Letter to Editor: The state of notice boards in Harlow
Your Say / Wed 11th May 2022 am31 09:42am
JUST like Peter Scally I have become very frustrated with the response I have received from a Council but in this case it is Harlow Council. I was given the name of a Council officer by Contact Harlow as the person who is responsible for managing Harlow Council’s notice boards which are situated in shopping Hatches and other locations around the town. These provide an ideal opportunity for the Council to engage with residents who do not have access to or use social media as part of its Community engagement strategy.
It is a sorry state of affairs that these boards are not being kept in good order, indeed from the information inside of them it is clear that they have in at least some cases not been used for some years. The one at Pollard Hatch has been damaged for about three years and the one at Bush Fair has a Labour Party leaflet in it referring to Cllr Ingall. The Notice of Election at Katherines Hatch has had to be stuck on the doors of the building presumably because no-one has been able to gain access to the board just a few feet away.
I sent an email to the Council officer on 15 March asking if they were the correct person to whom a request should be addressed to place a notice in one of the Notice Boards. Two days later I received a reply from the officer asking me what I would like to advertise so they could look into it and ascertain if there are any community benefits. I replied the same day to say that I was thinking about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch and I wondered if the board at Pollard Hatch could be used to advertise this and asked the officer if they had the keys for this board.
On 30th March 2022 I sent an email asking if my request had been considered as to date I had not received a reply to my earlier email. The following day I received an apology and was advised that checks had been made and they were still trying to ascertain the department that is responsible for the notice boards. Two days later I received another email which said that enquiries had been made throughout the Council and it ‘seems’ that the notice boards are operated by residents and local community group members. The officer had asked for the contact details of the resident in charge of the notice board at Pollard Hatch and if the resident agreed to allow Harlow Council to share their contact details, I would be updated accordingly.
On 25th April 2022 I received an email apologising for the late response and saying ‘In case I haven’t updated you, the keys were given to a member of the local community, and we have been trying to get a hold of the albeit (sic) to no avail. We have tried all the contact information that we have and have had no luck. Apologies for not being able to be of assistance this time.’
This response appeared to be a final message to say that nothing more will be done. I find this an unacceptable response to a reasonable request.
I'm glad (though sad) I'm not alone in struggling with this kind of thing. It took 3 months of going back and forth with Harlow Council to find out who has access to the information display boards at Harlow Town train station. I ended up being questioned by other organisations as to whether what I wanted to display was worthy. I gave up in the end.
I'm surprised they didn't point out your right to make a complaint if your unhappy with the service. Ever time I've asked a question they're quicker at explaining how to complain than they are about resolving the actual issue, which never really happens anyway. It's a shame also that consideration for the benefit to the community was identified first rather than helping answer your initial question. The problem with council's is they become too big and form their own gravity of internal politics they loose sight of their purpose to the local community.
Do you think it's because so much is put out on social media the notice boards don't have as much attention to them now?...there used to be at least one notice board at most shopping hatches but some have gone due to vandalism or removed because they were damaged..I've seen some relevant notices at the elderly care homes as not all elderly are on social media but I agree there are definitely less boards around nowadays.
If Harlow Council gets its skates on they will be in time to replace the Harlow 70th anniversary notice with the imminent Harlow 75 notice. A five year cycle is not bad for Harlow Council. Please check the picture in this article.