Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Leisure started his career at the council as a side job to keep him involved with a community that he had lived in his entire life.
He made this decision after he was inspired to do so by Neil Kinnock, the former leader of the Labour Party. He was elected in 1995 to be councillor for Peckham and ever since then he has played an active role in helping the community. In 2012 he was re-elected and appointed as a cabinet member.
Hargrove has had many roles in the Southwark Council including being Cabinet Member for Public Health, Parks and Leisure and holding the role of Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Recycling. Barrie has played an active role in many aspects of the Southwark council and the community itself. His current role as Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Leisure has put him directly in touch with the community as he ensures the safety of young people and families by providing community wardens that carry out things such as weapons sweeps.
I had a chance to speak to Councillor Hargrove at the Southwark Council building, which he had previously mentioned had received some cuts, especially in terms of maintenance and the IT team.
Hargrove was greeted by anyone we passed on our way to the room I was set to interview him in, which came to me as no surprise as Hargrove had a very upbeat personality even on a Thursday morning.
As the interview started, his upbeat tone did not change as Hargrove was open to talk about serious topics such as budget cuts throughout the country.
Barrie admitted that “We [the council] are quite cash strapped” when discussing the budget cuts that happen each year around January time that cause him and other councillors to make hard decisions which affect the community.
“It makes us look quite heartless” Hargrove stated when explaining the recent decision to shut down a day centre for people with learning disabilities “but people only see the actual impact and not why we’re having to do it. There are other options and choices that we have which are equally painful.”
In order to make up some of the money that is being cut yearly, the council has had to start charging personal trainers, who use their parks to host lessons, for a licence which allows them to continue their business. “They’re not agreeing with us”
He touched on a time in his career where his decisions in terms of cuts affected someone he had encountered personally. “Many years ago, right around 2011/2012 there was this local community event near Christmas, we were making these decorations and I remember working with these two officers…when you’re doing that you really build up a comradery and get to know someone. Six weeks later I realised that that officer had been made redundant because of cuts that I’d agreed to”
“It all has accumulative impact”