MP Robert Halfon said: “Harlow Council should give people their money back”
Politics / Thu 19th Mar 2015 pm31 05:27pm
ROBERT Halfon has called for a rethink on Part Night Lighting in Harlow, after the news that Essex and Harlow Council have been unable to reach an agreement over switching street lights back on in Harlow.
Labour-run Harlow Council had previously asked Essex Council to allow them to pay for street lights in Harlow to remain on throughout the night, and had used this as justification for a 1.5% increase in Council Tax. This was despite the Conservative Group delivering an alternative budget which would have paid for the lights to be switched on whilst cutting council tax in the town by 0.5%.
In a letter addressed to Harlow Council Leader Cllr. Jon Clempner, Cllr. Rodney Bass, the Essex County Council Cabinet Member responsible for the scheme wrote:
“ECC is not willing to agree even to the principle of your proposal at this particular time… We think therefore it is better to defer further consideration of your suggestion for a year or so while we allow the PNL scheme to bed down after further fine tuning — some elements of which will be announced shortly. We believe this is in the interests of the Council taxpayers of Harlow as well as those of Essex as a whole.
Robert Halfon, who himself lead a campaign to get the lights switched on, said that he was disappointed to learn that negotiations had broken down, but given that the street lights were now not going to be switch on, Harlow Council should not put Council Tax up in the town. He said:
“Although I disagreed with how Harlow Council dealt with the situation, and felt strongly that there should be no council tax increase to pay for the lights to be switched on, I am disappointed to hear that negotiations have broken down, and will continue to speak to Essex Council about getting the lights switched on for a longer period each night. However given that Harlow Council will not now need to pay for the lights to be put back on, it is outrageous that they still plan to go ahead and raise council tax. Harlow Council should urgently look at this and reverse their decision.”
Conservative group leader Cllr Andrew Johnson said:
“This whole situation had been handled badly by the Labour administration of Harlow Council. They clearly didn’t do their research, didn’t actually speak to the relevant cabinet member and didn’t get their sums right. If the light switch on doesn’t happen the Labour Council owe taxpayers in Harlow £100,000 – Can we all have our money back please?”
Robert Halfon has been a strong advocate of keeping the lights turned on in Harlow but with no cost to the taxpayer, and has raised the issue a number of times in Parliament, most recently with William Hague MP. He has also up a petition, and has met with Essex Council on several occasions to discuss their decision.
It's a real shame but not unexpected that the local Tory MP has given up on Harlow so quickly over the bully boy attitude of Tory controlled Essex County Council. This is yet another example of how ECC is out of touch with the needs of Harlow residence. The real leadership at ECC have been sending out clear messages that they couldn't see any reason why if Harlow pays the lights shouldn't go back on. We're now being blackmailed by one cabinet member and our MP is shutting up shop and simply walking away.He washappy to court national media about fuel duty but not willing to get behind his council and get his community lights back on.
Frankly Tony, I think Labour should look at their own actions here. You have taken money from taxpayers for something you cannot deliver, and failed to get agreement on before you did it. Let's face it, it was about giving your PPC a little victory anyway. You then put out leaflets in the Mark Hall By Election saying only Labour was doing anything about the Street Lights switch off - when you know full well that thanks to UKIP's Bill Pryor, and the Tory's Andrew Johnson - Jon Clempner was finally convinced to sign a letter from all three group leaders on Harlow Council to get the lights back on. It's a stupid policy - and we all agree - but to try playing politics with this when it's all clearly a Labour failure is pretty pathetic frankly!
To be fair Mark your own leader attended a meeting at county hall and was fully supportive of the actions of the council. You need to receive a briefing as he will assure you both at meetings in the media and on social network strong indication and assurance were being provided. Everyone knows Cllr Bass attitude to Harlow which is on the same level as his views about Labour councils. It doesn't come as any surprise that Rodney would ever support either Harlow or the council. Remember school crossings we got that reversed why not this.His deputy is Eddie Johnson who I'm sure will appeal to Rodney to think again.its not over
Well I agree about Cllr. Bass - I'm not sure I hold out much hope. I'm not sure how much he'll listen to Eddie. Yes, I know Bill was at the meetings - but it was wrong to raise Council Tax without getting the signed agreement first. A verbal contract means nothing!