Labour leader slams Tory-run Harlow Council budget

News / Fri 24th Feb 2023 at 11:23am

THE LEADER of Harlow Labour has slammed the budget decisions made by the Conservative-run Harlow Council.

Councillor Chris Vince said: “Let’s be clear. 

This is not a budget for growth it is a budget for survival 

£62.3m cut from this council finances by a Conservative government that just doesn’t care 

£1.5m of inflationary pressures caused by this hopeless Conservative government limping on despite everyone having had enough of them 

They say their reserves are healthy yet the unallocated reserves have fallen again, less than 10% now above the recommended minimum 

When don’t you call an overspend an overspend, when the Conservatives have a projected ‘budget deficit’ of six hundred and sixty six thousand pounds.   

They say that all the job cuts are roles which haven’t been filled for years yet I have a piece of paper showing three of the roles they’re cutting are currently filled and others which have only been made vacant in the last 6 months, it also shows we are also losing 4 apprentice positions.  We know that more staff in this council means a lesser service for the people of our town, I presume no one was brave enough to tell your local government minister about those apprenticeship cuts.

They tell us that cutting £120 000 won’t affect the current service for homeless provision in our town, although they can’t predict what the future looks like, with potentially more people becoming homeless as mortgages sore and private rents go through the roof.  Imagine how much more could be done with that money.

They tell us, and this is the worse bit, that they’re keeping rents below inflation.  They’re only doing that because inflation is at 10%!  That’s like scoring a goal and celebrating when you’ve already scored two own goals. 

This whole budget is an own goal.   

Honestly we can’t seriously sit here and celebrate this budget

It’s this council narrowly avoiding relegation on the last day of the season only to get relegated the next. 

“Something’s got to change”. 

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11 Comments for Labour leader slams Tory-run Harlow Council budget:

2023-02-24 15:38:02

Chris, i read your comments as implying that labour have had us paying higher than necessary council tax to maintain higher than necessary reserves. Am i right?

Michael Hardware
2023-02-24 15:41:31

At the end of the day, the budget is balanced and there is no increase in the Harlow Council element of council tax. That is good news for residents as we are not adding to the current cost of living issues. I am sure it will be welcomed by residents. It also does not come with any cuts to key services, but with added investment in a number of areas. It is a great budget in difficult times and the council finance team should be commended for their efforts.

Tony Durcan
2023-02-24 17:18:47

Agree with Michael that we should recognise the hard work that council staff made to enable this budget to be balanced. Let’s not sugar coat this. Due to massive and savage cuts by the Tory government this is a survival budget and not a growth budget. We’re relying on grants and funding of projects but the actual council budget is about survival nothing more

David Forman
2023-02-24 19:24:49

So what Labour's Tony Durcan is saying is that Harlow Conservatives have done their best in the circumstances. As a budget it is as good as it gets. I have my own criticisms, but they are not deal breakers. Let's wait to see if the national economy turns the corner and inflation drops. Maybe Harlow Council will survive: certainly the statutory 151 Officer thinks so and it's his opinion that counts.

2023-02-24 21:53:42

Mike but you are with your Essex CC hat on how about slashing taxes or at the very least delivering on things like safe roads which do not look they have been shelled by the Russians. Taxes are to high, the public sector is to large an interferes in to many aspects of life and business

2023-02-25 13:53:07

Can Councillor Vice please explain what he means by this sentence, as reported above? "We know that more staff in this council means a lesser service for the people of our town". Is he implying that residents will get better service by cutting the number of staff employed by the council, because that is what is implied and is surely what any council or business hopes to achieve. More staff means less service, less staff means more service. Better outcomes for lower cost, bring it on

2023-02-26 07:27:30

Mr Vince. Why are you trying to put people out of a job. Less staff means more service!!. Check out the NHS

Nicholas Taylor
2023-02-26 10:16:09

Lessons need to be learnt from Labour controlled Croydon and Conservative controlled Thurrock which have both gone broke due to reckless spending and poor management control. It is concerning to note that reserves are very low, but as other commentators have said this is a survival budget. Less staff clearly means a poorer service, add hoc vacancies cannot dictate where services will be cut, the Council will have to fill vacancies where essential services are being provided and ensure they are good at some things rather than being poor at everything.

David Forman
2023-02-26 14:53:46

The Freudian slip sentence written by Mr Vince and highlighted by AEW1952 & TURKEY demonstrates that Mr Vince wrote his letter in under 3 minutes. Please forgive him as he normally allows a maximum of 5 minutes.

Chris Vince
2023-02-27 11:34:00

Thanks for correcting gents, should say lesser staff means a lesser service, fortunately I got it right on the night :-)

Mark Gough
2023-02-27 23:49:40

And you're a teacher aren't you Chris? Grin!

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