Labour leader looks to future of Harlow (and warns Tories over future of HTS)
News / Mon 1st Aug 2022 am31 09:11am
AFTER the leader of Harlow Council delivered his annual speech, it was the turn of the leader of the opposition.
Film and transcript of Labour councillor Chris Vince’s speech is below.
Cllr Vince said: ” I am delighted to be here again and it is a real honour to be a leader of the Labour group on Harlow district council.
Saying that I’d still rather be a back bencher in administration than the leader of the opposition.
Actually the biggest honour is to represent your community, so I welcome all the new councillors, of all political colours, that this is the most important role a councillor can undertake and its one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I’ve been in politics a long time and I know that the reality is whatever theatrics are put on display in this chamber what really matters is what we do in our community, with our community and for our community.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the out going chief Executive Brian Keane for everything he has done for our town. Whether in administration or opposition I have always found Mr Keane’s door open.
When I see the theatrics in this chamber, the banging on the tables, the shouting, I am reminded of when I see Sunday league football players rolling around on the ground because that’s what they’ve seen in the premier league
In reality when you talk to residents, which I do regularly, these are the things they hate the most about politics and politicians
When we as an opposition do raise issues and concerns we do it because these are the concerns of our residents and of our community.
We as local councillors, all of us, care a great deal about the communities we represent, our communities.
We also want to talk about our vision for our town.
And one that has a clear focus on green solutions
Yes we want regeneration, welcome the £20.3m investment secured by the last Labour administration,
Yes we want our town maintained and profits from the work HTS do going back into our town rather than the pockets of private shareholders, and to members of the administration who like us recognise the importance of HTS in its current form I urge you to join us in fighting for it’s future.
HTS doesn’t just cut grass, it serves our community, employs many members of our community and is part of our community.
We also want a town where the welfare of our residents is a priority through the good times and the bad, and let’s be honest recent times have been as bad as they come.
However, we can’t use the pandemic as an excuse forever.
We must ensure that we get back to where we want to be, supporting all our residents, no matter their gender, religion, sexuality of ethnicity.
But we must particularly ensure we support those who don’t usually have a voice, our minority groups, those with disabilities, those who need us the most.
We as the opposition speak with the voice of our residents.
Yes when we see clear misleading statements from the party opposite, like their deputy leader standing in front of some council houses which started to be built in March 2021 before the Conservative’s came to power, we will call it out.
We won’t let the administration re-write history and by the way May wasn’t this fantastic Conservative victory as their group leader tells us.
It was in fact a 2-2 draw with an extra time winner for Labour!
Why extra time, sadly the party opposite have some work to do with their vetting process, or at least they have some membership recruitment to do, so that you can’t just turn up to a couple of party meetings and find yourself a candidate without anyone apparently actually finding out your views, which on the part of your former Cllr for Bush Fair were both vile and abhorrent and not a reflection of Bush Fair, of our town or this chamber.
I welcome Cllr Kay Morrison to this chamber and thank her for her question. Cllr Frances Mason did a great deal of work on the subject of equality, diversity and inclusion and I would be devastated if this work was in vain because minority groups within Bush Fair have been let down by their former elected member.
However, I want to end on a positive note
Despite what you read in the comments section of YH I am a very positive person.
I live in the best town in the country; I have a lovely and more importantly very tolerant wife and the most handsome dog you’ve ever seen
I’m also the leader of an incredibly talented group of councillors who are already ‘getting on with the job’ (to coin a phrase first used by Cllr Sword’s political hero) of representing their residents and representing our town
Be it Cllr James Griggs getting the doors of Sydenham house GP surgery open, Cllr Kay Morrison campaigning on the frankly bizarre proposed locations of 5G masts, Cllr Tony Edwards who will keep fighting for the residents of Harlow to see improvement in our roads and junctions, Cllrs Dunne and Shears already out listening to their residents to Cllr Jean Clark, the mother of the chamber, who continues to champion the need to tackle climate change.
Whatever your political colours I urge you to remember that when all the theatre in here is over, the most important things we do as Cllrs is represent our communities, to represent our neighbours. And when we do that’s when Neighbours become good friends.
Thanks Cllr Chris Vince for reminding the current administration that honesty, integrity and transparency are the bedrock of good local governance. Yes local communities do matter and when local politicians ( either for local Council or Essex County Council ) ask for our vote residents need to see a response to local concerns not ignoring or dismissing - as in the case of potholes or dangerous junctions . There may well be plans for the Town Centre ( how many years if ever will that take to come to fruition) but what about the more mundane issue for example, of more bins to help deal with the overwhelming litter problem - raised over a year ago. HTS do an amazing job for our town Really hope this will be properly acknowledged .
What evidence does Cllr Vince have to raise concerns over the future of HTS continuing as a Local Authority Trading Company? Does he really think it is going to be privatised? Unlike Labour's disastrous latter years, the Tories have put in place a proper business plan, invested in new equipment and given young people a start through the Kick Start scheme. HTS are recruiting and you can see their job adverts at Fish4Jobs. Perhaps Cllr Vince would like to give a fuller explanation!