4:19pm Wednesday 23rd January 2013
By Emma Innes
Harrow Borough Council has defended its proposal to stop locking some parks at night.
Yesterday the leader of Harrow’s Conservative group, Susan Hall, claimed that buried in the council’s draft budget was a proposal to leave some parks unlocked.
The council has defended this proposal, which will be voted on next month, by saying that many of the parks “simply do not need to be locked overnight”.
Harrow Borough Council's corporate director of environment and enterprise, Caroline Bruce, said: “Harrow is one of the safest and greenest places to live in London and our residents have 25 parks to choose from across the borough – many of which simply do not need to be locked overnight.
“Transforming some of our parks into open green spaces will mean residents can still enjoy spending time outside, but this will also allow us to reduce maintenance costs and deliver savings.
“This proposal has not been finalised and we will consult with residents further once the budget is approved in February.
“The economic climate is exceptionally challenging for local government and we must all find savings wherever we can to avoid unnecessary cuts.
“We are a modern low-cost council which continuously strives to make efficiency savings so we can keep delivering the services we know our residents care about most.”
Councillor Hall, however, is concerned that leaving the parks open would lead to an increase in crime.
She said: “Labour’s cut-riddled budget gives away so little about what’s behind individual savings that we are having to go through it almost line by line.
“I asked questions about a saving labelled ‘returning parks to open space’ and, incredibly, it emerged this includes some of Labour’s plans to leave parks unlocked.
“How can Labour pretend to be transparent with residents when they wrap something so potentially damaging up as something so innocent-sounding?”
Cllr. Hall added: “It would be an absolute disgrace if Labour went ahead with this decision.
“Leaving our parks unlocked – which are mostly unlit at night – makes them likely hotbeds for criminal behaviour and activity; particularly muggings, vandalism and assault-type crime.
“Harrow is a low-crime borough, and we want to keep it that way."
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