Harlow Labour leader: Tories failing to show leadership over Sumners and Latton Priory plans

General / Mon 20th Sep 2021 at 07:20pm

WHILE many will have seen the announcement that Harlow Council is opposing growth to the south and west of Harlow, what you may not be aware of is what we are in danger of losing – the fight for allocation of council housing which will benefit to Harlow residents. Many may also not be aware of why any of this is happening.

I too have a number of concerns about the development to the South of the town. Sadly the houses are being built outside of Harlow’s boundary, in the Epping Forest district, which as Cllr Danvers pointed out on Thursday is also a Conservative-led authority. 

It is extremely frustrating that our neighbouring councils are building the lion’s share of their housing allocation, (this is the amount of houses they are being expected to build by the Conservative-led government), on our borders.  

That doesn’t mean that the Labour group doesn’t recognise the need for additional housing. We do, and we feel it needs to be the right housing and in the right places.

That is why when we were in control of the council, we started an ambitious plan to build more council housing – some of which is underway now.  The proposed additional housing which is built on the borders of Harlow will not be in Harlow District Council’s control, so will not provide any benefits for existing residents and won’t help to bring down the huge need for council housing so desperately needed in our town. 

When Labour were in charge of the council we were determined not to make it easy for developers, which is why we consistently refused to sell land which would allow access to the new development, both through Sumners and Harlow Common, despite several offers.

We were also pushing for allocation for council housing for Harlow people, so at least the development could be of some benefit to Harlow residents. This is something that seems to have been dropped by the Conservatives.

It’s also important to note that the Conservatives aren’t challenging the development itself, just the lack of infrastructure. 

They seem keen to play political games both in the chamber and in their messages that they send out on social media but not to show any real leadership.

With so many people hopeful for their own homes and concerned for the town’s future, we do not feel that this is the right way to treat Harlow’s residents. 

Over the next few months myself and my fellow Labour Councillors and activists will continue to do what we have always done – talk to local residents, listen to their views, and work collaboratively with them to form a future vision for our town which is both ambitious and achievable.

Chris Vince

Leader of Harlow Labour Group

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12 Comments for Harlow Labour leader: Tories failing to show leadership over Sumners and Latton Priory plans:

Nicholas Taylor
2021-09-20 22:53:42

This statement from the leader of the Labour group is the height of hypocrisy on a number of levels. The previous Labour administration signed the agreement with neighbouring Councils back in 2017 to create The Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, part of which is formed by theses thousands of homes in the EFDC area. There will not be any council homes on this land which is being bought up by property developers. Epping Forest DC do have a significant council house building programme on sites they own elsewhere in their district but they have hundreds of families on their housing waiting list and will no doubt give no undertaking to house residents from Harlow. As for consulting residents, Labour not only completely failed to do this, they actively took steps to avoid contact with residents. The simple fact is, the Planning Inspector of the EFDC Local Development Plan took no account of the effect these developments would have on those of us who already live and work in the town. Labour are now playing the same political game as the Tories, holding up their hands in mock horror. I would remind readers that only The Harlow Alliance party have been in opposition to these developments when it really mattered, that is back in 2019 when the local Plan of EFDC was at it's earliest stages.

2021-09-21 00:27:21

Obviously they are useless…

2021-09-21 05:43:43

Thank you Nick for setting the record straight. I attended one of the meetings HAP arranged to brief residents on these plans a few years ago, and at which BOTH Labour and Conservative councillors attended ( the former trying to take over the proceedings as I recall) . At this meeting it was apparent NEITHER party had taken any steps to protect or inform the people of Harlow . There was a consensus of shoulder shrugging and passive “there’s nothing that can be done” . It now seems that the political capital of buck passing has sparked the parties into action .. alas probably too late. It’s somewhat disappointing also that the Labour group cannot at least acknowledge and call out HAP’s efforts.. but of course that would expose the failures that led us to this situation in the first place. If there is anything to be done here fir HARLOW, then perhaps the parties can for once work together for the good of the town , not their short term petty point scoring after the fact. Again, I fear old habits die hard , and it’s much easier to spout this sort of drivel, rather than actually doing anything useful .. such is the nature of modern “politics”.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-09-21 07:21:13

Tiredoffailedpoliticalnorms ..... HAP were the only Party to hold any meaningful attempt to inform residents about what was going on and you may recall that I let the Labour representative, the late Cllr Purton speak, who was of course in complete agreement to the proposal to build to the south and west of Harlow. He was quickly shouted down by most of those present and when asked, Cllr Hardware more or less shrugged his shoulders and said there was little the Tories could do. They could have done something, by making representations to the Planning Inspector but chose not to. If you watch the films of recent Council meetings you will see that the animosity between the two Parties continues unabated, which demonstrates the poor leadership that exists on both sides. I think your name reflects the feelings of many residents in Harlow, that they are being let down by their elected representatives,

Alan Leverett
2021-09-21 07:28:19

As the inspector on the Epping Local Plan examination will not take any comment on the main submission from the Conservative or Labour in Harlow perhaps it would be good for residents to sign the HAP petition to go to the Housing Ministet Michal Gove this week to halt preceding on the Epping Examination ovf thier plan. Petition accessed via www.harlowcallianceparty.org

Michael Hatton
2021-09-21 09:03:04

Chris Vince is still suffering badly from, FIMS, also known as, ' foot in mouth syndrome '. I doubt that he will ever improve.

Michael Hardware
2021-09-21 13:00:15

Nick, the Conservative Group has opposed and voted against development plans brought forward by the previous Labour administration for well over decade, whether that is south and west of the town or the Harlow plan itself. This position did not change when we came to power, hence the motion last week. Despite all the warm words from Labour, the group did reverse Harlow's objection to development in 2017 and has supported development south and west ever since. There was nothing the Conservatives, in opposition, or any other party could do about that. The Epping local plan has progressed and the Conservatives may have come to power too late to be able to reverse the damage done by Labour, we will see what the inspector says.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-09-21 15:24:42

Michael, you know as well as I do that if your group had really wanted to object to the EFDC proposals the time to do that was to the planning Inspector prior to the examination hearings in 2019 and to make your views known at those hearings. Objecting to these proposals in the Council chamber at Harlow had and will not have any affect on the outcome. Your submission now will probably not even reach the Planning Inspector in view of what she has said. Your Party made no attempt to involve residents in Harlow during the last four years, only the Harlow Alliance Party held public meetings about this subject and about the loss of green space in Harlow's Local Plan. Our letter to the Housing Minister appealing for him to intervene is about to be delivered, supported by some 700 residents. We have been knocking on doors for the last three weeks, many residents have still not been aware of what is going on. At Wellesley for instance the back gardens are just 12 feet from the EFDC proposals. It is simply not right that residents in Harlow have not been made aware of all this. You should be appealing to you Conservative colleagues at EFDC to remove these elements of their Plan, there are good ground to do so .... we will let you know what they are in the next few days! PS It is Nich

2021-09-21 16:02:41

What about the Potholes you promised to get filled in when you we’re canvassing for votes in May. Regarding the house building projects , I’m afraid the Horse has bolted the Stable. Your just wasting council tax money, looking forward to my reduced council tax bill next year.

2021-09-21 20:13:16

Michael, I recall that your also attended the HAP meeting I mentioned above, and I actually discussed with you at that time why the Conservatives had completely failed to inform local residents of the planned development to the south of Harlow . I remember very clearly your response brig effectively … “there was no point” .. I was incredulous then … and aghast now that you still seem to think this is an acceptable position. Harlow councillors of all parties collectively failed the town and its electorate. To see you now all scrabbling to claim some sort of retrospective moral high ground is quite frankly as pathetic as it is distasteful. There is no political high ground here… both parties are simply thrashing around in a pit of political incompetence and neglect for your town/electorate. That, alas, is the reality of the situation. Please don’t insult us more by playing the innocent here.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-09-21 22:49:43

Just to follow on from the last point made, a check on the time line in respect of the public meeting with residents held by The Harlow Alliance Party, when submissions had to be made and when the Planning Inspector started her examination of the EFDC Local Plan, the Conservative Group in Harlow did have time to make their objections known, but chose not to and never even bothered to attend as observers. As I said at the meeting in 2019, our MP is the "champion" of a larger Harlow and to make up the housing numbers this has to include all the new homes to the south and west of the town. Any further comment Michael?

2021-09-22 18:22:08

Or Mr Vince, for that matter? You seem surprisingly silent given that it was your letter that prompted this most illuminating dialogue, and that it was your Party that signed off these plans in the first place? Selective amnesia perhaps?

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