Harrow Borough Council defends plans to cut street cleaning budget

Harrow Times: Cllr Susan Hall thinks the council is trying to "keep residents in the dark" Cllr Susan Hall thinks the council is trying to "keep residents in the dark"

Harrow Borough Council is claiming that cutting £200,000 from the street cleaning budget will make it “leaner and fitter”.

The council’s comments come after Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the Conservative group, said that the council had hidden plans to cut the frequency of residential street cleaning from once every four weeks to once every six weeks in its budget.

Cllr Hall said £116,000 will be cut through a reduction in non-town centre sweepers and a further £82,000 will come from cutting the cleaning of residential streets.

Harrow Borough Council’s portfolio holder for environment and community safety, Councillor Phillip O’Dell, said: “The council is facing an unprecedented financial situation not of our making.

“We are constantly looking at ways to modernise and transform the council during this very difficult financial climate so we not only improve services but deliver savings.

“Our vision for environmental services will not only make the council leaner and fitter – we will be increasing efficiency and delivering the best possible services by listening to and working with our residents.

“We are continuously thinking in new and innovative ways to secure the best value for money for taxpayers and we will do everything in our power to ensure the council is an organisation which is fit for purpose over the coming years.”

The cuts are part of the council’s draft budget, which is set to be approved later this month.

If agreed, the changes would come into force in April.

Cllr Hall said: “There are several issues here; the first being that Labour tried to keep residents in the dark about these cuts for as long as possible.

“The budget gives no details on what specific public realm services would be cut, and portfolio holder Cllr Phillip O’Dell refused to tell me when I asked him at cabinet in December.

“Labour have also blocked us seeing the relevant background papers until after the budget goes to council in late February. So they’ve tried every trick to keep these cuts a secret.”

She continued: “Secondly, for Labour to make this cut after the noise they made about street cleaning in the past is nothing short of appalling.

“In their manifesto they said ‘look around Harrow… shabby streets, not swept properly… neglect everywhere’, and they said this when our street cleaning had never been better – when many streets were cleaned every three weeks.

“Now they’re going to slash and burn at the budget which funds the very cleaning they claim to value so much.”
 

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