Oct 4 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
OPPONENTS of a controversial proposal to reduce the number of refuse collectors and waste lorries in Harrow have forced a review of the idea.
UNISON union and opposition Conservatives at Harrow Council challenged the Public Realm Integrated Services Management (PRISM) business case designed to change the way the environment team works by increasing the use of new technology, but with less staff.
The plans had been approved by the Labour-run authority’s cabinet committee on September 13, however, the council’s call-in sub-committee met on Monday to consider the validity of their arguments and decided to refer the project for reconsideration by same committee, making additional recommendations about the consultation process.
Steve Compton, assistance secretary of UNISON’s Harrow branch, said the council had given notice that 55 jobs – more than 10 per cent of the service’s workforce – were at risk through PRISM’s introduction.
“According to the council’s medium term financial strategy, the directorate is committed to save £1.5million,” he said. We understand that but our concern is that it will impact frontline services. They intend to remove four waste collection vehicles and 12 staff. They are saying they can provide the collections more efficiently.
“It is going to impact on residents. You would have carts out there at 10 at night and nobody wants to work 14 or 15 hour days in this job. They want staff to multi-task.”
Mr Compton said there were two grounds for call-in from the Conservatives and six from UNISON, of which three were accepted and that the call-in was upheld because the report to cabinet had not been signed off by the legal department as necessary.
Both UNISON and the Conservatives are unhappy portfolio holder for environment and community safety, Councillor Phillip O’Dell (Labour), was not present at the meetings on September 13, or Monday.
The council did not wish to comment until PRISM is reconsidered on Thursday, October 11 but said in a statement: “PRISM will bring together community safety services, highways, and public realm services, in a new and improved environmental service underpinned by innovative technology.
“The model will also bring environmental services closer to residents and local businesses by integrating the handheld technology with information provided by residents through the council’s one stop shop, website, and MyHarrow Account, an online account which enables residents to access council services.
“The financial benefits of the proposed model would bring savings of £1.8m by 2015 when the new structure goes live on April 5, 2013.”