Conservatives hail ‘amazing accompishment’ after bucking London trend and taking Harrow Council from Labour

The new Harrow council leader Paul Osborn believes the Conservatives defied expectations to gain control of the borough.

Labour had held the north-west London area since 2010, but saw a seven-seat majority switch to the Conservatives, who now have an advantage of the same margin.

Harrow was the first London borough the Conservatives gained on a week of damage limitation in the capital, leaving Osborn thrilled.

He said: “It’s an amazing accomplishment, we’ve been working so hard for so many years to do this.

“I’m so blessed. We’ve got an amazing group of people who have been working day in, day out, in the freezing cold and the blistering heat, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, getting the message out there.

“I’m still letting it sink in a little bit.”

The Conservatives campaigned under the pledge to reverse the increasing council tax, which has risen 31.1% in 11 years, more than anywhere else in London, in the last seven years.

They have also promised one-hour free parking for all residents and to crack down on fly-tipping.
It was these issues that Osborn pinpointed when reflecting on his party’s victory.

He said: “We have a big problem with fly-tipping and we need to put some focus and effort into dealing with that.”

And on free parking, he said: “It’s really important. If you go to a supermarket you get free parking, but if you support a local business you have to pay for parking.

“One of the things the council can do to the cost of living is to introduce that one-hour free parking.”

Osborn claimed he truly believed his party would win after Kenton West, the second ward in the borough to be declared, went to the Conservatives.

Yet, overhauling the Labour majority initially appeared unlikely, particularly after the Tories’ losses in Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet overnight.

However, once they won two out of three seats in Edgware, a ward previously under the full control of Labour, a surprise appeared possible.

In a crucial ten-minute period, the Conservatives won a seat in Rayners Lane before taking the two seats in North Harrow, where third-placed Labour candidate Hugh Brown finished a mere five points behind the top two.

The Conservatives defended their wards as expected thereafter, finishing with 31 out of 55 seats.

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, was delighted with the seven-seat majority.

He said: “Gaining seven seats from Labour and then having control is absolutely superb.

“Now, we’ve got to do a big job of work to transform this council.”

Osborn also emphasised the importance of the solid majority and, when addressing his council moments after the victory was confirmed, relished defying the odds in Harrow.

He said: “They said this couldn’t be done, they said we couldn’t win. We showed them we can win in Harrow.

“It’s a big day for Harrow. It’s going to be a big job for us to do, but we are determined to deliver for the people of Harrow, so in four years’ time we can have even more seats.”

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