Harlow Labour councillor questions Tories over progress in providing Warm Banks

News / Sun 18th Dec 2022 at 01:20pm

A LEADING Harlow Labour councillor has quizzed the Tory-run council on what progress has been made in providing warm banks for local residents.

Councillor Kay Morrison to Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for
Business and Community Resilience):

At a previous Council meeting we weighed up the need to do more about
providing and facilitating Warm Banks. Since then, temperatures have
plummeted, sometimes to well below zero, forcing all of us to find ways to
keep warm. For people already struggling with everyday bills forcing terrible
choices between heating and eating, it’s a whole lot worse.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, says action is possible so we need
not despair. Acknowledging the ‘real hardship and pain’ experienced now, he
backs the Warm Welcome campaign involving faith groups, charities and
businesses which let people in to keep warm.

Harlow Playhouse, considered as an option and is undoubtedly a wonderful,
versatile building, may not be ideal, as I think you recognise. What progress
has been made in providing Warm Banks for Harlow people to help them in
their hour of need? It’s certainly time for an update.

Reply from Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for Business and
Community Resilience):

Helping to keep people warm this winter is something the council takes
seriously. This authority believes it has a moral obligation to help the hardest
hit by the cost of living.

The adverse weather conditions this week highlight that it was the right
decision by the council to open the Playhouse as a warm space for vulnerable
residents to go. Because of the facilities available at the Playhouse, free hot
drinks can be served and representatives from local support services can be
on hand to provide guidance in a warm and friendly environment.

There is a coordinated approach to manage the impact this winter. Essex
County Council has rightly opened the doors of the town’s library for people to
use as a warm space too. Streets2Homes is continuing to provide similar
support to those in the town who are currently homeless.

The council is working with other public services, community organisations and the voluntary
sector to identify other warm spaces in the town. If these warm spaces meet
the council’s criteria for supporting vulnerable residents, they will be included
on the council’s dedicated webpage for information about such facilities and
be included as part of the ongoing social media campaign. Posters and flyers
are also in production to be distributed. The council plans to provide access to
a suitable room at the Latton Bush Centre as a warm space by next week.
The cold weather protocol, triggered when temperatures are forecast to be
lower than zero degrees for three nights, has already been activated and is in
place for those with no place to stay during freezing winter temperatures. This
means accommodation is offered by the council in collaboration with other
organisations in the town to keep people safe.

As work continues to review the potential for other communal spaces in the
town to be used as warm spaces. The council must assess if they offer the
right facilities, are accessible by public transport or within an acceptable
walking distance for residents to use. The Community Hub run by Rainbow
Services is also providing support and referring cases to specialist agencies
for additional help if required.

The council is keeping its approach to winter challenges under review and will
take steps to adapt, where appropriate, to offer the best possible support to
those struggling this winter that it can.

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2 Comments for Harlow Labour councillor questions Tories over progress in providing Warm Banks:

Colin Thorpe
2022-12-19 08:26:11

It all sounds good but it's focused around the Town Centre how about other areas? It's unlikely that people will catch a bus to the Town Centre to keep warm! Harlow Council needs to look at other options that have been presented to them which support local Communities

Kim Oconnor
2022-12-19 09:43:42

I agree with Colin. If you have to wait in cold to get a bus to town, and come home on bus in dark , in the cold. People won't go. You need places in local area s.

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