Harlow Labour leader pours scorn on Tory-run council pledges for 2022
General / Tue 4th Jan 2022 pm31 12:44pm
THE leader of the Harlow Labour group has responded to the promises and pledges made by the Conservative leader of Harlow Council cllr Russell Perrin.
Councillor Chris Vince said: “More questions than answers from Harlow Council leader The Conservative administration are trapped in a quandary of their own making.
“On the one hand they need to make good on an election pledge to cut council tax – albeit a year later than promised – and on the other hand they need to balance the books. They claim not to be making any cuts to discretionary services, (Harlow District Council funds Pets’ Corner, The Playhouse, Parndon Wood Nature Reserve, to name but a few) but even if they only freeze council tax for just a three year period, it will create a black hole of almost £1m in council funding.
Where will the money to cut council tax come from? Is it any wonder that members of my group fear privatisation of services or staffing cuts? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of other options.
Once again, Russell Perrin, the leader of Harlow Council’s Conservative administration’s only answer is to talk about the need to be more commercially savvy. He fails to recognise that Harlow Council already works with other councils in some key areas including in our auditing capacity. If he is suggesting sharing other services such as HR, which he mentions in his interview to YourHarlow, would this mean staffing cuts?
As I have stated previously, the sort of cuts to council tax that the Tories on Harlow District Council can effect will be small, as the council only takes 15% of the overall council tax, with the majority of it going to the Conservative Essex County Council and the Conservative Police Fire and Crime Commissioner.
We can only hope that some of the Conservative Councillors who are also County Councillors will look at similar cuts to the county council element of the council tax bill. Otherwise they could end up looking a little hypocritical. Councillor Perrin once again stated that we cannot always rely on government grant. Why? What does he know that the rest of us don’t? Local government has already faced massive cuts to their finances caused by this Conservative government’s austerity drive.
Are councils like Harlow’s under further threat from Boris Johnson’s government? If that’s the case, then is this really the time to decrease our only guaranteed revenue stream – council tax? When leading the council, The Labour Party only ever raised council tax in line with inflation.
Our increase in council tax was always far outweighed by the increases imposed by the Conservative run County Council and Conservative PFCC – a fact conveniently left out of any of their literature. The Harlow Conservative led Council has no real meat on the bones as to how they are going to make up for this shortfall, and will leave Harlow with an uncertain future.
“But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is another way. Labour will invest in our town, our vital services, and ensure the long term financial security of our town, without the need to mislead people with false promises along the way”.
Keep up the good work Chris. Call them to account each and every time.
Please don't destroy our river stort, with a4 lane monstrosity. Save our stort.
Russell Perrin talks about being "commercially savvy". The dangers of this commercial approach are exposed in a Guardian article from July 2021 regarding Slough Council going bankrupt: "These shortcomings included weak management and oversight of a number of companies partly or wholly owned by the council, exposing it to “significant financial risk”. The council has borrowed £580m since 2016, and the cost of servicing these loans added to the pressures on its budget. An audit revealed in May that the council’s reserves – thought to be £7.5m – were only £500,000 after it emerged they had been drained to correct an accounting error made two years previously that had overestimated the council’s income from a commercial joint-venture, Slough Urban Renewal." Although Slough is a Labour controlled council, the article names other Tory controlled councils in financial difficulties through reliance on commercial activities. Check out the article at: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/02/slough-goes-bankrupt-after-discovery-of-100m-black-hole-in-budget
To sit there and say "we've only increased Council Tax along the lines of inflation" is pathetic. It's still increasing the financial burden on hard working families. What about the business grants you failed to give out. What about the increase in the number of portfolio holders you brought in? Chris you've been in Harlow five minutes to improve your political career and you know very little of the massive wastes of money Harlow Labour has inflected on this town! Under Labour Harlow was the highest shire district council tax in the Country! I remember the Harlow Star headlines of Shambolic and Shambolic 2 after dreadful reviews. As for privatisation, Labour had to privatisatise the waste collection service because the in house one was a shambles. The only party ever to shut the Playhouse was Labour! So next time you sprout such utter drivel check your facts! I think you will find there's a pandemic on, you might have noticed. I think that will need to be put into the financial plans whoever is in charge! As for the £1m shortage - cancel the Market Square retiling! That'll do it!!!