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Letter to Editor: The state of local politics

General / Wed 14th Apr 2021 at 08:22am

Letter to Editor: The State of Local Politics

Dear Editor,

FIRSTLY, I want to thank you for your reporting as we approach the elections on Thursday 6th May. It seems like every time we have elections at any level, your political balance is called into question. I have always found your reporting to be balanced. In my view, balanced political reporting does not mean giving equal weight to those who say it is raining and to those who say it isn’t. Political balance involves sticking your arm outside the window to see whose argument is credible.

As we approach Election Day, I am beginning to take stock of the leaflets I have had pushed through my door and the political narratives that appear in them. I would argue that in their leaflets, the Harlow Labour Party have decided to go on the attack as opposed to defending their record as the incumbents and using that to demonstrate why they believe they are the best party to control the council.

Adversarial and, frankly, divisive politics have little resonance among Harlow voters. This begs the question: why is the Harlow Labour Party trying to attack the Conservatives rather than highlight their own merits? To answer this question, I did some research.

On council tax, data released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that of the twelve district, borough or city councils in Essex, Harlow Council collected the lowest amount of council tax as a percentage of the collectable amount in 2019-20 (see Table 6). In other words, Harlow Council has the worst record out of all local councils in Essex for collecting council tax. Who has to pay the bill for this failure to make sure everyone pays their bit? The answer is those who do pay their council tax, paying more to compensate. No wonder the Harlow Labour Party recently increased Council Tax.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/collection-rates-for-council-tax-and-non-domestic-rates-in-england-2019-to-2020?utm_source=d5fdf9a3-4cd4-4e28-b293-61f939d8f76a&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

This is just one example of the shortcomings of the current administration. To add insult to injury, Harlow Council has also been named the “worst council in Essex” at paying out business grants.

After having control of the council since 2012, the local Labour Party have no choice but to attack their political opponents rather than use their political achievements to try and convince voters that they are the best party to run the council.

In contrast, I have found the optimistic and bright narrative generated by local Conservatives to be more compelling. They have argued well that there is scope to cut Council Tax so that Harlow residents can keep more of the money they earn. It is a no-brainer for me.

Yours sincerely,

A Harlow resident

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