Councillor Barry Kendler (‘Local services being destroyed’, Your Views, August 14) writes that during the election voters told him “they want the highways repaired, the streets cleaned, the parks maintained and rogue private sector landlords dealt with”. If these are voters’ priorities, why has Labour announced plans to cut street cleaning?
As for the voters’ other priorities, a previous Labour administration turned our beautiful parks over to meadow, sought to remove the dog waste bins and wanted to stop locking park gates.
On dealing with rogue landlords, Cllr Kendler’s leader now publicly advocates a ‘voluntary’ register for private landlords rather than their manifesto’s compulsory scheme. If Cllr Kendler knows that these are the voters’ priorities and that Labour repeatedly does the opposite, we must ask whether he’s more motivated to serve his residents or his party.
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Cllr Kendler blames what he calls the coalition’s “vicious and excessive cuts”. Our Conservative administration found extra money for increased street cleaning, park maintenance and pothole repairs. How? By looking carefully at all the council’s expenditure. We axed the chief executive role, saving more than £1million over four years, while a previous Labour administration broke its promise not to privatise Harrow’s libraries, but then delayed the privatisation, costing local taxpayers more than £180,000.
Where Cllr Kendler is right is there has been a reduction in government grant since 2010, but that’s only down to 2004 funding levels. Did Cllr Kendler publicly attack the Blair/Brown Labour Governments for underfunding councils?
Lastly, Cllr Kendler bangs on about the ‘gearing ratio’ – the proportion of council spending from council tax to government grant – quoting an 18 per cent national figure rather than finding out Harrow’s 21 per cent figure.
However, Cllr Kendler spectacularly misses the point, ‘gearing’ doesn’t matter to taxpayers. What matters is the level of their bills. Thanks to Labour, Harrow’s taxpayers already face the third highest bills in London – yet, despite all their talk of a ‘cost of living crisis’, Cllr David Perry and Cllr Sachin Shah refuse to rule out council tax rises.
Cllr Barry Macleod-Cullinane
Con/Harrow on the Hill ward
Deputy leader of the Conservative group and finance spokesman