Harlow Council leader on Street lights debacle: “This is not the end of the matter….”

Politics / Thu 19th Mar 2015 at 06:02pm

COUNCILLOR Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “It seems that the Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance and other Essex Cabinet members have stated quite clearly that they support Localism and will respect the local choices of Harlow and then Councillor Bass who has rejected the democratic decisions of Harlow Council.

“Harlow Council followed its democratic process in putting forward an offer (for the details of the offer please see below) to the County Council and Councillor Bass has rejected it. Keeping Harlow’s street lights on all night is supported by all three political parties on the Council and the town’s MP backed up by many conversations with residents on the doorstep since the lights went out, findings from surveys and a petition.

“We have been transparent from the start about how we plan to pay for this with a small Council Tax increase of just 7p a week for the average household in Harlow. Harlow Council’s offer would meet Essex County Council’s savings for Harlow and this is the main reason the County Council turned the lights out in the first place. Our plan doesn’t not seek to challenge Essex’s policy itself, whether we agree with it or not, and would demonstrate the kind of cooperative working that we would seek to embody in an Essex devolution deal on a wider scale.

“I understand that Brentwood, Colchester and Tendring Councils are also urging the County Council to keep the lights on in response to their local community’s wishes. If the decision of Councillor Bass prevails it looks as if they will be disappointed. Will all Councils in Essex be able to credibly pursue devolution based upon joint working if this decision is allowed to stand? I would urge the Leader of Essex County Council to intervene to resolve this issue.

“This isn’t the end of the matter. We will continue to talk to Essex County Council. We will continue to put our community’s needs first and get our town’s street lights back on.”

Harlow Council’s offer made to Essex County Council on 20 February 2015 was as follows:

In consideration of Essex County Council switching the street lights in Harlow back on from midnight to 5 am for each day of the week from 1 April 2015:

a) Harlow Council will pay, quarterly in arrears, to Essex County Council the actual cost of the additional electricity charge incurred by Essex County Council.

b) For avoidance of doubt the charge in (a) above will not include maintenance or service costs associated with the street lighting, or any other overheads which will remain the responsibility of Essex County Council and shall be inclusive of any VAT.

c) The cost of the additional electricity charge will be at the lower of either the rate of the unit cost charged to Essex County Council or Harlow District Council.

d) Prior to the payments becoming due Harlow Council will receive an itemised bill of the cost for the preceding quarter.

e) Harlow Council will be granted access to all data to undertake an audit of the costs at any time.

f) Essex County Council will notify Harlow Council of any proposed changes to the unit cost of electricity, subject to (c) above, as soon as it becomes aware of any such change.

g) The agreement will last for three years from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2018, and may be extended on an annual basis thereafter by Harlow District Council giving notice to Essex County Council by the 25 February in the year of the extension to provide a continuity of lighting.

h) This agreement will terminate without notice in the event that Essex County Council turns the street lighting back on at its cost within the specified hours in any other City, District or Borough within Essex with the street lights being switched on at the Essex County Council’s cost during those specified hours in Harlow.

i) Any incentive or subsidy given to any City, District or Borough Council within Essex by Essex County Council to support the street lights being turned on between the specified hours will be given to Harlow Council.

j) This agreement will terminate without notice in the event that Essex County Council no longer operates the street lights.

k) Essex County Council will work with Harlow Council to explore piloting the introduction of more energy efficient street lighting in Harlow.

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9 Comments for Harlow Council leader on Street lights debacle: “This is not the end of the matter….”:

2015-03-19 20:10:15

Does anyone else think as i do that we have had our pants pulled down over this? I have a funny feeling that all this is a charade just to increase council tax and if they do stay off i would be surprised to see any adjustment in our council tax bill..

2015-03-20 15:03:35

what a shambles - they increase our council tax and can't even get the lights switched on. Its all a con. we were in the Daily Mail today - our council is a joke.

2015-03-20 15:29:04

The answer is simple! Don't vote Labour again! I suspect Residents won't forget this, and will demand their money back! And rightfully so too!

2015-03-20 16:34:00

what has this administration done for the town? i love this place - what has gone so wrong?

tony durcan
2015-03-20 19:11:35

I'm really surprised that some Harlow political leaders in UKIP and others are giving up so easily just because the cabinet member says NO. Harlow is built on attitude and strength,we all know people would prefer to have the light back on so lets join together and say no to ECC. Let's not just roll over and be told by county council were a naughty town. If you believe in Harlow then you believe it's right to challenge councillor Bass attitude. We will fight for what is right for our residence.regardless of local and national elections.

2015-03-20 19:17:49

a powerful response Tony Duran but....... you have increased council tax to switch on the lights and they are not being turned on. we were featured in the Daily Mail today - what is happening to this town?

tony durcan
2015-03-20 19:44:01

Correction Tory controlled ECC is currently not switching them back on,this on the say so of Cllr Bass who wanted to stop school crossing in Harlow. Harlow stood firm and he back down. We won't go quietly into the night. The money is ring fenced so is safe and secure,it can't be used for anything else

tony durcan
2015-03-20 19:45:14

Ps at least you admit to reading the daily mail

2015-03-23 14:50:38

Well Tony the Cabinet Member is in charge - so if he says no it is pretty strong reason to suggest turning them back on is unlikely. A sensible administration would get the agreement first before demanding money from residents through the Council Tax demand. Let's not forget - despite the lies Labour put out in the Mark Hall By Election - UKIP's Bill Pryor, Conservative Andrew Johnson and eventually Labour's Jon Clempner all wrote a joint letter opposing this stupid policy - that, let's not forget, will save NOT ONE PENNY until 2020-21. All parties oppose this here in Harlow, but only one is taking money from Residents. Labour have a question to answer here - is this a one off for one year - ie an election gimmick to give their PPC something to say - or are they committed to this year on year? Hence a similar Council Tax rise every year!!!

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