Harlow Conservatives: “White flag by Harlow Labour may make it open season for unlawful traveller encampments in our town”
News / Tue 14th Jul 2020 pm31 02:05pm
THE MP for Harlow and the leader of the Harlow Conservative group have issued a joint statement in response to the decision by the Labour-run Harlow Council to not ask for another extension to the injunction of unlawful traveller encampments in the town.
The statement by Robert Halfon and Andrew Johnson is as follows.
“Potentially, the decision made not to pursue an injunction in the courts, could be a disaster for our town. For years, in Parliament, I worked hard to toughen up the laws on unauthorised and illegal encampments, held meetings with police officials and raised these issues in a House of Commons debate, to ensure tough action was taken. Under the strong leadership of the former leader of Harlow Council, Jon Clempner, an injunction was granted.
“Whilst the Labour Council seem to have held up the white flag, we need to find out the reasons why. Why was there no consultation before the Labour Council made this decision? Is it because Labour Party activists are well known to be sceptical about action against unauthorised encampments and have previously made statements of support for those trespassing? Why did the Labour Council not look at every possible scenario in advance of the injunction’s expiry? Why did the Labour Council not consult with the MP or leader of the Conservative Group on Harlow Council before making this decision? Why did the Council not bring this matter to a Full Council meeting before making these fundamental policy decisions that could have a negative impact on the wellbeing of our town?
“The truth is that whilst the Leader of the Labour Council has been virtue-signalling and distracted, jumping on every political bandwagon going and spending time trying to rename the Rhodes Arts Complex in Bishop’s Stortford, his eye is off the ball as to the issues that really matter in our town. There seems to have been complacency that an extension would just be guaranteed by the court and that the Council would not need to build a renewed evidence base to gain an injunction. Residents of the town want to know what action the Council plans to take to stop illegal encampments over the summer.
“The Labour Council has effectively given the green light for unauthorised groups to trespass our town, once again.
“As MP and Leader of the Conservative Group on Harlow Council, we have written to the Police Commissioner and Chief Constable at Essex Police seeking an urgent meeting and asking what measures they will take to stop any incursions over the summer, there must be zero tolerance without equivocation towards illegal encampments.
“In Parliament, as MP, I will continue to do everything I can to toughen laws against illegal encampments and trespass, however, it is vital that both the local authority and police use the strong powers they have under existing legislation.”
Spot on comment, disgraceful attitude from Ingall and his nodding donkeys.
Absolute rubbish and misinformation from Harlow Tories, Unfortunately this is increasingly becoming the norm from them. Here are some facts. 1) At no stage have I ever been involved in a campaign to rename an arts complex in Bishops Stratford. I have enough to do here in Harlow. 2) The application to extend the injunction explored every option available. 3) The application was a joint piece of work between Harlow Labour controlled Council and Essex Conservative controlled County Council 4) Harlow Council did not wave a white flag, we withdrew over application due to advice from our barrister that this was the best course of action to take for the long term protection of our green spaces from illegal encampments. Both Mr Halfon and Mr Johnson should be aware of all of these facts. I question why they are trying to misrepresent them and mislead the residents of Harlow. They should be ashamed.
I was disappointed to read this article as it is misleading and clear political point scoring from the opposition. Ironic considering they enjoy accusing us of doing the same at any opportunity. Equally ironic they want to criticise Cllr Ingall's leadership when they've got the shambles that is Boris Johnson as their leader. If Cllr Ingall was running the country there would be considerably less dithering at PMQs! - a nodding donkey :-)
It comes as no surprise that the Tories are complaining. Surely the legal advice not to proceed could have been explained and made known to residents weeks before the expiry of the injunction? This information should have appeared on the agenda of a cabinet meeting not long after we in The Harlow Alliance Party raised this subject back in February. At that time Cllr Ingall seemed confident that further legal action would be successful. Nothing has changed since then so why has the legal advise changed now? A full explanation would give residents a better understanding of a complex issue. We are after-all, looking for the same outcome.