Conservative leader of Harlow District Council announces resignation

General / Mon 4th Oct 2021 at 08:03am

CONSERVATIVE councillor Andrew Johnson has this morning announced his resignation as Leader of Harlow Council. He made the following statement:

“I have been hugely honoured and privileged to be able to play my part in helping our community for nearly a quarter of a century, firstly being elected as a councillor in 1998 at the age of just 21, then as Leader of the Conservative Group and then finally and incredibly to become the first Conservative Leader of the Council in the town’s history.

“I was so grateful to the people of Harlow for their faith in me and my team, that earlier this year, we regained control of Harlow District Council with the largest number of councillors that we have ever had. It seems a very long way since that May evening in 1998 when I alone was the only Conservative representation in the whole of Harlow.

“Of course, being elected in my early 20’s and retaining the leadership ever since has not come without some large personal costs. Whilst I do not begrudge for a single second being able to serve my community, it is entirely fair to say that doing so whilst holding down a full-time job, gaining career promotion, getting married, starting a family and even undergoing a kidney transplant has not always been easy. I had made my mind up some time ago, in discussions with my family, that I would resign as Leader of the Conservative Group in my 25th year of service.

“Then came the pandemic.

“Over the course of the last couple of years we have all lived through the most extraordinary of times. Given it was so soon after my transplant I was termed Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and was forced to shield with only my immediate family. Like so many others as this pandemic has begun to pass, I have had the opportunity to reflect, pray and reprioritise, realising now more than ever how precious and just how fleeting life can be.

“To this end, it is with a heavy heart that I have chosen to resign as Leader.

“There are so many dreams and aspirations that I have put on hold to best serve the residents of Harlow and I feel now is the appropriate time to pursue some of these. Working as I do for the NHS, there are huge pressures on us following the pandemic that will take much time and effort to resolve; I want to play my party fully in that endeavour with my fantastic team at Addenbrookes and that will require an even greater call upon my time. Equally, I think after almost a quarter of a century the time has come for to devote much more of my time to being a husband and father.

“I will always be hugely proud of the achievements we as Conservatives have managed to deliver for our residents with the help and commitment of not just the current crop of Conservative Councillors but with the many that have served with me throughout the last two and a half decades. I thank them all for their kindness, support, loyalty and professionalism, often in the face of very tough moments for our town.

“Looking back over the last couple of decades, we took a council which had been formally labelled ‘poor’ by the Government and was in peril of being run centrally by a government Inspector, working collaboratively with other parties, to become not only a ‘Good’ council but were shortlisted as ‘council of the year’. We rescued the Town’s finances and brought us back from the brink of bankruptcy.

“We were able to influence both the local, regional and national growth agenda working with our MPs, stakeholders, partners and the local community to develop and promote Harlow, brining an Enterprise Hub and a University Campus. We lobbied for a brand new hospital, first class educational provision and made it possible for public bodies such as Public Health England to want to relocate to Harlow at the heart of the UK innovation corridor.

“We have always understood the jewels in the crown for Harlow and have preserved, protected, and enhanced much loved council services such as the Playhouse, Pets’ Corner and the Museum giving them autonomy to become more self-sufficient by opening up new revenue streams. We protected and continue to protect all of these services by being more efficient against a backdrop of a low council tax policy and indeed the first ever Council Tax cut in our towns history so that people could keep more of their hard-earned money; I know that the group will wish to keep cutting council tax where they can.

“I am tremendously proud of all these successes and so many others. When I entered politics all those years ago, I had a very simple stated aim. I wanted to help people and make Harlow a greater place to live, work and socialise; I believe that I have delivered on that and with the Governments levelling up agenda I believe a very bright future lies ahead for our Town.

“I want to thank the wonderful residents of our town who have consistently placed their faith in me, the hardworking staff of the council and my colleagues, in all political parties who have, politics aside, always managed to show kindness outside of the council chamber.

“Despite all of our successes there is still much work to be done and shortly the Conservative Group will meet after our Party Conference to elect the new Leader of the Group and the New Leader of the Council; in the interim Cllr Joel Charles as Deputy Leader of the Group will act as interim Leader of the Council.

“I wish my successor the greatest success and tell them in advance that the work is hard but ultimately hugely fulfilling and rewarding. I will look forward to their future success from the backbenches and will always be there to call upon should they ever wish to seek my counsel.

“I realise to some people this may come as a shock but I have always wanted to leave when people were asking “Why are you going?” rather than “Why haven’t you gone!”

I am grateful for and hugely appreciative of the fact that very few people get to serve in a position of Leadership for as long as I have had the honour to do. I have seen leaders of other groups come and go; indeed, I have seen other political parties come and go, all whilst I have remained in situ.

I am truly thankful for that longevity and the support of my colleagues who have supported me for all of this time, and I wish them and Harlow the very best of luck for the future.”

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13 Comments for Conservative leader of Harlow District Council announces resignation:

2021-10-04 08:54:28

Wishing you all the best Andrew! I hope you achieve all your dreams and aspirations. I think you missed the brightest shiniest jewel of all when you mentioned preserving Harlow’s Crown Jewels. Our beautiful river 🌳🍄🦋🐝

Mark Ingall
2021-10-04 15:05:28

Andrew Johnson waited ten years to lead Harlow Council and now, after only four months he resigns? I smell a rat.

John Paul Goddard
2021-10-04 22:17:49

Mark Ingall waited a lifetime to lead Harlow Council and soon as he got the job the public through him out of his seat. Ex-leaders really perhaps should have shown a bit of class, empathy & decency and paid tribute rather than trying to make a conspiracy out of a someone releasing a heartfelt statement!

Conor Ryall
2021-10-04 22:26:01

What a terrible comment from Mark ingall

2021-10-05 05:09:48

Terrible maybe but honest and what we are all thinking.

2021-10-05 06:02:31

Speak for yourself Carole. Others aren’t narrow eyed in their ideas and thinking. All the best Andrew!

Michael Hatton
2021-10-05 07:05:31

Ingall , the man who, solely destroyed the Socialist party in Harlow by being devious and deliberately economising on truth, and always hitting below the belt at every opportunity. The difference between him and A J, one was booted out of Harlow, and the other graciously resigned. Best wishes to AJ on his retirement and I and many like me will hope that ill-health isn't the reason.

Paul Henderson
2021-10-05 09:18:43

Mark Ingall ‘smells a rat’! Well what can one say to the man who oversaw the systematic decline of Harlow under his inept leadership and who presided over his party’s record, devastating defeat in May?His comments are sadly undignified but entirely consistent with his ungracious, mean and resentful nature. Andrew Johnson has chosen to retire; Ingall was unceremoniously booted out by his own residents in Bush Fair ward.

Tony Durcan
2021-10-05 12:12:22

Paul aka Tory spin doctor. Sure we all believe you.The only 2 defenders are the former spin doctor and the current one. We all know the truth and it’s not very nice.

2021-10-05 15:46:19

Yet again Politics rears its ugly head in the local councils! It was just a couopke of weeks ago we as residents were asked! Why is the turnout so lowin local council elections? Well the answer is here Political wrangling and each side claiming a win over the other! and the losers are the residents who all live in the town! Its all a nonsense and thats why its all a waste of time!

Paul Henderson
2021-10-06 10:39:21

Durcan, the truth is that Ingall presided over a defeat without precedent and that he lost his seat. You were lucky that you weren’t up for election in May otherwise you would have likely joined him! That is the truth. Even someone with your capacity to twist words and shamelessly distort the truth cannot be in denial.

2021-10-07 06:38:58

I have lived in Harlow for over fifty years. Over the years it has become run down under, and un recognisable. Looking at so many disgraceful comments written by labour councillors, only confirms my belief that i was justified losing trust in the party as a voter. In the eighties i lived in Mercers , a new build with so many issues. It took a conservative councillor Simon Carter to resolve issues in the end, to which i am still extremly grateful to this day. Ten years ago, i had other issues, and turned to the labour councillor for help? Nothing happened just bullying from the council. Again it was conservative councillors that helped. It was after attending the council meetings in 2013, whilst Harlow council were falsely accusing us of fly tipping amongst other things to bully us, that i had the pleasure as a voter to observe both parties discuss some of the issues at that time. I was impressed with the sensible and constructive proposals put forward by the conservatives. For this reason i am saddened to hear Mr Johnson is leaving and has suffered ill health. But as a voter i would like to thank you for All the time you have given to help the town, and ourselves too.

Andy shannon
2021-10-07 14:45:42

Hi Andrew . Just to say sorry to see this . We have both known you for 25yrs and when there was just ONE.as you . We left Harlow 8 years ago. Over the years you have done a job the best you could do .So we still have Harlow in our hearts .To have known you as a counsellor and friend and you family is a privilege. Hope to see you soon from both of us. andy and ronnie

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