Reflections on Harlow Council Election 2018

Politics / Sun 6th May 2018 pm31 05:52pm


Now that the dust has settled, we thought we would reflect on the Harlow District Council Elections of 2018.

Harlow Election


Labour regained power with a 5% increase of the vote. They gained Bush Fair and were within one vote of gaining Staple Tye. They now have 20 seats compared to the Conservatives 13.

Their campaign was full of enthusiasm and passion. Harlow Labour has always had a strong left leaning tradition and so the coming of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum has seen a real injection of political activism.

You don’t have to agree with people to be able to applaud their commitment to the cause.

We may have to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that Labour was struggling to get candidates. Now they seem to have waiting lists as well as large numbers on the doorstep.

They have also brought a back to the streets form of campaigning which has been very effective in drawing attention to situations. The Osler House campaign has been particularly impressive.

They may want to reflect on why the Conservatives increased their share of the vote and whether there is anything they need to change?

The next decision will be whether leader Emma Toal stays on. Cllr Toal has been very calm and controlled over the last few stormy months but she has her professional political commitments. There is no obvious candidate but we hear cllrs Mark Ingall, Danny Purton and Mike Danvers might be throwing their hats into the ring.

Their challenge will be to carry on the good work of Harlow Council under Jon Clempner as well face the challenges of the Local Plan and regeneration.

It is also needs to assure partners that this is a council that will continue to go forward as a town of regeneration and not be bogged down in internecine conflicts or posture politics.

Councils are run by full time professional local government officers who advise. Having observed from close quarters the top team at Harlow Council seem highly adept.

To be fair, Harlow councillors, in their capacity as committee chairs, just get on with the business in hand.

You just get the feeling that this is going to be a very important year for the Labour run Harlow Council.


To be honest, we feared the worst for the Harlow Conservatives. At the last council meeting of the year, only four were in attendance. Yes, there were very good reasons for being absent but we just wondered if this was a portent?

A few weeks later, they come out of the elections with an 11% increase share of the vote.

They took the seat of Staple Tye from UKIP and beat off the challenge of the candidate Laura MacAlpine, who is also the prospective parliamentary candidate. There is no doubt that they will make reference to that over the next few months.

They defended all their seats and made real in roads in others. They got within 99 votes of Labour in Bush Fair and a 190 in Netteswell. They also massed large number of votes for first time candidates such as Andy Colley in Mark Hall. Many have now got a real taste for local politics and campaigning.

With Harlow now back to two party politics, the Conservatives go into the new civic year with real vigour. They feel there are a number of flaws in the Labour’s approach to a number of issues. They clearly see the Local Plan as a big open goal and can see all the pressure points.


UKIP lost their two seats. They now have a year to reflect and decide whether they continue. Who knows? We are scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th, 2019. If things don’t go to plan, then UKIP might just be back in the game.

Harlow Alliance Party (HAP)

HAP only launched in January. The dipped their toe in the water of local democracy by fielding three candidates. Between them, they polled a total of 426 votes.

They are greatly encouraged and believe that their concerns over the Local Plan are resonating with residents.

It will be vital that they build up their presence and numbers, attract a wide platform and keep in the spotlight. If they can then field a full slate in 2019, then things could be very interesting.

Lib Dems

Another year goes by when the Harlow Lib Dems go through the motions. They do need someone to take the group by the scruff of the neck but we expect to be writing that again next year.


Politics in Harlow continues to be fascinating. These are vital times for Harlow and you feel that Harlow Labour has a lot to prove.

From potholes to planning, from crime, housing, regeneration, environment, health and well-being to job creation, people expect a lot of answers from Harlow District Council. sometimes regardless of if it is within their remit.

We applaud all councillors and campaigners, who, whatever the weather, went out there. Much respect to those who stood and faced the music at the count. Tis better to have fought.

We would like to thank all the parties for helping us and making candidates available for interview.

We hope you have been entertained by our ward by ward assessments. As we stress, they are not psephological treatises but just political pen portraits.

For the record, we got 10/11 right. We got Staple Tye wrong. Who was the one voter who ruined our stats!

We encourage everyone to get involved in politics. All councillors are different, all parties are different, all issues are important and each vote is vital, each councillor can make a change and we should cherish that given to us in 1832, 1867, 1884 and especially 1918/1928.

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4 Comments for Reflections on Harlow Council Election 2018:

2018-05-06 20:26:03

Yes the Tories increased their share of the vote, but over the past year Labour has had a number of things to contend with like a couple of by elections for example. Add to this the hoo haa over the resignation of a major figure, not to mention the scurrilous and often untrue reasons for that which were seized upon and twisted to suit any number of agendas. Given that, comfortably holding onto the council and indeed making an important gain such as Bush Fair while being agonisingly close to another in Staple Tye should be seen as a fairly good result. But the campaign for Labour never really ends and I have no doubt that in the coming weeks and months the party will be out in the community with canvassing sessions, initiatives and activities to lift the spirits of the Harlow people and to listen to and act upon their concerns, as all good councillors should. How about we jazz up the elections next time with hustings, possibly filmed by Your Harlow? Let's have a free flow of ideas and counter ideas, face to face. Things like that will get people more interested and, I believe, increase turnout.

Eugenie Harvey
2018-05-06 21:24:38

Great idea about filmed hustings. Michael, thank you for your thoughtful analysis and all your hard work to provide the people of Harlow with information to enable them to make informed choices. Thank you also for recognising how hard we all worked - and not just candidates but many volunteers and of course the campaign team - in the lead up to the election. In return I want to recognise and thank the small but dedicated YH team for all that you do to support local democracy and to hold our elected representatives to account.

2018-05-07 10:26:34

Well for once I have to agree with the sentiments expressed by JFQ in his/her last paragraph. In trying to increase awareness and interest in local politics we are faced with a situation in Harlow where The Harlow Star no longer send a reporter to Harlow Council meetings so very few people know what's going on inside the Council, indeed The Harlow Star did not even report that an election was taking place last week. I am afraid that speaking to lots of people over the last few weeks, most people have never heard of yourharlow let alone look at it very often. Those individuals making comments about articles are actually very few in numbers. Those of you who can remember Harlow Council's seven Area Committees in the 1990's and early 2000,s (which were each held six times a year), would collectively see perhaps 200 to 300 residents during each six week cycle, those attending could see local issues debated, they could participate in proceedings and see how democracy worked. What we have now, is a Council making decisions without public awareness, despite having a Harlow Times which could be used as a vehicle to publicise meetings and report back on decisions being made, but the Council chooses not to. So roll on the idea of hustings, I look forward to meeting JFQ, who ever you are. Nicholas Taylor Harlow Alliance Party

Brett Hawksbee
2018-05-08 19:45:35

Michael it is very early days in a constituency wide renaissance for Labour in Harlow. There is enthusiasm for doing things differently, matched by a respect for tradition, which will coalesce in the coming months into a formidable force working in the best interests of all Harlow. Laura McAlpine,as you know, a 3rd generation Harlow resident, can be credited with forming Harlow Young Labour; a collective of young activists dedicated to the town and its residents. Clearing litter, restoring Basketball courts, raising funds for local charities and Community Interest Companies, are all non party political initiatives. They are by their actions demonstrating a laudable and much welcome civic pride. They have much more to offer. Even the maligned 'Momentum Harlow', staging films shows for children, and shortly to offer specific 'Dementia Friendly Cinema,' have worked in the interests of the less well off Harlow residents, and supported MRCT Harlow Foodbank. The Council, finally unshackled from a long standing supply contract initiated when the Tories last held the balance of power, have repatriated iro £700,000 to our local budget, and will return more than £1.2 million for this year. Money which previously exited the local economy as private company operating profit and shareholder dividends. We have also increased our representation on the council. The signs are good, not just for Labour, but for Harlow. And even if it is in 2022, we have a cohesion and a united sense of purpose which will I believe, take our 'Harlow through and through', talented Prospective Parliamentary Candidate all the way to Westminster. Today, if I were Robert Halfon, I would be very afraid.

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