AS is our tradition, over the next three weeks, we will be donning our political anorak and having look at each ward.
In many ways, we do it to remind ourselves of the issue in each ward, from anti-social behaviour in Katherines to parking in Old Harlow.
Before we start, these are fractious times and so it is important that each and everyone uses moderate language.
We are also of the opinion, that each and every person that stands for elected office is different, This reporter is someone who has walked the streets with nearly every political party you can think of. It should also be said that we could count on the fingers of one hand, over forty years, a lazy councillor.
But here is a quick overview of each group.
Harlow Labour have now been in power since May 2012. That is an achievement on its own. Sometimes it tends to get overlooked as to how hard they work at retaining power. Week in and week out they are out and about on the doorsteps.
They are now twenty-councillor strong and will take a lot of shifting. Yes, one cannot ignore the recent by-elections and one of the questions posed may be that they are less a group in charge of a multi-million pound council and more a pressure group against “nasty evil Tories”.
There is now a real concern that they are being led by events as opposed to leading. There is a perception that they were way behind the curve on shared ownership, bin collections and office conversions to name just three. They will say that is unfair and untrue but perception can count for a lot.
However, the real work by Harlow Labour is probably done in the committees such as scrutiny, housing and planning, by portfolio holders and behind the scenes.
There is no doubt that the Harlow Conservatives keep the ruling Labour group on their toes. Week in and week out they are holding them to account. Even as we write this piece they are lambasting the Labour-run councillor over the waste collection debacle.
However, they may wonder where they go from here, It is seven long years since they held power. In 2010, they had eighteen councillors. Now they are down to thirteen and you just can’t see where their next victory is going to come from. Yes they gained a ward (Staple Tye) in 2018 but where can they gain three or four more?
Perhaps their new chair, cllr Russell Perrin will bring a new fresh perspective for the Harlow Tories. They seem to be immune from the anti-Theresa May vibe and yet don’t seem to be able to benefit from having a Conservative MP with a 7,000 plus majority.
We aren’t alway disposed to quote former Ukip leader Paul Nuttall but on several occasions we have referred to his “keep on the pitch” philosophy. After their highpoint of 2014 (both nationally and locally) the Ukip vote collapsed. They looked wiped out however it was Mr Nuttall who opened that if they could “keep on the pitch” and if people started to feel that Brexit may not happen, then they could make a comeback.
Sure enough, whereas they have more or less disappeared in places such as Thurrock (they once had 17 councillors) or be like Lib Dems who have gone from running a Harlow Council to performing a political cameo role, Ukip have more or less stayed on the pitch. In 2018, they polled 103,154,97,140,101,106,103 and 180. This year, they may well increase those number of votes. They may not win any wards but they may put the electoral cat amongst the pigeons.
Maybe this is why Harlow Labour don’t want to talk about Brexit. Some say, you can run but you can’t hide.
Harlow Alliance Party
Four candidates this time. Nicholas Taylor and his team will see themselves as the true protectors of Harlow’s green and pleasant land. Others see them as the ultimate “build anywhere but here” nimbys however the attendance at recent meetings they have organised indicate that they have a lot of support in those key wards such as Great Parndon and Sumners.
It is a shame that they could not get close to a full slate of candidates, that is often seen as a sign of progression and gets the message out there.
They were in attendance at recent Local Plan meetings and will no doubt use that as a platform to harvest more votes. Like Ukip,, there polling may upset things in wards and may make a few interesting. If they are happy to remain a pressure group then that is fine but you feel they want to make more of an impression.
We are going to write the same as we have done since 2013. Nice to see four candidates but it seems such a token gesture. Awfully nice people but until they find someone who is going to take the Lib Dem bull by the horns and stage a major comeback then they will be consigned to the status of also-rans.
From tomorrow (Tuesday) we will run our eleven ward by ward pieces, starting with Toddbrook.
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