Shock as cost of security for Prentice Place revealed

General / Sat 17th Jul 2021 at 09:44am

THE NEW Head of Housing at Harlow Council has revealed the cost of security at Prentice Place whilst the flats in Potter Street were being refurbished.

Conservative councillor Simon Carter was responding to a question from Alan Leverett of the Harlow Alliance Party at Thursday night’s meeting of Harlow Council.

Mr Leverett asked: “It is pleasing to see at long last the occupation of the flats at Prentice Place.

With a new administration, is the public going to be informed of the true reason for a delay of over a year from what appeared completion of the project to actual occupation?

It was also evident that 24 hour security of the flats was provided to protect them from any unwanted occupation or damage. Can the council please inform me of the cost of this service what budget it was taken from?

Cllr Carter replied:

“Thank you for your question Mr Leverett.

It is pleasing to see that after years of delay under Labour we have been able to allocate these properties to ten homeless families. The scheme began in 2008/9 under a Conservative administration so you could say it has come full circle.

The delays to the completion to Prentice Place occurred because:

  1. a)  The fire stopping between the retail and residential units did not meet current fire safety regulations and therefore needed to be upgraded.
  2. b)  Issues with electrical distribution.
  3. c)  The doors specified in the original drawings complied with building regulations at that time. However, at the time of completion, building regulations had been changed and updated, requiring alternative fire doors to be installed.

Although the fitting of the alternative doors could not be legally enforced, as the structure of the building had not been altered, as a local authority, the decision was taken that we should be fully compliant with the current fire safety and building regulations, to enable the properties to be offered to people from the housing register.

As you will see, some of the delays were caused by the extreme delay between drawing up the specifications for the scheme and actually implementing them.

The overall expenditure, for security services at Prentice Place is £209,900.06 over a three year period. The overall percentage split is per below:

a) Regeneration – 25 percent
b) PropertyandFacilities–50percent

c) Housing–25percent

Film of the exchange is below.

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17 Comments for Shock as cost of security for Prentice Place revealed:

2021-07-17 10:04:56

It's because it's public money and it's so easy to spend it when there is no accountability and so it goes on with all councils be they local or county. If private firms were run like public authorities they would be bankrupt. Also add over staffing and gold plated pensions.

2021-07-17 13:45:49

Only the Harlow Alliance Party have been asking such searching questions in public. Another example of the failed Labour administration. When you put this sum together with the cost of refurbishment, it comes out at about £200k per flat. Another factor to put into the equation is the amount of rent that has been lost during the very many years these flats were left empty.

gary roberts
2021-07-17 19:12:09

"Only the Harlow Alliance Party have been asking such searching questions in public." Really? And what is the evidence to support that statement?

gary roberts
2021-07-17 19:42:42

As for Cllr. Carter well I can produce emails dating back to 2006 on this subject. So perhaps he is mistaken as well. If the Conservatives want to take credit for something please at least check the facts before doing so. Makes a good story though to feed the public. Further I hope Cllr. Swords will have the courtesy of informing the local residents' group when "developments" are produced relating to Osler House.

gary roberts
2021-07-18 10:10:35

Further to my comments above, I can confirm that I personally went to every shop and the pub in Prentice Place and spoke to the managers' of those places at the time asking if they would be prepared to contribute to the installation of CCTV in the area. All bar one shop signed up to do so in principle. This form was submitted to the council.

2021-07-18 10:40:04

I may stand corrected Gary. The Harlow Alliance Party have been tabling questions about Prentice Place at Full Council meetings since last December and reported in yourharlow. I feel sure that residents have scratched their heads and asked themselves such questions every time they visited the area in the last 15 years or so or when attending the Latton Common Residents Association, where only the Labour Party are allowed to be represented and Parties such as HAP were barred from attending.

2021-07-18 14:26:18

Earlier post should have read Harlow Common Residents Association.

gary roberts
2021-07-18 18:59:56

I am surprised at the following comment from tenpin: "when attending the Latton [Harlow] Common Residents Association, where only the Labour Party are allowed to be represented and Parties such as HAP were barred from attending." Why? Well a very prominent member of the Harlow Common Residents Association stood for council for the ward as a Harlow Alliance Party candidate. In addition no resident in the Harlow Common ward is banned from attending its meetings. Further it is at the discretion of the group and the chair to decide who from outside the ward is invited to attend. The ward councillors are always in my experience invited to attend to discuss the local issues.

2021-07-19 15:29:11

Labour were running the council so how many of the councillors " friends" got contracts , will we ever know

Nicholas Taylor
2021-07-19 21:32:07

Gary ... and when our candidate and I some time later asked if HAP's could present their views on matters appertaining to the ward and town we a were told we could not because the organisation was non political. But Ward Councillors can attend and give information to the group with the Labour spin, I wonder if for example did they ever explain that a field at Radburn Close and behind Hawthorns was to be included in Labour's Local Plan, for dozens of homes to be built on, indeed did they ever come along and talk about the Local Plan. Did they ever discuss the implications of Latton Priory with the group, if they did they would have put their own view on this. Only because of the actions of HAP was the former not included in the Plan. I will stand corrected if I am wrong.

gary roberts
2021-07-20 08:43:16

Mr. Taylor when the Harlow Common Residents Association was created it was agreed by the Association that its first core principle was that it was independent of all political interference. That meant the group only invited those from outside the ward who could help deal with the issues raised by its membership. And despite the council trying to interfere they were told in no uncertain terms to go forth and multiple. Your candidate and member of the group could have raised the issues he was concerned about and asked for them to be discussed. If the group agreed the most relevant offical would have been invited to discuss the issue with the hope of it being resolved. All ward councillors were invited because they could help resolve members concerns directly: That was their job. The county councillor for the area was also invited to attend. I believe that is why the association is still active and still pushing for Osler House to be reopened.

2021-07-20 21:11:51

Gary ...... so did the Labour Councillors bring to the group the issues I raised in my earlier post? I think not, because they only wanted you to hear what they wanted to say. The fact is, the council lists a number of Residents Associations on it's website and there are many others in the town. but we know that it made no effort to disseminate information about the Local Plan and many other issues via these groups. My attempt to highlight the issues affecting the ward was rebuffed, unlike other Residents Associations who were only to happy to hear our point of view and indeed be made aware of what was/is going on. Telling the Council not to interfere is not the same as telling it to Labour or indeed any Party. In view of what you say, I presume the Conservative Councillor will now be invited.

gary roberts
2021-07-21 08:44:12

"so did the Labour Councillors bring to the group the issues I raised in my earlier post?" So tenpin what is it that you do not understand? The members' of the Association decide the issues to address not the councillors. And your candidate and prominent member had many opportunties to address the group on the issues he wanted to raise. I hope you are not suggesting he was not competent to raise his concerns or to ask for them to be addressed. If you are I suspect he would be offended at that suggestion and would want to take that up directly with you. Being independent means just that and if other groups want you to speak with them that is their decision. The Association I started and developed would not tolerate interference of any sort or invite those who they considered didn't deal with their concerns. The current chair of the Asssociation would I suspect be offended at the suggestion the county councillor for the area was treated differently from the ward councillors, and so would I.

gary roberts
2021-07-21 12:25:15

Of course the issues raised by Mr. Taylor and tenpin in their later postings have nothing to do with the substance of the article and my responses to those were made to defend the integrity of the Harlow Common Residents Association and its members.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-07-21 23:15:28

Sorry to prolong this "debate". Well Gary, clearly things are very different from the 1980' 1990's and early 2000's when Harlow Council was at the forefront of councils engaging with and involving residents. The days when Harlow Council used Area Committees, Tenant Advisory Groups and Residents Associations (those who wanted to be involved) to disseminate information, gage the views of residents and involve them in the Council's decision making process seem to be long gone. If Residents Associations decide on the issues they want to discuss they can only do so on issues they know of. This is one of the reasons why so many residents no longer know what is going on in the town. In the past collectively hundreds of residents would attend the meetings I have described. What we have now is Cllr Johnson asking residents to email him with ideas, assuming everyone has a computer, has English is their first language and know what is going on in the first place. Not sure what you mean by your last point, mine was that Harlow Common now has a Conservative Harlow Council Ward Councillor.

gary roberts
2021-07-22 06:10:18

Well Mr. Taylor let me tell you I was involved in most of the groups you mention in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's and sadly your suggestion that the council was engaging with tenants' or residents is sadly overcooked. The council used, not engaged, those groups in an attempt to show they were listening to them. They did not listen! If your former candidate is still around ask him, you might learn something about tenant participation back then. Finally, what don't you understand about the term "ward councillor"? To repeat all ward councillors' were/are invited to meetings.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-07-22 11:12:30

As the area Housing Manager at the Stow for 12 years and subsequently the Neighbourhood Manager at Bush Fair and Potter Street I am disappointed to hear that you felt that the Council were not engaging with residents in past decades. All 7 neighbourhoods were given a budget each year which residents decided on how it was spent, I recall that in Bush Fair residents wanted to see dropped kerbs constructed on main path routes to give better access to the shops and other services and in Potter Street a play area was refurbished. Planning Applications came under greater scrutiny when dealt with locally and there were many more examples I could give. The Council would listen but could not always agree with resident on every issue, there were times when residents could not agree amongst themselves. The simple fact is, these days the COUNCIL make little effort to engage with residents, evidenced by their failed Local Plan proposals and the total lack of information provided about the effects of the Harlow and Gilston Town proposals on those of us who already live here. I will not post any further comments, we have strayed from the key point, the long delays in getting Prentice Place completed and the amount it cost for security.

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