New sponsorship scheme for street trees

Residents are being invited to sponsor trees in local streets as part of a scheme supported by Harrow Council.

Under the Harrow – Sponsor a Street Tree scheme, families can pay for a tree to be planted near their home.

Residents can choose where the tree will be planted – as long as the location is suitable – and will be encouraged to look after their tree.

The cost of sponsoring a tree is £195 if you take on the job of watering it.

Or you can make a sponsorship donation of £295, which means Harrow Council will water the tree.

The sponsorship package includes a 3-4 metre staked tree with a wire mesh tree protector.

Council launches consultation on first news flats at Civic Centre site

Harrow Council is to consult residents on plans to build 42 new homes on the site of a council car park and offices as part of a major redevelopment of the Civic Centre.

The proposals – which are due to be unveiled in full next week – will see flats built on the site of council car park on Milton Road and the Civic 9 building on the corner of Station Road.

A leaflet sent to residents said the site was set for a ‘radical transformation’ that would involve the creation of ’42 high quality affordable homes’ as well as ‘pleasant green space’.

The development is the first phase of a plan to build at least 400 new homes on the  Civic Centre site with the council moving to new offices in Wealdstone.

The council said it would start to discuss plans for the rest of the site – which has been renamed Poets Corner – with the local community next year.

Members of the public will be able to view the Milton Road plans and share their views online from Monday, August 2

The council is also hosting a drop-in consultation event at Milton Road car park – also known as Car Park A – on Thursday, August 12. The event will take place from 3pm to 8pm.

The aim is to submit a formal planning application later this year.

Warning about Covid vaccine scams

Greenhill ward residents have been warned by neighbourhood police to be on the lookout for Covid-19 vaccine scams.

Criminals have been taking advantage of the pandemic to con people keen to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

Scams include text messages asking people if they want the vaccine, phone calls requesting money or bank details and fraudsters knocking on doors pretending to be from the NHS.

The coronavirus vaccine – which is free of charge – is only available from the NHS and residents may be contacted by the NHS, their employer, a GP surgery or a local pharmacy about getting the jab.

Recipients will never be asked to pay or to provide bank or card details, passwords or PIN numbers.

The NHS would never arrive unannounced at someone’s home to administer the vaccine or ask people to prove their identity by sending copies of personal documents like a passport or driving licence.

Click on this link for more information and guidance on how to avoid Covid-19 scams.

 

Free Covid-19 tests available in Harrow town centre

Harrow residents are being invited to book free Covid-19 tests at a new testing facility at St Anns Shopping Centre.

The rapid lateral flow tests are available to people aged over 16 who do not have symptoms of the virus and can be booked online at harrow.gov.uk/test

The tests take a few minutes to be administered with results sent to your phone or email address.

People who do have symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate at home and arrange a test via www.nhs.uk or by calling 119.

More testing sites are due to open across the borough.

Community garden brought back to life with new plants

A stunning new planting scheme has helped bring HCRA’s community garden back to life after it was vandalised last year.

A small team of volunteers braved the pouring rain on Saturday, October 31, to plant up the garden with an array of new flowers.

The restoration of the garden has been made possible thanks to grants from the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, Harrow Council and Harrow Central Mosque.

The planting day was the second phase of the restoration by volunteers from HCRA and Harrow Central Mosque.

This time round the team was limited to no more than six people due to Covid-19 restrictions. Helpers followed social distancing rules.

The new plants added the finishing touch to the project which has also involved re-painting the wooden garden beds and topping them up with compost and mulch.

 

Volunteers’ joy at funding for community garden

Volunteers from HCRA say they are ‘delighted’ after being awarded a £500 grant to help restore the community garden.

The grant, from the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, will enable the association to finish work to repair the garden after it was vandalised in December last year.

Earlier this year a team from HCRA and Harrow Central Mosque completed the first phase of work on the garden which involved topping up the beds with compost and a thick layer of mulch.

The new funding will help pay for plants to replace those that were dug up and destroyed.

Jo Stephenson, who chairs HCRA’s gardening group, said the money would make all the difference.

“We are delighted that the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association has recognised the importance of the garden to the local community and awarded us funding to help restore it to its former glory,’ she said.

‘We are hugely grateful for their support and the support of everyone else who has worked so hard to save the garden.’

Efforts to restore the garden have also been supported by a £600 grant from Harrow Council and funding from Harrow Central Mosque.

Further work on the garden will be carried out with appropriate social distancing and safety measures in place in line with government guidance on Covid-19.

New booking system at dump

Harrow Council has introduced a booking system at the town down in a bid to avoid long queues.

From Monday, June 29, residents can only dispose of rubbish at the recycling centre in Forward Drive if they have booked a slot.

The council said the new system has been introduced to prevent long waiting times and queues into the facility, which were affecting nearby homes and businesses.

It is open to Harrow residents only who must bring a valid ID and their booking confirmation with them.

Anyone who arrives without an appointment will be turned away, the council has warned.

As well as booking a slot, those wishing to offload junk at the dump have been told to sort their waste before they arrive.

Only six spaces will be available at any one time to enable social distancing.

You can book your slots online here.

Mosque withdraws application for call to prayer

Harrow Central Mosque has withdrawn its application to broadcast the call to prayer following significant easing of lockdown restrictions.

Mosque leaders had applied to Harrow Council for permission to broadcast the call to prayer every Friday for three months.

The move was part of a initiative designed to reach out to people of all faiths during the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to reduce isolation.

However, the plan to broadcast the call to prayer proved controversial with strong support for the idea in some quarters and fierce opposition in others.

The mosque has now formally withdrawn the application as the number of Covid-19 cases continue to fall and restrictions on people’s movements are lifted.

During lockdown the mosque has moved many of its activities – including worship and classes – online.

This has included participating in an online initiative alongside local churches and other organisations that has seen the call to prayer streamed live on Fridays at 6pm.

It will continue to take part in this project until it finishes at the end of June.

While some churches and other places of worship have started to re-open, mosque leaders said the building would remain closed for the moment.

In the withdrawal letter to Harrow Council, mosque general secretary Jahangeer Choudry said the nature of worship at the building made it hard to implement social distancing measures.

“The safety of our community is paramount to us and due to the congregational nature of worship in the mosque we will not be reopening and remain closed until further notice,” he wrote.

However, he stressed the organisation would continue providing a wide range of practical and emotional support for vulnerable local people of all faiths and backgrounds

Two new helplines are due to be launched in coming weeks to help more people access the mosque’s befriending and counselling services.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners, the council and other faith groups to continue the great work we are all doing to support residents during these difficult times,” said Mr Choudry.

Unprecedented level of interest in mosque application

Harrow Council has received more than 3,000 responses to a planning application from Harrow Central Mosque to broadcast the call to prayer during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mosque leaders have asked for permission to broadcast the call to prayer every Friday for three months.

They say the temporary move is designed to reach out to people of all faiths – and those with none – to help reduce isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the application has proved controversial with some residents unhappy about the level of noise and concerned it could lead to the call to prayer becoming a permanent fixture.

Harrow Council told HCRA there had been an “unprecedented level of interest” in the application and the authority had allocated additional resources to cope with the large volume of emails.

The application has received messages of support from people living far and wide including many who do not live in Harrow.

But some people living near the mosque have objected saying they don’t want their peace and quiet disturbed on a regular basis.

More than 10,000 people have so far signed a petition objecting to the plan.

Meanwhile there has been concern from some residents that their comments on the proposal have not been received, got lost or been removed from the council’s website.

Harrow Council’s planning team told HCRA it was currently receiving “hundreds of comments each day” and the council was not able to respond to each one individually.

However, the authority assured HCRA that all comments would be taken into account and published once they had been reviewed.

The plans – and comments on the application – can be viewed via Harrow Council’s website by typing in the application reference: P/1528/20

Please direct all comments to Harrow Council.

 

Mosque requests permission to broadcast call to prayer

Harrow Central Mosque has applied for planning permission to broadcast the call to prayer every Friday evening for three months.

The mosque said the temporary move was in response to the Covid-19 crisis and a way of reaching out to people of all faiths who are currently unable to pray or gather together.

When planning permission for the mosque on the corner of Rosslyn Crescent and Station Road was granted this was on the condition that “no music or any other amplified sound” could be heard by residents living near the mosque.

However, mosque leaders have asked for a temporary lifting of this restriction during the coronavirus pandemic.

If the plan is agreed by Harrow Council the call to prayer – or Adhan – will be broadcast from eight speakers at 6pm every Friday night for three months.

However, the planning application asks for flexibility to extend this beyond three months should “the pandemic and circumstances justify it”.

The planning application states that the call to prayer will last no longer than three to five minutes.

Meanwhile, the wording will be tweaked to call on people to pray where they are at home rather than coming to the mosque.

Mosque leaders said the initiative was designed to “provide a spiritually uplifting experience to the whole community”.

“The initiative is to reinforce Harrow’s legacy of strong community ties and for all faiths to come together,” said the application document.

The aim was to “lift the community’s spirits and to address the strong sense of isolation felt by many of our community in these difficult times” and was for “people of all religions or of none”.

However, some residents have expressed concern about the noise and that the move could pave the way for a permanent call to prayer.

Residents are being invited to comment on the plans via Harrow Council’s website.

The plans can be viewed by typing in the application reference: P/1528/20

NB: We have decided to disable the comment function on this topic due to the volume of comments received and the fact we are a tiny organisation staffed by volunteers and not qualified to moderate the content. Please make comments on the planning application itself or email them to the planning department.