Harlow residents’ views sought as part of review of turnout in local elections

Harlow Council / Wed 22nd Sep 2021 at 10:59am

HARLOW Council is asking residents for their views on what would help to improve turnout in local elections.

The six-week consultation, which began this week, consists of a survey which residents are being asked to complete. The aim is to try and understand why residents may feel disconnected from local politics and why turnout in local elections is lower than for national elections.

The decision to consult with residents was taken following a report to the council’s Scrutiny Committee on 14 September. You can read a copy of the report at https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=119&MId=1408&Ver=4

Turnout in elections nationally, particularly in local elections, has decreased over the years, as has been seen here in Harlow. The turnout for the last general election in Harlow was 64.04% compared to just 32.42% for May’s council elections. The council wants to get to the root causes of this issue locally and create an action plan to increase voter registration and engagement.

The results of the consultation will be reported to the Scrutiny Committee at its December meeting.

Councillor Tony Edwards, chair of the Scrutiny Committee, said: “This is an important piece of work, which we hope will help to encourage our residents to become more engaged in local democracy and have their say on the issues that matter to them.

“The review will focus on identifying any barriers which residents face when it comes to voting in Harlow. It is not party political in nature and so won’t determine whether there are particular party policies which put voters off from going to the polls. As part of this consultation we will also be contacting community groups to encourage their members to complete the survey so that we can gain as broad a spectrum of opinions as possible.

“We will then analyse the results of the consultation and the action plan we will develop will aim to address those areas highlighted by the consultation.”

Residents can take part in the online consultation at


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8 Comments for Harlow residents’ views sought as part of review of turnout in local elections:

2021-09-22 14:14:36

Someone worth voting for, which at the moment is nobody as most of us are fed up with weasel words and petty arguments.

Chris Vince
2021-09-22 16:13:48

Completely welcome this report. Something I spoke about during my first speech as leader of Labour group. Politicians of all political colours need to really listen to residents even if we find the answers residents hard to hear, we must listen to them and take them onboard! Sadly turnouts in local elections are incredibly low. Only around 30% in May.

Mr Kirkby
2021-09-23 06:24:50

The Reason I see that the local council elections are poorly represented is simple! There are the same people every year running to represent the council and its really a case of get some new faces in office! The town is changing and needs to change and fresh new councillors would embrace the change better than the same old faces! I also dont see why it is so party orientated when really the council is for the local people not whoever is in national political office! Just watch when the local council elections are run and the counts are in all you get is quote! The conservatives or Labour hold on to Harlow! what an earth is this all about when the council is there for the people of Harlow and definatley not there for the Labour or Conservatives to shout home about! We need local fresh faces that independantly of any political views standing for office to run the council for local people! Just dont keep shuffling the pack it just dont work! then perhaps you will see more of a turn out!

Nicholas Taylor
2021-09-23 07:50:50

A good example of this Mr Kirby is what happened at the nearby Council of Uttlesford, where a new local Party was formed by residents in 2012 and within seven years they won twenty seven seats and took control of the Council. We formed the Harlow Alliance Party in January 2018 to give residents in some wards the chance to vote for an independent Party, not wedded to Westminster. To date we have not yet been able to break the Conservative/Labour stranglehold. It is a sad fact that whichever of these two control our Council only about 12% of those who could vote, voted for that Party.

2021-09-23 08:53:54

The problem is that even when residents contact the Council or Cllrs that little seems to get done: Cllrs are more concerned about doing down members from other political parties and telling the electorate what the politicians think would be good for us than really listening. People haven't the time for surveys or consultations like this because normally these documents long, take time to access and are either consciously or unconsciously biased to get responses the authors want or reflect their political views. The basics are clear, listen and survey existing complaints to contact Harlow, Cllrs should share with all Cllrs the issues upon which residents contact them,working together for the benefit of residents, make current services work, like fix pot holes, empty bins, improve amenities, cut pollution and congestion, enhance the quality of life for residents, preserve and improve green spaces and parks, fix cycleways, cut crime, secure better GP services, protect the Stort Valley and town from congestion, pollution and Flooding with surface water, and sewage from the Gilston Harlow North North hggt estate. . It's not rocket science. GET ON WITH THESE ISSUES rather than spending time and money on proposed underground railways, which again is assumed we all would really want. Again no one asked! To put out a consultation on the failure of involvement because the consultation system isn't working isn't the answer, get out and talk, be more direct. And consult in straightforward ways: via Your Harlow and local Social media groups, survey teams in Supermarkets and shopping centres: especially on big issues. But keep it short a direct: Use direct questions like : "Would you want to move PAH to the edge of town ? Here are possible advantages: here are possible disadvantages " Yes or No? Please give reasons:" Done. And agree with previous comments, same old faces, same old responses, whatever the party the bins didn't get emptied and the marketless market Square, that once thrived is still a desolate and dead area. What do we get high rise flats with the Council degeneration team promising more of these awful buildings. Haven't the Council realised that such housing provision was a disaster in the 1950s and are still not wanted (except by property developers) Just a lack of consultation again: we get a survey that fails to ask " What would you like high rise rabbit boxes of private homes or traditional homes with gardens : Council houses or private rental?" But instead get a survey recently that asks "What roof angle and what's the minimum distance between such high rise buildings we are going to build (whatever you think) would you like?" Better consultation and engagement is needed on.the part of the council if residents are going to bother to vote: voting doesn't seem to change anything and a better system of local democracy is needed between elections. Otherwise repeating the same actions again and again and expecting different outcomes is the definition of madness. Einstein I think

Pauline S
2021-09-23 10:29:26

I have three Councillors of the same party in my Ward. I vote for two of them but never the third because that one rarely responds. Another of the same party is supposed to represent me on ECC but again he rarely responds so fails to get my support. I'm not a supporter of any particular party and would not wish to vote Conservative if we had a General Election, but I probably would vote for Robert Halfon because he (as he says) works hard for Harlow residents and has a good response record too.

2021-09-23 13:10:07

Having completed the survey I can say it is definitely flawed, doesn't ask the right questions but implicitly places the blame on the electorate rather than the inability of Councils, Cllrs and politicians to recognise it's their failure to engage and directly consult and act upon each individual issue with the voters that is the root of the problem. When politicians issue manifestos and get elected they extrapolate to assert they have a mandate for everyone of their policies: not so election just means you were the least bad not the best. Also the survey asks for personal information not relevant to the issue and does not allow people to refuse to give such information that's none of their business . I only went on to complete to see what happens. I'd recommend people don't complete the survey but either post in YH and or write to their local Cllrs and Party leaders.

2021-09-24 20:25:11

I recon more people would vote if it was who should get sacked in the actual council staffing’s (*miss) management of (*miss)spending public money. I also believe as the council’s duty is to know, understand and support the community in which it serves, then people who actually live in Harlow should replace those senior management roles who do not. They are out of touch and have no idea. Plant pots and table tennis springs to mind. How on Earth can any political party/independent party make any difference in a community when your dealing with arrogant judgemental sloppy and chaotic leaders who only give a care for their fat pay check at the end of the month holiday and the pension their looking to get. Quite honestly beggars belief. Outdated in knowledge and skills and need replacing. Out of touch with reailty of Harlow,..If we have to wait till they retire we are all screwed for the next 10/20 years regardless of which political party any one bothers to go out and vote.

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