Harlow Council slated by Tories for spending £83,000 on Discover Harlow project

News / Wed 18th Jul 2018 at 04:49am

HARLOW Conservatives have slammed the Labour-run Harlow Council for spending £83.000 on a PR campaign to promote the town.

Deputy leader of the Harlow Conservatives, Joel Charles asked the question at full council last Thursday. He received a reply on Tuesday.

Cllr Joel Charles said: “Nobody disagrees that we need to promote Harlow and attract inward investment, but this PR campaign was doomed to failure from the outset. There are no formal measures of success or specific targets for achieving value for money. I am also surprised that no case studies promoting businesses in the town or residents’ stories were used to help tell others, as part of the campaign, why Harlow is a great place to live.

“Labour Councillors have needlessly wasted taxpayers’ money on a rushed PR campaign. There are serious questions about how Harlow Council manages and controls costs when they commission PR consultants.”

The development of the Discover Harlow campaign cost £47,500 for phase one, (the development/consultation phase), just under £16,500 for phase 2,( launch and implementation) and the materials and showreel which bring the initiative to life cost just over £19,000.

Portfolio Holder for Community Wellbeing, Councillor Eugenie Harvey has defended the project. Cllr Harvey said: “Discover Harlow is a planned approach to promoting Harlow that will continue for many years to come. The initiative is backed by local businesses, organisations and key individuals, more than 100 of whom took part in the lengthy consultation process which informed the final campaign.

“The launch event was attended by representatives of more than 80 organizations and leading figures from Public Health England, Harlow Enterprise Zone, Harlow Art Trust and Countryside Properties spoke to roundly endorse the initiative and to present their own enthusiastic views of the town and its potential.

“Discover Harlow is vital for the town’s future prospects by attracting investment and bringing visitors to the town. The more investment and interest we can create in Harlow the more it will benefit everyone with new jobs and new opportunities for all. If Harlow is to compete with other areas then it needs to promote itself successfully, if business and people don’t know about Harlow and what it has to offer, they won’t come to our town, in fact some business might not stay in our town.

“Harlow Council is serious about promoting Harlow and having invested in the set-up of Discover Harlow, we envisage that over time it will be adopted by businesses and other organisations and that it will eventually be funded by the private sector. This has been the experience elsewhere and we see no reason why it should not be the case in Harlow.

“It is widely recognised that more needs to be done to promote Harlow and all it has to offer. We also need to improve perceptions of the town and challenge those things which have been said about Harlow in the past. We can do this by promoting the many opportunities within the town and the unique and distinctive qualities that we are fortunate to possess; our heritage, culture, and our geographic location. These things are all at the forefront of Discover Harlow.

“I’m confident, given the size of the opportunity and the risk of failing to act, that the investment in Discover Harlow was well made and that over time this will be proven and through the economic growth of our town and improved opportunities for our residents”.

Cllr Joel Charles has told YH that he has written to the Managing Director of Harlow Council to raise concerns about the procurement process used to appoint the PR consultants. He is seeking answers about when and on what basis PR consultants were commissioned to develop the Discover Harlow campaign.

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11 Comments for Harlow Council slated by Tories for spending £83,000 on Discover Harlow project:

2018-07-18 06:21:41

Ah, the vanishing Eugenie re-appears. The project that she took on for Churchgate Ratepayers, and then dumped, out of hand, for greener pastures with the Harlow commies, for purely selfish reasons. As they used to say in the last war,"if you can find a better hole,get in it". Wasted a lot of peoples time and energy,for her own self-advancement. Good riddance. Already on about spending our money, and the private sector too. Tax,spend, bust. The REDS battle cry.

2018-07-18 07:18:15

Sadly the nasty side of the Tory party appears yet again. Attack the person not the policy. Let’s be clear this decision was made by the former leader and his former cabinet. This decision was based on evidence and advice from the wider business community If Harlow wants to attract growth and opportunity then we need to be proactive and promote Harlow. The group we chose has a great portfolio of success. This amount is cheap compared to many other campaign run for other reasons. This investment is for the future. How can you measure success,let see how business leaders community champion and others now use this in a productive and positive way. Labour is for the future not for some cheap nasty headline and attack on hardworking community leaders. The right decision was made for the right reason and will enhance our towns reputation to a wider audience. Nasty comments will never stop the right people making the right decisions.

Brett Hawksbee
2018-07-18 09:57:32

More Tory tedium. Harlow Council can be very proud if this is the best the Tories can do, as they seek to create the illusion that they have either influence or relevance. Joel Charles is well placed to know the rationale behind PR/Marketing spend. In fact he himself says "Nobody disagrees that we need to promote Harlow and attract inward investment ..." So his problem is not with the principle. Is it with the cost? Whilst he cites a "waste of money", the context is that the actual exercise was "doomed to failure ..." Either Cllr Charles' inherited his crystal ball from Nostradamus, or he is making unsubstantiated and premature claims about the 'failure' of the exercise. his unfounded assertion that it will not deliver benefit seems to be all that is left if you take his objections apart. This is as yet unquantifiable. Harlow does need to promote itself as a place for business and investment, and the council is actively doing so. The £83k is an investment in Harlow's future prosperity. If it were to become arguable at some point in the future that this spend was ill judged, then is the time to take issue. At the moment, Cllr Charles' objection is speculative at best.

2018-07-18 14:41:01

Again, the truth matters not to these people. All occurred exactly as I commented. As soon as she became adopted by the Labour group, she was off, dumping the position that she had acquired in the ratepayers group. Loyalty eh ? By the way, I have NO political connections or affiliations with any political groups. Just an absolutely p....d off voter who let's off steam.

2018-07-18 14:44:35

Is this project running alongside Robert Halfon's continuing efforts to establish Harlow as a good place to do business ? Or, are the slippery lefties making mischief ? Champagne Charlie should be worth a punt.

2018-07-18 15:45:15

Two comments from Micky in a row, both getting more and more upset, both on an article involving a woman. Coincidence? Nope. And Micky, when you say you have no political affiliations I think we both know that's not true. Being as I know precisely who you are, darling.

2018-07-18 17:03:38

At last weeks full council both the leaders spoke well about partnership and working together. Whilst we have policial difference we both want the same outcome. Therefore is disappointing that yet again a nasty Tory goes for the person not the policy. If you can’t win the ball you kick the other player who wasn’t even in the team at the time of the decision.

2018-07-18 17:16:29

I agree wholeheartedly with the comment above, this reeks of the Nasty Party trying to unsettle a relatively new councillor with a complaint that is tenuous at best. It shows, once again, that the Conservative Party don't have the wellbeing of Harlow in mind, or any formed policy of their own and to cover up these facts are reduced to lies and smears. It's disrespectful to the councillor, disrespectful to their positions and disrespectful to the electorate.

2018-07-18 18:01:59

durcant, dear comrade,didn't the new commie Battle Group do you a good turn.RSVP.

2018-07-18 19:39:35

What has her nationality got to do with anything? Everything according to you. Here he is again, the playground bully that never grew up. Ask him to debate though and he melts away like the scared Tory troll he is.

2018-07-18 19:42:20

Micky shows not only his sexism but also his xenophobia with his latest deranged comments. It's an outrage that this website allows this kind of comment.