19 April 2018

Our Seven Key Priorities for Harrow

Harrow Green Party have identified seven key priorities for the borough of Harrow, leading up to the local council elections of May 2018.  Read the Harrow Times article here.

1. Affordable and well planned housing

Harrow needs to have a coherent strategy to deal with accommodating its residents. Not only does the council need to provide fit for purpose houses and flats but also an infrastructure that can meet the needs of the residents, young and old. This includes enough affordable housing, schools, medical facilities, leisure facilities such as parks, shops and traffic management including parking. The Green Party would review all elements to ensure that the solutions chosen meet the needs of Harrow's residents. Specific examples to review include the proposed building project at Byron Park, which will reduce the amount of greenery in the only park in the Marlborough ward, as well as the development at the old Kodak site, with the impact on transport and air quality. We would also look to build more than the required minimum number of affordable homes. 

2. Protecting Harrow’s green spaces

The Green Party is committed to protecting our parks and green spaces from further commercial or residential development and is committed to opposing the development of Byron Quarter and the current proposals for a 25-metre wide flood relief ditch being cut through Byron Park, which would permanently scar the only green space in Wealdstone. As the population of Harrow grows, the need for places where people can go to play, exercise, relax or meet friends will become even more important. Our parks should be welcoming areas of tranquillity, with proper facilities, including public lavatories and recycling facilities, and with safe access from adjacent streets. We believe that all of our parks and open spaces should aspire to the Green Flag benchmark, not be seen as just another resource fit for commercial exploitation.

3. An effective waste management strategy

Other parties are either singing the praises or bemoaning the current state of Harrow's waste management including the use of wheelie bins and fly tipping. Harrow borough has dropped below previous highs of recycling. Harrow Green Party see the problems as being symptoms of a broken waste management strategy. The council and its residents need to better manage how waste is produced, collected and disposed of. We believe what is needed is a coherent approach that brings together various elements such as education and reductions in the costs of dealing with all our waste, including garden waste, with the aim of removing the extra charge for using brown bins. In addition, better waste management would reduce the weekend queues at the Forward Drive recycling centre, with the knock on benefits of easier access to the Leisure centre and surrounding areas, reduced air pollution and less vermin. 

4. A transport system that works and supports a healthier environment

There are growing concerns with regards to the numbers of cars driving in the borough, especially at rush hour. This causes long traffic jams along major roads and drivers resorting to using smaller roads to get around them. This has a knock on effect in terms of road safety.  For example the queues on Wealdstone High St force cars down Masons Ave and Byron Road. Badly placed speed bumps and either a lack of or inappropriately placed zebra crossings can lead to increased risks of people getting injured. These risks are increased further at the start and end of the school day, with badly parked vehicles. Not only are there risks of accidents but also increased air pollution from idling engines. Pedestrians are even at risk on the pavement, thanks to the increase in the amount of people cycling on the pavement. Air ambulances landing in Byron park is not a sight we want to see. Harrow Green party councillors will look to improve local public transport facilities to aid the move away from car ownership. Lifts at local tube stations such as Stanmore, will make the services more accessible. Our approach will look to resolve these issues, working with TFL to implement cost-effective solutions.  

5. A safe and happy borough to live and work in

 Our borough has been hit hard by the reductions in policing. Crime has become more visible, with a murder outside the old police station in Wealdstone and a machete attack at Harrow & Wealdstone station just being a couple of examples. Changes in the approach to local policing due partly to financial cuts imposed by central government are leading to a lack of visible policing. The proposed Tri-borough consolidation will lead to further reductions of Harrow's police infrastructure. In addition, a lack of 'bobbies on the beat' means a lack of understanding of local issues and slower response times, which all leads to a reduction in crimes being resolved. We want to work with the Met police and the Mayor of London to see officers dedicated to each ward in the borough, developing a more personal relationship with residents, allowing them to be more approachable. However, it is not just the police that can improve public safety, Transport for London can ensure that tube stations are manned for longer periods.   

6.  Prioritising mental health 

We recognize that there is a growing mental health crisis in the UK that costs the economy £105 billion per annum, with one in four adults experiencing mental health problems each year. People with severe or prolonged mental health problems also tend to have poorer physical health (living, on average 15-20 years fewer than people without), and far are more likely to spend a long time out of work or experience homelessness.  The Green Party would make better mental health a key priority for the Borough and its residents.

For example, as part of an integrated approach to physical and mental health and social care, we would seek smoother and more flexible pathways to mental health support as part of the 24/7 mental health service promised by central Government.  The current waiting time for referral to Talking Therapy in Harrow is a shocking 5-6 months. This must be reduced if we are to ensure timely and effective treatment.  We would also institute an audit of the 70 or so mental health services across the borough, in order to understand what is working well and what may need changing, sharing best practice and giving service users real and informed choice about their own care. We would continue to support and promote the work of valuable services across the Borough and listen to the concerns and needs of practitioners and service users alike. We would also seek to tackle the ongoing stigma attached to mental ill-health by reaching out to schools and community projects, as well as promoting awareness of the early signs of mental health problems among parents and carers.

7. Standing up for the rights of all people (including foreign nationals)

The Green Party has a clear position on keeping a strong relationship with the EU, post Brexit. However, there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen to EU nationals living in the UK. The Green Party is keen to see a second referendum that will give people the opportunity to either accept or reject the proposed solution(s) as to how things will work after we have left the EU. Harrow has one of the most diverse populations in the UK, leading to lots of benefits. What is apparently lacking is any way of supporting all the EU citizens living and working in the borough, who add to the vibrancy and culture of Harrow. We need to ensure that these people are fairly treated during and after Brexit processes are implemented. We need to remove the 'Hostile environment' that has been set up by the current government to deal with immigration. People adding value to Harrow must be supported and protected, no matter where they are from, as long as they are eligible to live in the borough.   


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