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Harrow councillor Phillip O'Dell's no-show as 50 jobs cut from his department 'appalling'
A councillor swapped attending a meeting where more than 50 jobs were cut from his department in favour of a central London awards ceremony last night.
Councillor Phillip O’Dell, cabinet member for environment and community safety at Harrow Council, was absent from last night’s cabinet meeting – instead going to the National Transport Awards at a hotel on the River Thames.
The borough was shortlisted for an award for 'excellence in walking' for its Mollison Way improvement project.
In his absence, the council pushed through plans to cut 53 mostly managerial posts under a part-merger of the highways, community safety and public realm departments – which run services such as road maintenance, licensing and street cleaning.
The Public Realm Integrated Services Model (PRISM), which includes axing four refuse vehicles, is predicted to save £1.85million in the next two years, although it could cost the council £1.15m in redundancy settlements as jobs are cut.
The proposals were sent back to the council’s cabinet after the UNISON union and members of a scrutiny committee decided there had been “insufficient consideration of legal advice”, but last night councillors decided to press ahead.
Conservative leader, Councillor Susan Hall, labelled Cllr O’Dell’s no-show at last night’s meeting “appalling” when jobs were being cut in his department.
She added: “His lack of involvement shows enormous contempt for both hardworking council staff and Harrow residents – who rely on public realm services every day.
“PRISM is the centrepiece of his department’s budget, and he couldn’t even be bothered to present it to cabinet or speak on it at call-in – sending a written statement instead.
“That he chose to attend a swanky awards dinner instead of seeing it through cabinet is a further sign of just how seriously he takes his responsibilities as portfolio holder. Harrow residents deserve so much better from portfolio holders than this.”
Harrow UNISON warned last week that the job cuts, part of the council’s battle to fill a £19 million hole in this year’s budget following massive reductions in central government funding, were “short-sighted” and would hit front-line services.
The Harrow Times is waiting for a response from Harrow Council.