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Posts Tagged ‘Harrow council’

Labour swept back to victory on Harrow council this week, overturning the Conservatives majority with a ten seat gain.

 But what do the results mean for all the different parties? Who were the winners and who were the losers of the local elections this year?

 Labour:

With their eye on defending the constituency seats (which saw mixed results for them as  Tony McNulty lost his seat) it seems the party weren’t expecting to storm back to power and certainly not quite so decisively.

Councillor Bill Stephenson claimed he was ‘shell shocked’ about the result.

 There were big wins across the borough for the party, including a clean sweep of seats in Queensbury and West Harrow.

 Conservatives:

While a good day for the party nationally, they lost their majority, including forfeiting seats in Rayners Lane and typically blue Harrow-on-the-Hill, where two Labour candidates made it on to the council.

 Notable casualties include Kenton West’s Jeremy Zeid (who had a razor thin majority of six votes to defend) and Headstone North’s Eric Silver. This election also marked the end of an era as former council leader and 2005 parliamentary candidate David Ashton and his wife Marilyn, who held the Stanmore Park ward, both stepped down.

 Stanmore Park remains a wholly Conservative ward.

 Lib Dems:

It seems the Clegg effect didn’t do much for Harrow. Nahid Boethe and Chris Noyce both came third in the constituency votes, but the party only managed one seats on the council.

 Independents:

Independent candidate, James Bond, managed a not unsurprising victory and ousted Mayor Eric Silver.

Bill Stephenson: Elected on to council in is likely to become the next council leader, to be voted on by cabinet next month.

 You:

Largely because the local and general elections coincided, turnout was up this year, meaning more people in Harrow had their say. Whatever you think of the result, that is an undoubtedly positive outcome.

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Labour has indeed taken back the majority on the council, with Bill Stephenson expected to be chosen as leader next month.

Results:

Labour – 34 (+10)
Conservatives – 27 (-8)
Lib Dems – 1 (-1)
Independent – 1 (-1)

Further election analysis to follow shortly.

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The end of the day has brought better news for Harrow Labour, as it appears they have taken back the majority on the council.

After the news that Tony McNulty lost his seat to Bob Blackman, the Harrow Times is reporting that Conservatives have not enjoyed the same success in the local elections.

A recount is currently going on but it seems Labour are in the lead with 31 seats to The Conservatives 27.

This will remove the majority the party won four years ago, with council stalwarts like Eric Silver set to lose power.

Former Harrow council leader David Ashton had retired at this election.

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Harrow now has 12 council staff earning more than £100,000.

Despite the economic crisis of recent years, the number of top earners in the borough has actually risen by ten since 2003.

One lucky council worker even earns £150,000, the same as the prime minister’s salary, a wage not paid to anybody in the council five years ago.

Figures revealed by the Sunday Times show Harrow falls at a respectable 45th place in the list of 66 councils paying such high wages.

The worst culprit is Kent council, where three members of staff earn more than the prime minister and 41 earn above £150,000

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There could be dark days ahead for Harrow after it emerges the council has abandoned plans to improve street lighting in the area. 

The Conservative run Harrow council is the only one in the country to have pulled out of the private finance initiative (PFI) scheme to upgrade street lighting, despite the £32 million allocated for the project.

The then Labour run council applied for the funding more than three years ago, but the current council have decided to scrap it saying it was ‘irresponsible’ because of the credit crunch.

Deputy leader Councillor Susan Hall said it was:

“Irresponsible of us to commit to £1 million a year over 25 years – a key condition of the PFI contract – given the unprecedented financial pressures on us caused by the credit crunch.”

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The deputy leader of Harrow council has reiterated her warnings about low grit supplies, ahead of what is forecast to be a snowy weekend.

As Stanmore Politics reported yesterday Councillor Susan Hall told residents at a public meeting that “if the weather gets worse we could be in real trouble. If we have a bad week we will be out of salt completely.”

Today in the Daily Express she said the situation was “deeply worrying,” and that the 2,000 tons of slat the council ordered in December had still not arrived.

“Waiting for our salt to come is on a par with waiting for Billy Bunter’s postal order, only with marginally less chance of success.”

 “We are conserving our supplies carefully and will have to eke it out as there appears scant chance of any fresh stock arriving.”

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The outgoing conservative leader of Harrow council heaped praise on the turnaround in the borough over the past three years.

Councillor David Ashton, who is retiring before the next election, reminded residents at a public question time that the Conservative cabinet had overseen the first council tax freeze in 16 years.

 “In 2006 Harrow was the second worst council in London. We had a budget blackhole of and inadequate services,” he said at a public question time on Tuesday.

“We have greatly improved. We are a three star council with reserves of just under £7 million.”

 He said Harrow was entering a difficult period, and that they were expecting a real cash reduction in the coming years, because the council grant would effectively be £2 million less than in 2008/9.

But he was not completely negative about the future.

“We are not complacent but we are pleased. This year we have a balanced budget but in the future we are going to need some radical solutions.”

 One resident pointed out the convenience of a tax freeze during a council election year, and queried whether the money was needed for services like road repairs. But Councillor Ashton said “at some stage, enough is enough.”

 However he said a reduction is council tax was very unlikely.

“Reducing council tax is a very difficult thing to do unless it is a cosmetic reduction. Unless there is a massive change in the grant from central government this is highly unlikely.”

 At the event on Tuesday evening at Harrow Arts centre, deputy leader Councillor Susan Hall outlined plans to include provisions against dangerous dogs in tenancy agreements. She said that while people know the punishment for being caught with a knife, being caught keeping status dogs should carry more of a threat to owners.

Although she said that status dogs were not a problem in Harrow, she said they were consulting with the RSPCA on the matter.

During the evening, residents questioned planning portfolio-holder Councillor Marilyn Ashton about removing the parking charge for the first 20 minutes, in order to boost the trade of smaller shopkeepers.

“It’s so important to maintain the vitality of our local shops,” she said. “We would really love to be able to afford to have the first 20 minutes free. But if you allow just any parking on the road it gets parked up all day. If we could afford it I assure you we would.”

She said that the Sainsburys supermarket had been an asset to Stanmore. “Shopkeepers have benefited from having an anchor store. People park there a go to get their hair cut and do other things. It doesn’t take business away.”

Later, she added: “There is scope for very big improvement and regeneration in Stanmore”.

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