A senior Harrow councillor held an inaugural Facebook live session on a community group page to answer members’ questions around council finances.

Cllr Adam Swersky, responsible for finance and emergency response, held the session last night (July 2) on #Fixit Harrow Network, a group with more than 5,000 members that seeks to raise awareness of key issues in the borough.

He faced a series of questions covering several topics including fly-tipping, cycle routes, workplace diversity and the council’s yearly budget.

On the subject of waste dumping, he described it as a “priority” for the council and one that “has been for many years”.

He urged residents to continue to report instances of fly-tipping via the council’s website and assured them that they are regularly investigated.

When challenged on the council’s commercialisation policies, he explained that “a whole range of services have generated income” for the council and that it tries to “focus on what it is good at”.

However, he admitted the process is “hard” as the “council is not a business”.

He added that he hopes to see income generated “in an appropriate way” from the council’s major regeneration schemes, including through new housing and the new civic centre.

He outlined the wider budget setting process, expressing frustration at repeated cuts to its central government grant.

“Seven years ago, we got around £51 million, now we’re on around £1 million,” he said.

“What could that £50 million pay for? Our library budget is £2 million, our entire children’s services is less than £50 million.

“It’s affected these valuable services that people are talking about – we’d love to invest more and not just provide the minimum.”

He explained that the situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has, at this stage, cost the council an estimated £44 million.

Where he could not provide an immediate answer, Cllr Swersky promised to look into the matter and come back with a more detailed response.

He added that he would be willing to hold similar sessions in the future – particularly during the uncertain times brought on by the coronavirus outbreak – and suggested other council cabinet members could take part.