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

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  • 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
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Present failures in Harrow Council
11/10/12  updated 12/12/12

Latest
  • Now three Councillors have left the opposition Conservative Group on the Harrow Council since May 2010 -
    Sheinwald Apr11, Versallion May11, Akhtar Nov12 – all three departures appear to have been due to the Conservative leadership!
  • We understand that the leadership of the Harrow opposition Conservative group is likely to be challenged next year.
  • 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:

    • No shadow budget has been presented thereby denying residents alternatives to the financial decisions being taken by the administration - one reason for this has been that Councillor Romain, a former leader of the Conservatives in Harrow, a finance expert and forceful pleader for the shadow budget, has been unable to lead the debate on the Council finances 

    Cllr Susan Hall’s walk out from the previous Council Tax meeting, an action which her own party distanced itself from and which resulted in public comments like, “Her total contempt of the democratic process we lesser mortals cherish so dearly, is precisely what one has come to expect from her, ever since she has become opposition party leader in the Harrow”   (1)

    • A highly capable previous portfolio holder and Chairperson of the Planning Committee, Cllr Marilyn Ashton, appears to have little to do with what would be her area of expertise.  This is especially negligent in our opinion while there are challenging planning issues which need a high level of knowledge and expertise.  We are uncertain as to why she has been kept away from planning matters since her return to the Council although this may be due to a rift within the party (2)  

    • Two opposition councillors have left the Conservatives since May 2010 and both departures appear to have been due to the Conservative leader. One of them, Cllr Sheinwald who was previously the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, went as far to say, “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” (3)

    • Rather than positively commenting on the Council reports and suggesting improvements or amendments if necessary, in our opinion, Cllr Hall uses the opportunity to try and score political points.  This is especially true where relationships with other organizations are concerned.  A well respected Asian community leader Sonoo Malkani, chairman of the Harrow Police and Community Consultative Group (HPCCG) at the time, wrote on 11th  July 2011, “A devastating day for Harrow when a senior Councillor such as Cllr Hall receives a detailed and transparent explanation of the spends she expressed concerns over, from the HPCCG Chair, and says they are fine and then cynically proceeds instead, on the self-same evening, to present them in a manner which can only be described as thoroughly misleading  .... We feel very betrayed and let down and feel our trust has been violated brutally by the leader of the Tory party in Harrow. I feel particularly devastated after all the years we have worked together with her so well, while she was portfolio holder for Policing and environment. We cannot fathom her reasons on declaring war on us” (4) 

    The Assessment Sub-Committee of the Standards Committee  in its meeting on 27 September 2011 suggested that “Councillor Hall may benefit from training in media and interpersonal training and training in holding voluntary groups and public bodies to account” (5) 

    Cllr Hall’s attitude towards some communities in Harrow can hardly be described as ‘inclusive’ in our opinion.  Her widely reported “veiled opposition to the Hindu school” saying that the traffic situation will be absolute “nightmare” and claiming ‘localised gang and criminal activity’  in her letter describing the impact of the Hindu school on the locality(www.hcrj.org.uk)  were vilified as “scaremongering” by the London Assembly Member Councillor Navin Shah in the Asian Voice. (6)  The newspaper also reported that “Cllr Susan Hall’s objection, has led to a wide-spread anger amongst the Asians, especially the Hindu community living around Harrow for two to three generations”

    We could list numerous other examples but the point would be the same.  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.  

     (1)  http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9541589.Labour_councillors_slam_Conservatives_for_walking_out_of_council_meeting/?ref=mr and
          http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9542113.Labour_defends_budget_after_Conservatives_label_it_erratic/?ref=m

    (2) http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9168820.Deputy_leader_denies__civil_war__between_Tory_group_members/

    (3) Councillor Stanley Sheinwald leaves Tory party over row with leader Susan Hall   http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9016321.Councillor_leaves_Tory_party_over_row_with_leader/ 

    (4) Comments  http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9137376.Watchdog_under_fire_over__unacceptable__spending/  

    (5) paragraph (b) of the Decision in the Decision Notice (gov 008-039/ 442202) http://www.hcrj.org.uk/News%20Page%2021.html

    (6) 14-20 July 2012

    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. Regarding the work of the Councils, the HCJ takes the position that the quality of both the administration and opposition leadership is equally important in order to work together for the benefit of the residents, and the HCJ would not hesitate to point out any weaknesses in the leadership.

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