Frustrated residents call for Harlow Council officers to return to their desks

General / Fri 13th Aug 2021 at 08:37am

A NUMBER of residents have called for Harlow Council employees to return to their offices.

On four occasions last week, resident have told us:

  1. I am trying to finalise a house sale but there is a delay accessing property deeds as a Harlow Council employee is working from home.
  2. There is a delay in a licensing application for my bar as the relevant Harlow Council employee is working from home.
  3. Moving council house is slow as the council officer is only in the office one day a week.
  4. There was a delay in my planning application as the relevant planning officer is working remotely and remotely is abroad.

Residents have told YH that they don’t understand why working from a desk in their house is making them less efficient? Many feel they should now be back at the Water Gardens or other council hubs.

Councillor Andrew Johnson, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “A number of council staff are already physically back in their workplace and providing face-to-face services to customers again. The Playhouse, Pets’ Corner, Harlow Museum, Leah Manning Centre, Sam’s Place, the Latton Bush Centre and Civic Centre reception have all reopened in the last few months.

Contact Centre staff have been coming into the Civic Centre throughout the whole of the pandemic and have been the first point of contact for all customers over the phone.

Revenues and Benefits staff have also been in the office as well as those supporting the work of the Community Hub and those advising businesses on restrictions.

Between lockdowns most teams have had small numbers of staff in the offices on a rota-basis to help prevent reinfection and to keep people safe. While more of our staff will return to the office, in future it is expected that the large majority of office-based staff who can work from home will split their working week between coming into the office and working at home. As part of any arrangements we will continue working with our staff to ensure that residents and businesses receive the service they expect.”

“In what has been a challenging last 18 months for everyone, for the council and other public sector organisations there has been benefits from home working.

Working from home has enabled council staff to support and deliver services while they have either had to self-isolate from the virus, been shielding, had the virus themselves or cared for a family member.

Instead of staff taking this time off work or as sick leave they have been able to work from home and contributed to the town-wide effort to limit the spread of this virus.

“Ensuring that our residents and businesses receive good quality services from the council is very important to me and if anyone experiences an issue accessing any council service at any time they can contact me by email at [email protected]

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10 Comments for Frustrated residents call for Harlow Council officers to return to their desks:

2021-08-13 12:37:57

I'm disabled, stuck in a first floor flat and with the length of time its taking to get me moved I bet i will be able to apply for OAP sheltered accommodation before I get moved

2021-08-13 12:59:47

Is Councillor Johnson serious? I had to wait on the phone for almost 22 minutes to speak to somebody. Is this the same Councillor Johnson who promised to set up an email for residents contact him on issues. Well, nobody at the Council even knows about this so-called email. I imagine he has even bothered to set it up to hear all the complaints he would get. He is full of wind. This Administration is a joke. Promised the world and done nothing! Get staff back or cut the numbers. We are paying for this terrible service. It is a disgrace.

2021-08-13 16:20:09

@Ken if you actually read the story Councillor Johnson has provided his email address.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-08-13 23:08:51

Brian, Cllr Johnson made a speech at the last Full Council meeting early last month in which he stated that he wanted to hear from residents about their ideas for the future of Harlow and gave details of a specific email address for residents to contact him. To date no such email address appears to exist. I am aware of other residents not receiving any response from the Council.

2021-08-13 23:22:56

Get back to the office everyone is in the same boat it’s ok for everyone else to work all year just another excuse in my eyes

2021-08-14 02:55:17

Get back to work you lazy so and sos

2021-08-14 10:43:12

Nicholas Taylor is right, Cllr Johnson just talks. In Church Langley, where he is supposed to be a councillor we never see or hear from him. He is a useless windbag! How he can be Leader of the Council is beyond belief.

2021-08-14 13:18:20

The ironic thing is no officers or councillors . we’re furlong in any shut down and all have been paid full wages throughout. The council say they have worked since day one but that’s a cover up! The councils press officers are about as useful as a chocolate fire guard, they think everyone has internet again complete rubbish and hasn’t written to residents on updates. Councillors on both sides allow officers to do as they wish and that’s incorrect the councillors run this town not officers. As a minister said this week if officers don’t return to the office then they must take a pay cut. Get on with it!!!!!

2021-08-14 23:41:11

You lot are pathetic cry babies... the entire world is still under partial and recovering lockdowns. Give it some time and everything will return to normal. Just be a little more patient, Christ.

2021-08-15 10:14:33

I have a long overdue stage one complaint - delay due to pandemic apparently. I work for a large London Council as our responses to complaints and Member Enquires within target times has been maintained - using the pandemic as an excuse for poor service is shocking

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