Veteran Danvers illuminates council meeting

Politics / Sun 21st Sep 2014 at 03:44pm

By Siobhan Wood

IN a few days time, veteran councillor Mike Danvers reaches the age of 65. He won’t mind us mentioning that as he revealed the information at a recent council meeting.

Cllr Danvers has been a cornerstone of democracy in Harlow for a long time now and his leadership in the street lighting debate illustrated why he is such as key councillor in Harlow.

This isn’t to suggest he is right or wrong. This just underlines that he is worthy of respect.

Although we have already published a story on the street lights, we wanted to run a longer version which highlights how his motion enabled councillor from all four corners of the town to contribute to the debate.

Motions from councillors. Street lighting

Cllr Mike Danvers: “In ten days I will be an OAP and won’t be venturing out after 12 o clock at night.

“As a public representative, I am failing in my duty. A lady I spoke to epitomized the problem. She feels there is a curfew at twelve and is frightened to go out.

She told me: “I can’t take a torch out as feel I am a target.’

Large numbers of women contacted me and were keen to sign the petition to turn the lights back on.

The petition now stands at 9,000 signatures.

“In Brentwood police asked for lighting to be turned on as it was so dangerous on Saturday nights.

“I feel it would have been better rather than the £6.5million they won’t get back until to 2020s to be like Sheffield and spend on LED lighting, 1/10 of costs now.

The motion was seconded by cllr Jean Clark

Cllr Jean Clark said: “All advantages completely overwritten by disadvantages. I was surprised at number of women doing night shift work and they are particularly upset.

“Women mentioned they park their cars in garages and are then worried about walking to their home as they can’t get parking space near house. One woman crosses a field at 3am which was well lit but she won’t use it again.

“Even if nothing actually happens, potential is all and it limits women’s actions.”

“If you can’t see in advance you can’t cross the road to avoid danger. Women are giving up night shifts because of this. Coincidence or not but Edinburgh Way at night time is a place where young people go racing. Some bollards do not have lights on and this is deceptive which increases danger. Two or three days after lights turned off there was a very serious accident. Reports of mugging in press. Police in Harlow opposed cutting off the lights. Important for perception of safety and way of life.

Cllr Tony Durcan said: “I supports all that has been said. We have to be honest, it was introduced without consultation.

Essex County Council did a pilot then rolled it out regardless. They consulted only with the police regarding crime.

“As a health worker a lot are out and about at this time, women carrying equipment doing a vital job.

“Taxi drivers feel uncomfortable dropping people off in dark areas – number have told me they are escorting people to their doors. Street pastors and youth councillors are also concerned.

“Get behind our community and “say as one voice the majority of our community wants the lights on.”

Conservative councillor, David Carter added to the debate

“What money are we going to use to turn the lights back on?

Shadow Conservative leader, cllr Andrew Johnson: “When cllr Danvers says ‘the public petition’ does he mean, the Labour petition.”

“Our conversation with the police say that there is no increase in crime with lights out. However, that doesn’t mean there are places lights can’t be turned on.

“Residents can work with us as the council, all three groups on this council should hear their voices and pass message onto ECC.

“It is our responsibility to make absolute rock solid case why those lights should be turned on.

UKIP leader, cllr Bill Prior posed the question: “Is profit being put before safety?

Shadow deputy leader,Joel Charles agreed that the council needs to look at technology

He said: ” My leader said Conservatives pushing for cross party consensus on matter. All three groups believe in same principle.

“This council should have action outcomes. I agree with equality issues put forward by Jean Clark.
“This chamber is about Harlow. Investment in technology is vital

“Let’s work smarter with technologies available.”

Bill Pryor: UKIP stated in the policy at beginning of chamber. Will support all for the benefit of Harlow. Safety we should look at, not saving £80,000. We will support amendment. Better cross party question posed to ECC.

The debate ended with cllr Mike Danvers continuing to use his experienced political insight to put a matter that is vital for all Harlow residents.

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