Top Harlow Tory still unhappy over cost of PR company used for Discover Harlow campaign

News / Wed 8th Aug 2018 pm31 12:48pm

A TOP Harlow Conservative councillor is continuing to press Harlow Council over the cost of using a PR company to promote the Discover Harlow campaign.

YH caught up with the deputy leader of the Harlow Conservatives, cllr Joel Charles to see what else he had discovered after initially bringing up the subject at a council meeting in August.

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15 Comments for Top Harlow Tory still unhappy over cost of PR company used for Discover Harlow campaign:

Brett Hawksbee
2018-08-08 14:20:15

All a bit of a nonsense really. A fabulous testament to a great Labour Council that Cllr Charles is resorting to FOI requests to try to create issues where none exist. The council is doing a superb job with budgeting,and are in a sound financial situation (Including reserves). A budget overspend? I wonder how 'awful' Cllr Charles would have seen such an overspend as a beneficiary, whilst he was Future Care Capital's Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Public Relations, Media and Marketing ... And to suggest that 'better procurement practices exist' in the private sector? well so compare apples and pears, why don't you ...? A very odd objection. So as a takeaway from this item, even after 40% Tory cuts. Harlow Council are in very good shape. Tory County Council apparently not managing as well - Their part of council tax, (their precept) along with PFCC etc., (also Tory) increased 6% last year. And the Tories are resorting to trawling through the public record via FOI. Joel you look look like a 1970 News of the World reporter going through someone's bins. It's not a good look.

2018-08-08 14:25:19

Same old Labour then. Delegating responsibility for accounting, to what appears so far, a phantom spend of public money. No reports either, on the value or worth of un-seen results, if any. Strange state of affairs. Labour, the best at spending other people's money.

Brett Hawksbee
2018-08-08 15:51:26

Now Mucky you say "best at spending other people's money" so lets look at that. We are approaching 2 years of HTS operation. HTS have just set up a company in Harlow, to build houses to be let out at council rents. HTS made £1.2m in its first year, and I believe £1.5m will be an underestimate for year two. So minimum increase to Council finances (Harlow Council own HTS) £2.7million. A massive figure when you consider Harlow population of around 85,000 ... that is almost £100 per household, over two years, which previously left Harlow to go to Keir Shareholders around the globe. In many respects, if you can't point at profligacy beyond a £40k overspend on a potentially revenue earning exercise, why are you even trying to debate the point? To my way of thinking, this Labour Council has £2,660,000 of discretionary spending before you or Joel Charles has a valid moral voice in this debate.Average £1.35m of unnecessary capital flight per year, and you want to tell Labour Council about fiscal responsibility?

2018-08-08 16:22:57

"Labour, the best at spending others people's money". Err... I don't want to go into the ins and outs of the Inland Revenue but that's what all governments do. Excellent points, Brett. There's no substitute for facts and knowledge when all Joel Charles has got is fake outrage, playing to the rapidly diminishing Harlow Conservative Party membership.

2018-08-08 16:57:29

Looking at the comments it's becoming apparent that someone has very close connections to Harlow Labour almost to the point it begs the question who is actually running the town. Maybe it's the same person backing Labour's PPC.

2018-08-08 22:49:26

Like Cllr Charles, I recently made a Freedom of Information request, about how much the Council was spending on maintaining trees across the town, which I suspect is very little compared with what it has done in the past. The reply to my request made interesting reading. I was advised that HTS are given a sum of money each year to carry out a range of works, but there are no specific headings for spend (and so I could not be given the sum spent on trees). I have to assume therefore that there is no service level agreement, for instance how many acres of grass has to be cut xx times a year or so many miles of hedges etc. Now quite frankly I cannot believe this is the case and have responded accordingly. The sums given to HTS are as follows: 2014/15 £2.527 million, 15/16 £2.613 million, 16/17 £2.641 million, 17/18 £3.210 million and 18/19 £3.304 million. Put quite simply, HTS are underspending what is being given to them by the Council. This equates to £100 per household as has already been said, which could have used to reduce council tax. When one looks at how £276k was spent on Market Square recently one has to wonder just how wisely future underspends will be spent. If it is really used to build Council houses HAP will give the Council it's full support.

2018-08-09 05:49:08

When BH starts quoting yard upon yard of, "I've got the figures, so I know best", you can be sure that something isn't quite kosher. It will be very interesting tenpin, as to what amount of waffle comes back from the MOMENTUM team, who appear to be running Harlow.

2018-08-11 14:23:19

tenpin, I do believe that you may have hit a very tender spot. Await replies with bated breath.

Brett Hawksbee
2018-08-11 16:28:21

Houses will be built by HTS, starting next year, to be let at council rents. No 'tender spot'. I believe the figure for the Market Square is overstated, I believe that the table tennis tables, all on a slope, are Labour's 'plant pots', that both are faintly ludicrous, and I have an 'open mind' about the apparent absence of specific SLA's. This kind of system, exercised with skill, can mean a more responsive and less expensive facility management. Providing a budget with very tight spending criteria produces in some degree, a situation most people are familiar with. A mad rush to often wastefully spend any unspent budget before year end, or 'lose it next year'. But no Mucky,no tender spot... Wider spending criteria can help ensure that the larger part of a budget is directed where it is most effective, or most needed, which criteria can change from budget year to budget year.

2018-08-12 05:50:43

Swallowed another section of the momentum knows it all manual. The figures don't add up. Privy to all the plans in the pipe line, who is BH.

2018-08-12 05:55:01

Whose mucky ? I didn't notice any comments from him. An answer to the query and figures produced by tenpin, of HAP, would have sufficed.

2018-08-12 10:03:04

I still cannot believe that the Council have simply given HTS a wad of money without any sort of service level agreement. They are the client and HTS the contractor, the former must surely have set out what was required of HTS before throwing millions of pounds at it. My original question to the Council was about tree maintenance, where the Council have certain legal responsibilities. It seems from what has been said that if HTS choose not to spend any money on trees, the council have no idea what is going on. If this approach was taken with the PR company, the subject of this article, did the Council set out any expectations or outcomes from the work done by the PR company? Did it have any measures in place to monitor whether they were met? If not, then it was a waste of money. Perhaps Cllr Ingall can enlighten us all on both of these subjects.

2018-08-13 06:21:24

Can this council, and certain officers, be so naive to think that pertinent questions will not be asked. With HAP on the ball, I suggest that they start looking over their collective shoulders. Why is it that B H appears to be aware of all that is happening in council, before the rest of us ? Is he the new,'Alistair Campbell' ?

2018-08-13 16:04:05

BH's last post shows that he has no idea of how Local Government works or indeed how a business is run. Neither Local Government or any commercial operation would on the one hand gives money to someone to do a job, without a full specification of what is required and no one would take on a job without such a specification. Money which looks like it is not going to be spent can always be transferred to other budget heads. Thankfully, as I said before I simply don't believe this can be what is happening, indeed to do so would be unlawful.. The sum quoted for the Market Square is FACT, given to HAP in a Freedom of Information request. Finally, the number of Council homes which will be built at Council rents whilst welcome, are tiny in comparison to the numbers which are needed. Much more needs and can be done (but not on playing fields!).

Brett Hawksbee
2018-08-14 09:15:36

Hmmm... the businesses I have run, and do run, are a matter of public record. Tenpin's criticism is faintly humourous, when we consider that 'giving someone money to do a job without a strict SLA agreement measurement' is precisely what Joel Charles' objection amounts to ... it is the reason this reply thread exists! Afaik, whilst I have run various businesses over a working lifetime (Starting in 1978 with 'Mr B Skateboards' in Harlow, for those old enough to remember) Tenpin in fact navigated the dog eat dog world of Harlow Council Housing Department. Nor did I suggest that the house building programme I referred to was sufficient. It is a start ... This government has just released figures which indicate that just 6,000 homes for social rents were built last year over the entire country, of the almost 100,000 per year required, and that next year will produce similarly pathetic national figures. On that basis, any built by Harlow Council show commitment to a principle, and mean that our council are proportionally more than 'doing their bit.'

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