Is the future uncertain for Discover Harlow?
Business / Sun 25th Jul 2021 at 10:39am
AN ambitious project to promote Harlow to the wider world has been put on hold by the new Conservative-run administration at Harlow Council.
Discover Harlow was launched in 2018 with much fanfare.
The launch event was attended by over 80 organisations.
At the time it was promoted by the Portfolio Holder for Community Well-Being as “a planned approach to promoting Harlow that will continue for many years to come. The initiative is backed by local businesses, organisations and key individuals, more than 100 of whom took part in the lengthy consultation process which informed the final campaign.”
But the Conservatives, when in opposition, were somewhat sceptical about the value of the project and concerned about the cost.
At the time, deputy leader of the Harlow Conservatives, Cllr Joel Charles said:
“Nobody disagrees that we need to promote Harlow and attract inward investment, but this PR campaign was doomed to failure from the outset. There are no formal measures of success or specific targets for achieving value for money. I am also surprised that no case studies promoting businesses in the town or residents’ stories were used to help tell others, as part of the campaign, why Harlow is a great place to live.
“Labour Councillors have needlessly wasted taxpayers’ money on a rushed PR campaign. There are serious questions about how Harlow Council manages and controls costs when they commission PR consultants.”
The development of the Discover Harlow campaign cost £47,500 for phase one, (the development/consultation phase), just under £16,500 for phase 2,( launch and implementation) and the materials and showreel which bring the initiative to life cost just over £19,000.
The much praised Head of Discover Harlow, Sharon Summerfield is set to leave her post and has not, we understand, been replaced.
A Harlow Council spokesperson said: “As we move cautiously out of lockdown, the council’s focus will be increasingly on Harlow’s economic and social recovery.
It is the intention of the administration to conduct a review of Discover Harlow and its future purpose with local partners.
The administration is keen to work with community leaders, businesses and organisations like the local Chamber of Commerce to focus on attracting inward investment into Harlow to boost the recovery from COVID-19.
“Sharon is moving on to take up a new exciting role in the community and we would like to take this opportunity to wish Sharon well for the future.”
Below is the film of the launch event.
We should build on success not destroy it just because it was a Labour idea.
It may have been a Labour idea but what a cost! Perhaps more important, what has it achieved to date?
Well they kept that quiet didn't they.
If you want some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), how about this: - A great guest speaker to A level Geography students on a real-world rebranding case study. - Showcasing young trusteeship via the monthly blog. - Networking key figures across sectors, which led to another guest speaker for an A level class and wider work on ecology and grass-roots responses to climate change. - A formal visual language to create a Harlow identity across all sectors and industries. The list goes on - don't scrap something that is clearly working and brings great benefit to Harlow's wider community.