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Labour promises to 'listen to residents' in power in Harrow

LABOUR has pledged to put the development of Harrow town centre at the top of its agenda after being swept back into power after four years in opposition.

On a dramatic day of election results, the party gained ten seats, including two in Conservative stronghold Harrow-on-the-Hill, and seized the reigns of power on Harrow Council.

Councillor Bill Stephenson, leader of the Labour group and council leader-elect, initially admitted he was “shell-shocked” by the result, but has now turned his attention to running the council for the next four years.

He has promised to:

  • Reinstate the town centre and major project panel, which was scrapped under the Tories
  • Ditch the controversial Harrow Leisure Centre and Gayton Road redevelopments
  • Make helping Harrow's residents and business during the recession a corporate priority, an idea shunned by the Tories
  • Fix potholes, clean up the streets, and make Harrow a Fair Trade borough

Reinstating Sunday opening for Harrow Central Library Cllr Stephenson said: “We are obviously delighted but not triumphalist because there is a serious job to be done.

“We want to involve local people, and get things moving in the right direction.”

He puts the town centre and major project panel as central to shaping the future of development in the area, and promised cross-party dialogue and consultation with residents on the future of Harrow.

Labour has long campaigned in opposition for better leisure facilities in the borough, and Cllr Stephenson said now was “exactly the right time” to look at arts and performing spaces and entertainment venues as well as new homes.

He said: “It shouldn't all be residential in the town centre, and we want a balance of services, shops, and leisure facilities.

“This is the principle we are working from, and we promise to consult with residents on these things.”

His party is planning to scrap the Tory Harrow Leisure Centre and Gayton Road plans and start, proposing a combined library and arts centre on the Gayton Road site and looking at a new, and more expansive. leisure centre and function hall.

However, the leader-elect cautioned that although it should not be all doom and gloom, there are tough times ahead, and he is hoping but not expecting that the new Conservative-Lib Dem government will improve funding for outer London councils, including Harrow.

In a shot at the departing Conservatives, he labeled them “arrogant” for “failing to listen” to residents, and pledged to review areas such as controlled parking zones and the controversial Neighbourhood Champions Scheme – something Cllr Stephenson said he would not scrap but needed looking at again.

Cllr Stephenson will spend the next fortnight building his new cabinet ahead of a full council meeting, and has indicated he intends to hold the finance portfolio himself.

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