Harrow Council for Justice
a campaigning national organisation - promoting the principle of 'different but equal'

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    Our positions
  • people are not blind to colour in a colour conscious society
  • racism affects black and white people both but differently
  • racial harassment is anti human rights - more than hate crime
  • equal opportunity is to practise 'different but equal'
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All communications to/ from HCJ are public.

Public  information
15 January 2013

The HCJ has updated its website which is now operating smoothly after defeating an attempt to interfere with the website.

The HCJ wishes to reiterate that in the interest of public welfare and because both a quality administration and a quality opposition at Harrow Council are necessary in running the council and serving the residents, the Harrow Council for Justice expects that:

(a) The Conservative opposition in Harrow would present an alternative budget
(b) The Conservative opposition in Harrow would have a new leader
, because the Conservatives under Cllr Hall are poor opposition in our opinion, failing in the most basic duties of a credible opposition ...  read more at www.hcrj.org.uk  or http://www.hcrj.org.uk/News%20Page%2031.html 

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Harrow specific public statement
1 December 2012

Belmont and West Harrow wards

Local newspapers report concerns about revamping the decaying Whitchurch Pavilion in Belmont ward and the expansion of Vaughan school in West Harrow ward.

Issue based Local political campaigns are worthwhile if these benefit people rather than the politics. The Harrow Council for Justice shares this public expectation.

The campaign against the Whitchurch Pavilion development which includes improving the playing fields at the site to provide more and better sports facilities is going on for some time.  Whilst the campaign, party led by someone who is also a member of the ‘Kenton East Conservatives action team’, appears to be gathering political points, significant opportunities have been missed to sit down with the appointed developer to work out what is best for the residents.

Similarly the ‘campaign’ in West Harrow is unnecessarily slowing down the progress in expending the Vaughan school where the school expansion has been rightly agreed by the school population. Many question whether this campaign against the Vaughan school expansion serves the interest of the parents and children?

As we have said before, the Conservative opposition under its present leadership is not healthy, in our opinion. The Cabinet meeting on 22 November 2012 is yet another example of this where we understand that serious matters like the Whitchurch Pavilion or the expansion of Vaughan school could not be attentively focused because of the unhealthy atmosphere which was more than the opposition challenging the administration.

However, it is good to understand that the present leadership of the opposition Conservative group is likely to be challenged next year.

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Public statement - 'passion' for Neighbourhood Champions
01 /11/12

So the Harrow opposition leader Councillor Susan Hall is critical that Labour missed the target to recruit Neighbourhood Champions. Let us contextualise the issue for the sake of fairness.

When Cllr Hall committed £100,000 in 2009 to fulfil her “passion” for the Neighbourhood Champions, the Daily Mail reported Army of 'citizen snoopers' recruited by council to spy on neighbours (9 /11/2009). The newspaper perceived the scheme this way despite being well known for keenly highlighting any anti-social behaviour, particularly in the minority groups.

Such a public imagery has been supported by the fact that the Neighbourhood Champions remain anonymous. This obviously makes the scheme less transparent – for example, not knowing who is reporting on whom in this diversity-rich borough.

Furthermore, those who came forward for this rather controversial role (roughly a quarter of those who backed the scheme in Harrow), soon found out that the authorities lack resources to adequately and effectively deal with what they report. For example, if the champions report one case each per month to the Council, the Council has no real capacity to deal with such a volume of reported cases. This causes significant frustration and the situation is less likely to improve in the face of decreasing resources because of the tight financial conditions.

Given all that, the shortage of volunteers remains a realistic outcome but of course Cllr Hall has to score a wasteful political point as usual.

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Present failures in Harrow Council 11/10/12

The HCJ takes the position that both a quality administration and a quality opposition at Harrow Council are necessary in running the council and serving the residents.

The opposition should work as a critical friend, assisting the administration whenever possible and suggesting healthy alternatives whenever necessary. This role should be always fulfilled calmly and assuredly and with vigorous debate if required, but always with a view to cultivating an atmosphere that is conducive to working together – all in the interest of effectively serving the community. 

In our opinion, the leader of the Conservative opposition Councillor Susan Hall has failed to exhibit any of the above requisites and we are concerned, like many others in the borough, that opportunities to benefit Harrow residents are being wasted as a result of these deficiencies.

We have continued to monitor and report on the performance of the present leader of the Conservative opposition in Harrow Council and our findings clearly show how unhelpful her approach has been to community matters ... The Conservatives under Cllr Hall are poor in our opinion, failing in the most basic duties of a credible opposition and, worse, eschewing the best instincts of such an opposition for the temporal glare of the local media with a view to self-promotion of a single person..... read more

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Public statement: Leader of the Harrow Council Councillor Bill Stephenson is stepping down
26 September 2012

Some of us in HCJ have known Bill since early 1990s. He is a softly spoken gentleman with no confrontational attitudes at all. He is calm and tolerant even in the situations like the opposition leader Councillor Susan Hall’s arrogant walkout from a Council meeting which even her side had distanced from.

Like the previous leader of the Council, Bill has good leadership qualities – for example, he is not vindictive as is confirmed by the fact that one of his Cabinet members who abstained from voting on a crucial move by his group at a Council meeting is still in place.

He is not an opportunist as confirmed by the fact that he never made a political meal out of the fact that two opposition councillors left the Conservative group since May 2010, raising fingers towards their group’s leadership. One (Cllr Sheinwald) went as far as saying, “When you have a good councillor you should look after them and she (Cllr Hall) just doesn't know how to look after people” and added “I want everyone to understand I'm not in it for an ego trip or to be promoted to a GLA member or an MP”: the Harrow Times 9th May 2011.

Similarly Bill never cashed in on the reported “civil war going on in that party” which was going on because of the Conservative group leadership’s interesting position regarding the Stanmore by-election candidacy.

 

We respect Bill’s honest and sincere decision to step down because of his given reasons and wish him well.

 

Dr Pravin Shah
Legal & General Secretary

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Public statement re Government gives final approval to £320m regeneration of Kodak site in Wealdstone
17 September 2012

Early results of the Census 2011 indicate a significant change in the socio-cultural profile of Harrow. It is rather unfortunate that the Kodak development has been perceived well before the full results of the Census are known!

Hope the Council would ensure that this crucial development is in the interest of and caters for the needs and aspiration of all Harrow residents, including those in Wealdstone area - the area which has a high level of diversity as well as deprivation and which the leader of the opposition Conservative group Councillor Susan Hall claims has ‘localised gang and criminal activity’, in her letter describing the impact of the Hindu school on the locality (‘New free school will be nightmare’: Harrow Times June 14, 2012)
also see  http://www.hcrj.org.uk  ;  http://www.hcrj.org.uk/News%20Page%2018.html and http://issuu.com/abpl/docs/av_14july2012?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage

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Public statement
18 July 2012

The Harrow Council for Justice wishes to thank those who have thanked HCJ for successfully exposing the veiled opposition to the Hindu school in Harrow.

We note from the letter pages of the newspapers that the leader of the opposition Conservative group Councillor Susan Hall is trying to defend her indefensible veiled opposition to the Hindu school which is to start at the Teachers Centre in September this year.

Cllr Hall who previously said that the Hindu school at the Teachers Centre will make the traffic situation an absolute “nightmare”, is now saying that her concerns are for the safety for potential pupils and teachers because of the ‘crime and gangs’ in the area.

Harrow’s Core Strategy (CS) and Area Action Plan (AAP) have designated the Teachers Centre site for a new school. There is no evidence that Cllr Hall voted against CS or AAP or raised any concerns regarding the safety matters in the locality at the Council meetings. Why the wake-up call now!

Also, Cllr Hall should know that Whitefriars Community School,  Salvatorian College and Sacred Heart college are happily working in the locality without suffering from what Cllr Hall describes as the ‘local criminality’.  Is Cllr Susan Hall implying that the Teachers Centre location is somehow ‘no go’ area for Hindus?

It is shameful that Cllr Susan Hall is scaremongering and in the process scaring the potential parents of the school by propagating negative imagery of the local area and communities.

Also: www.hcrj.org.uk

Issued by Dr Pravin Shah, Legal & General Secretary HCJ, on behalf of the HCJ   

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Public information
11 July 2012

“Cllr Susan Hall’s objection, has led to a wide-spread anger amongst the Asians, especially the Hindu community living around for two to three generations”, reports Asian Voice.

Regarding the location of the school at the Harrow Teachers Centre, Councillor Hall reportedly said, “I am terribly concerned about the location because there’s going to be poor access to the school making the traffic situation an absolute nightmare”.

The Teachers Centre is earmarked for a new school by the Council as Cllr Navin Shah, Brent & Harrow London Assembly Member, informed (in the same news article), “Harrow’s Core Strategy and Area Action Plan have designated the Teachers Centre site for free school use such as the one promoted (Hindu school)”.

“It is shameful that Cllr Susan Hall is scaremongering”, Cllr Navin Shah said.

Former Councillor (Conservative) Anjana Patel posed the question, “No matter what school is accommodated there (Teachers Centre), impact is going to be the same. Then why a Hindu school should be a matter of concern?”

Full story at http://issuu.com/abpl/docs/av_14july2012?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage

In the letter pages of the same edition, Mr Gandhi in supporting the HCJ’s call for an apology, hoped that “Cllr Hall will realise that her views are neither constructive nor in the best interest of her party. I hope she will be humble enough to apologise to the Hindu community”.

Also: www.hcrj.org.uk

Issued by Dr Pravin Shah, Legal & General Secretary HCJ on behalf of the Harrow Council for Justice

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Public statement
5 July 2012

 “Councillor Susan Hall is under fire for her comments made in the Harrow Times” - read more at  www.hcrj.org.uk

 Issued by Dr Pravin Shah, Legal & General Secretary HCJ on behalf of the HCJ

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8 July 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8137408.stm

Following what the prime minister told MPs on 29 June that he wanted to allow councils to give additional preference to locals, the guidance to the councils would change so that local people get priority for social housing in England.

 

The Harrow Council for Justice is very concerned that this can be seen as a win for the British National Party campaign which claims that British people are being short-changed for housing in favour of newly arrived immigrants.

 

In this instance, the Harrow council for justice concurs with the Conservatives evaluation that the government measure “would be illegal under existing law and the forthcoming Equality Bill”.

 

Issued by

Harrow Council for Justice

 

Note: councils can take into account length of residence and family links when choosing between applicants within the preference groups.  Nationally, just 11% of new arrivals get help with housing - almost all of them asylum seekers.

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Public statement re 'opposition role' - issued 7 January 2011

From a public point of view, the administration and opposition are equally important in running a council. This is the reason why all members of a council are paid equal basic allowance.

Therefore, the opposition can not be just to score points or to watch the administration fail but to come out with positive alternatives to serve the residents better and more effectively. 

While it is quite possible to assess the quality of the administration’s work and measure their effectiveness, there are hardly any structured means to hold the opposition to account in between the elections. This from the democratic and cost effective point is very odd! To address such an anomaly, it may help if the public and media press the opposition to demonstrate their efforts, rigour and effectiveness in improving the work of the council and therefore the quality of the council’s services to the residents.

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To the elected and community representatives

Following Philip Davies MP’s reported comment that some with a learning disability clearly, by definition, can't be as productive in their work as somebody who hasn't got a disability of that nature, the Harrow Council for Justice in a strongly worded letter has pointed out to him that many people with the disability are perfectly capable of performing very ably in a wide range of professions.

The Harrow Council for Justice condemns stigmatising people with learning disabilities and mental health problems by forcing them to work for wages that are illegal for everyone else.

The HCJ strongly believes that people with disabilities might have different needs but have equal rights to be treated fairly like others in the work situations - disabilities do not always equal wheelchairs and many are invisible to the naked eye.

Millions of people living with disabilities in the United Kingdom already face countless ingrained prejudices in the working world.  The employment rates of disabled adults are very low with only around 50% employed compared to 79% of non-disabled adults. And when disabled people are employed, they are significantly more likely than non-disabled people to work part-time.

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice

21 June 2011 13:02

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Community lettings - Harrow setting

 

For the attention of the elected and community representatives

 

The review of council support through community premises and community lettings before the Cabinet meeting on 19 Mar 2011 recommends that the council’s current community letting service ceases to enable direct bookings with schools for voluntary organisations seeking the school accommodation hire.

 

The 80% concession on hire charges over the years which is now only 50%, will be removed if direct booking is decided. This would hit the community user groups hardest as the grants to the voluntary community organisations, particularly the diversity-specific user groups, have been drastically cut.

 

We note that Harrow has now received the 3rd best financial settlement in London and the 23rd best in the whole country. Harrow also received £1 million more than that they expected overall, yet still they choose to cut the voluntary sector which has serious implications for the services to the community, especially to the diverse communities who have different but equally important cultural or language needs.

 

We appreciate that the recommendation is based on the views gleaned through some consultation, but we also understand the argument that the dynamics of scarce resources lead to rivalry amongst and conflicting views from different type of the organisations which responded to the council-developed ‘consultation’.

 

Therefore, the Harrow Council for Justice supports the concerns expressed by the voluntary community organisations regarding the serious implications of the recommendation generally and for the ‘ethnic minority’ communities particularly.

 

The Harrow Council’s own equalities impact assessment has identified a “potentially differential impact” on the ethnic minority communities as many of the community lettings user groups provide minority specific cultural and educational services, using the school accommodation.

 

If the recommendation is agreed, the school premises could be hired for community use out of school hours at a scale of charges set by the governing body and reviewed annually.  It would be entirely up to the schools to provide or not to provide a concessionary rate for non-profit-making activities of community groups.

 

Whilst the Harrow Council for Justice considers it helpful for the schools to manage their lettings, we are not in favour of the schools deciding and implementing their letting charges.

 

If the Harrow Council really believes in equalities, then the Cabinet must reject the recommendation and maintain the current concessionary letting rates for the community organisations, particularly those in the forefront of providing cultural and language based classes at the school premises.

 

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice
www.hcrj.org.uk

May 2011

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Harrow setting

 

For the attention of the elected and community representatives

 

As a result of our as well as others timely intervention*, the report ‘review of council support through community premises and community letting’s before the Cabinet meeting on

19 March 2011, has now been withdrawn for re-evaluation. http://hcrj.org.uk/News%20Page%2013.html

 

The report recommended that the council’s current community letting service ceases to enable direct bookings with schools for voluntary organisations seeking the school accommodation hire.

 

The recommendation, if agreed, would have resulted in a situation where the school premises could have been hired for community use out of school hours at a scale of charges set by the governing body and reviewed annually, giving control to the schools to provide or not to provide a concessionary rate for non-profit-making activities of community groups.

 

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice
www.hcrj.org.uk

May 2011

 

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Public information

 

 

For the elected representatives and community leaders

 

Bad news travels fast but not the good news! With this in view, the Harrow Council for Justice often focuses on success stories:  this time it is about a primary school in Harrow that outshines in the league table of the primary schools …….. to read more, please click or copy/ paste the link below:

http://www.hcrj.org.uk/News%20Page%2011.html

 

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice
www.hcj.org.uk

 

14 January 2011 17:08

 

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Public statement


Happy New Year

From a public point of view, the administration and opposition are equally important in running a council. This is the reason why all members of the council are paid equal basic allowance.

Therefore, the opposition can not be just to score points or to facilitate the administration to fail but to come out with positive alternatives to serve the residents better and more effectively.  

While it is possible to assess the quality of the administration’s work and measure their effectiveness in many ways, there are hardly any structured means to hold the opposition to account in between the elections. This from the democratic and cost effective point is very odd! To address such an anomaly, it may help if public and media can press the opposition to demonstrate their efforts and rigour in improving the work of the council and therefore the services to the residents.

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice
www.hcrj.org.uk

06 January 2011 18:06

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For the elected representatives and community leaders

 

The Harrow Council for Justice supports the town twinning because the twinning is a declaration to acknowledge and value others in different parts of the world. The HCJ appreciates the tight financial atmosphere at present and therefore wishes for a simple and healthy exchange of different but equally important experiences in the most appropriate and cost-effective ways.

Harrow’s situation.

 

Given the possibilities of imaginative twinning with minimum resource implication, it is odd that while many councils are widening up their socio-cultural links with the outside world through a variety of initiatives, Harrow has limited links and is primarily relying on ‘Harrow in Europe’ where the main interaction of this council-funded organisation seems to be with France.

 

Despite this, there seems to be no objection to retaining the present twinning arrangements but there is a strong case to evaluate their effectiveness as well as to assess whether it would be more beneficial to widen up Harrow’s civic links with equally diverse towns in other countries by having multiple active links through further arrangements, using modern means such as the Internet or other available communal resources to help any visits or visitors.

 

Like in other parts of the country, celebrating and encouraging wider international links can be a significant advantage, both to the harmony of the borough and its future socio-cultural and economic developments.

 

As the democratic process progresses, no doubt there will be differing views about the nature of the twinning but such expressions need not project further negative imagery of the people or places concerned.

 

Issued by
Harrow Council for Justice
www.hcrj.org.uk  

 

20 November 2010

The HCJ is not under the influence of any political party nor it is in the business of promoting councillors or other elected representatives but it shares its analysis of socio-political and economic situations with voters to help them to make well informed democratic choices.

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