Harlow Council leader reflects on achievements over last year

News / Sun 19th Jul 2020 at 09:18am

THE leader of Harlow Council, Cllr Mark Ingall reflected on the achievements of the Labour-run organisation in the last year.

Cllr Ingall said: “As well as thanking Harlow residents for the sacrifices they have made in preventing the spread of Covid and recognising that many families have been touched by grief, Harlow’s Labour Leader listed the achievements the Council had made and the promises delivered.

“Councillors please cast your minds back to more normal times, June 2019. As part of volunteers’ week, we thanked Harlow’s many volunteers, most notably in a special ceremony to honour the 1,900 residents who helped clean up Harlow as part of the Great British Spring Clean, who collected more than 400 bags of litter from the streets and parks of Harlow for removal and recycling by HTS.

We extended CCTV in Old Harlow in an area affected by antisocial behaviour.

The “Bush Fair Fayre” returned for the third successive year, the “Great Get Together” took place in the Town Park.

The month ended with the “Big Weekender” which saw a “makers market” in market square and the return of Harlow Carnival. The finale was a fantastic live music event, which saw our new Chair of the Council dancing in the street.

In July, in a move that’s particularly close to my own heart, this Council declared a climate emergency committing us to a number of actions to prevent climate change and improve the quality of life in our town now and for future generations.

Our Town Park and Parndon Wood again won Green Flag awards. The Park went on to make it a hat trick when they subsequently won a gold standard award for a new inclusive playground and when Pets’ Corner was inducted into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame

August saw a number of “hands on” STEAM sessions being held.

The inclusive playground at Pets’ corner was officially opened. It caters for all ages and abilities and has proved a huge hit making play accessible to all.

Harlow was one of just 100 places to be invited by Government to develop innovative regeneration plans following our success at being shortlisted for the next stage of the Future High Streets Fund.

An independent consultation took place over the summer on the future of the paddling pools. These findings helped the council agree health and safety works and other improvements to secure their future as paddling pools and make them even better when they reopen next year. We thank the public for making their views known and Martin Dear for his petition.

Town Centre Public Space Protection Orders came into effect in August, following public consultation. The orders ban cycling through the Town Centre, ball games and drinking alcohol in public to protect Town Centre users and businesses.

In September the third annual Town Centre Awards were another huge success, celebrating our town centre and the people that make it what it is.

September was the month Enfield Council announced that they will no longer place their families in Redstone House in Harlow town centre; soon to be followed by other Councils, both Labour and Conservative, declaring their intention to stop out of borough placements in Harlow. There is so much more to do on this of course, and Government action is what’s really needed. I fear however that “Permitted development 2”, promised by the Prime Minister, hasthe potential to make matters worse.

In October, four months ahead of the national target, we met our commitment to eliminate “single-use plastics” from all our council buildings

Harlow Town Park was named among the 10 best green spaces in the country from a list of 1,800 other sites.

The transformation of Oakwood Pond won a Harlow Architectural Design Award

The Active Harlow Awards to honour local sporting heroes was held in the Council Chamber.

We once again supported the Black History Month multi-cultural festival in Market Square.

The Harlow streets lights agreement was renewed with the County Council until 2023 keeping street lights on after midnight.

Finally in October, the Council supported the opening of Harlow College and Public Health England’s new Construction Skills Centre, a purpose built facilityproviding training for adults interested in working in construction, ensuring our residents can derive benefit from new developments.

I’m sure we can all remember the stunning display of poppies falling from the balcony of the Civic Centre unveiled in November, a poignant tribute to soldiers who’ve lost their lives in conflict. The tribute was made up of over 3,000 knitted and crocheted poppies; it was created by Harlow-based artist Val Fitz-John, supported by the council, Harlow Royal British Legion and a number of residents who helped make and sew on the poppies.

Another hugely successful bonfire night was held in the town park.

In December a new scheme to provide much-needed parking was completed in Hookfield as part of an ongoing programme to improve residential parking across the town

The annual educational progress awards were held at the Playhouse with 83 young people being rewarded for their educational achievements.

A public sculpture which is a centerpiece of Harlow Science Park was unveiled; it became the 100th piece in Harlow’s public sculpture collection. It’s unveiling also marked the completion of the first phase of construction.

In January another climate pledge was met. We smashed our annual tree planting target of 1000 trees by planting over 5,000 trees in just two months!

£3,000 was raised for St Clare Hospice after over 700 Christmas tree collections were booked by residents. All fees charged to residents were donated to the hospice with Veolia matching every donation.

Harlow Council joined with other local authorities in Essex to do our bit for the planet and join the ‘Love Essex Not Plastic’ movement.

A poignant Holocaust Memorial Service was held in the Civic Centre and I consider myself lucky to have been invited to it

In February we announced a new cheaper garden waste collection service,dropping the cost from £96 a year to £42 for existing customers. The start of the service was suspended due to the pandemic, but the number of subscriptions has now increased from 1,000 households to 2,600.

In our continued efforts to end the placing of people in Harlow’s converted office blocks I backed a national call by the Local Government Association to scrap office conversions and wrote to over 70 council leaders in London and the south east of England.

The success of Harlow’s spring clean campaign was recognised at a national awards ceremony in February when we were shortlisted for the Great British Spring Clean award at the Keep Britain Tidy annual awards ceremony. Next time let’s win it.

We approved our budget in February which protected services and jobs for a seventh year running. Some achievement given that over the same period funding from government continues to get cut.

Our housing budget announced funding for the start of a £12m house buildingprogramme

The council successfully secured further funding to continue supporting rough sleepers and providing services at Bromley Cottages

In March new tenants moved in as phase two the BCA estate was completed. The £71m regeneration of the The Briars, Copshall Close and Aylets Field, a joint partnership between Harlow Council, Countryside Properties, and Home Group is helping to provide much-needed homes. When completed, it will include a total of 346 new homes and 48% of these will have been allocated to people on Harlow’s housing needs register.

Another Climate Pledge was met at the end of March. The council reduced its CO2 emissions by 692 tonnes a 38.5% reduction. Another green target met and this one achieved a year early.

Seated workouts were launched at our Leah Manning Centre to support and motivate elderly residents with physical exercise to help improve mobility and prevent falls.

And consultation got underway on the inspector’s main modifications to the local plan. The plan will be a catalyst in regenerating and shaping development in Harlow up to 2033, creating a vibrant town for people and businesses.

Chair, this Council is a Council that delivers on the issues that matter to residents.

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