority of last year’s 24 flagship actions, with those outstanding ‘likely to just be delayed by a few months’. The latest plan outlines ten actions within each of the three priority areas.

Cllr Osborn said: “The most important one is to launch a pilot customer service kiosk in one of our libraries. Over the years in Harrow, telephone lines have been switched off, face-to-face channels have been shut down, and residents find it really difficult to talk to anyone in the borough.”

He added: “We want to start to reverse that. We want to use new technology and our library network to try and deliver a much more approachable council.”

The council has also revealed plans for two new Green Flag accredited parks or open spaces, as well as doubling the number of electric vehicle charging points, making improvements to social care homes with renovations to kitchens and other parts of the properties, and buying 25 homes to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families in the borough.

Cllr Osborn said: “We are [also] looking at reducing antisocial behaviour in hotspot areas by having a series of ‘days and nights of action’ and we are looking at launching a pothole squad to take action against those people who are flytipping.”

The Corporate Plan sets out a council’s vision for both the administration and the borough, with the aim of ensuring its resources are managed effectively. Cllr Osborn has said he wants to make Harrow a place where residents are ‘proud to call home, feel safe and supported, and where communities flourish.”

However the plans have been slammed by the Labour opposition, who claim many of the actions are ‘nothing new, nor transformational’ and have simply been ‘rebranded’ for the latest announcement. Harrow Labour leader, Cllr David Perry, used the recent meeting to highlight ‘ten flagship inactions’ that the council ‘do not want residents to know’.

Cllr Perry accused the council of ‘putting residents last’ by breaking an election promise not to raise council tax, which is set to rise by 4.99 per cent – the maximum amount allowed without a referendum. He also suggested the borough is ‘getting dirtier’ due to a lack of investment in street cleaning and fly-tipping enforcement.

The opposition party claim that reducing street cleaning to once every four weeks in last year’s budget ‘has failed’ as complaints relating to the environment ‘have soared’ over the past year, with most relating to litter, fly-tipping and graffiti.

It also criticised the council for ‘targeting Harrow motorists’ by looking to hand out more fixed penalty notices, totalling £1.5m, through the introduction of additional school streets and issuing a greater number of fines using CCTV.

Cllr Perry said he ‘couldn’t support the recommendations’ of the corporate plan, however, it was adopted following majority approval by councillors at last week’s meeting.