The outgoing Mayor of Harrow has called for the voluntary sector to be prioritised as he sees it as key to the borough's future.

Cllr Krishna Suresh, who leaves the post next month, said with the current financial climate faced by Harrow Council volunteers are to become more important to ensure the borough maintains a safe and clean environment.

He said as mayor he had sought to recognise the dedication and work of community volunteers, but more would be needed as cuts to the council's budget come into effect.

Cllr Suresh said: "I have tried to encourage more people to join, as a volunteer you don't get anything other than recognition. Volunteering is our future."

He continued: "In the current climate you have to look after yourself. The spending cuts are affecting us all down to the community level and voluntary sector. All local government is struggling.

"For example we could talk about parks appointments, we wanted to find people to open and close parks in the borough but it is currently difficult to do that so we are in the business of finding volunteers that can come forward and contribute to their area and environment.

"There are so many things for people to do."

Cllr Suresh also said Harrow library service is also benefitting from the help of volunteers after "a lack of funding to employ people in libraries".

Speaking of what he thought should be Harrow's priorities going forward, he said: "The voluntary sector in Harrow needs more attention and constant monitoring and training.

"The younger generation need to be motivated, that doesn't just mean education at an academic level but we have an arts centre here that can be used for extra curricular activities such as music and drama.

"We need to use these venues and promote shared community level arts involvement. Sports too, which is also a great way of linking up with other boroughs."

During his term in office Cllr Suresh said he ensured every high street in the borough had a festive lights display, that old and tired benches were replaced and had banned smoking in children's play areas.

He has also taken great pride in representing Harrow and London at international events in India and Sri Lanka.

Nearly £10,000 has been raised for the mayor's two charities, Harrow Association for Disabled People - which he chose after watching his brother battle after contracting polio - and Harrow Young Musicians.