Harrow Council Labour’s administration has been slammed by the opposition Conservatives after it voted to investigate twinning the borough with an assortment of danger hotspots and destinations of personal choice, while cutting frontline services. At a Council meeting on 4th November, Labour councillors voted through a motion to:
"Explore the possibility of twinning with more towns and cities such as Balakot, Bhuj, Broken Hill, Hargeisa, Pattan, Port au Prince, Kingston, La, Tilburg and Tel Aviv."
The Conservatives voted against the motion, their group leader Cllr. Susan Hall declared:
"Harrow Labour are the new ‘Loony Left’. They are investigating mass twinning at taxpayer’s expense whilst moaning about the need to make savings. Now they’ve quite incredibly decided they rather like the idea of foreign jollies for councillors. With 34 Harrow library staff losing their jobs in January, and Labour refusing to guarantee residents in receipt of discretionary disabled Freedom Passes that they will continue to be funded by the Council, it’s clear Labour haven’t got their priorities right."
"If the idea of more twinning during financially challenging times wasn’t bad enough, a casual glance at the locations they’ve picked will tell you what a serious error of judgment Labour have made. Four of the places Labour have deemed sensible to twin with Harrow have Foreign Office ‘do not travel’ warnings against them – for reasons ranging from terrorism to natural disasters and disease – and a fifth is described as "hostile" towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
"Three of them are personally meaningful to the councillor who proposed the motion, and Bhuj is a pet project of London Assembly Member Cllr. Navin Shah, who previously tried to initiate its twinning with Harrow in 2004."
"Twinning agreements can cost councils a substantial amount of money, both in terms of travel costs and administration. We heard recently how Labour-controlled Sunderland Council spent over £27,000 on ‘friendship agreement activities’ with Washington DC – which does not have a Foreign Office travel advisory notice against it – and over £82,000 in total on 41 different foreign trips. If Harrow were to end up twinned with multiple towns and cities, I can imagine similar bills becoming commonplace here. This is a totally unacceptable waste of public money, but not, apparently, to
Labour’s loony left administration.
Travel Advisory Warnings, from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office:
Bakalot: "Advise against all travel to areas where there are ongoing reports of military or militant activity or where the risk from lawlessness and kidnapping is most severe"; applies to "much of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa."
Hargeisa: "Advises against all travel to Somalia"; "There is no British representation in any part of Somalia and we are unable to provide consular assistance there. Should you need consular assistance please travel to the British Embassy in Addis Ababa or the British High Commission in Nairobi."
Pattan: "Advise against all travel to rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir; "In some areas terrorist incidents are frequent, especially Jammu and Kashmir."
Port au Prince: "We continue to advise against all but essential travel to Haiti."
Kingston: "There are high levels of crime and violence, particularly in Kingston"; "Jamaica has laws which make certain homosexual acts illegal. The attitude of many Jamaicans to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is hostile."