Harlow Council set to plough more funding into top priorities

General / Thu 7th Sep 2023 at 10:39am

HARLOW Council is set to direct more funding to deliver its five priorities to fix council housing, restore pride in Harlow, rebuild our town, secure investment into Harlow and improve council services.

The council’s latest financial performance report will be considered tonight (7 September) at Harlow’s Cabinet and shows that the council is operating a strong financial position whilst investing record amounts into the town.

Despite councils up and down the country facing difficult financial challenges due to reducing income and rising costs, the reports shows that spending on the council’s core running costs (General Fund budget) is within budget at the end of the first quarter of the financial year. The council has faced significant rising costs of energy and insurance premiums, as have all households, and also seen a reduction in car park income. Despite this, the council has been able to balance its books for the first quarter of the year. This has been achieved through the creation of some savings which don’t impact on service delivery, carefully management of budgets across the council and better than expected income from the Harvey Centre.

The report also highlights that:

Over £23.5 million will be invested this year into specific capital projects to restore pride in Harlow, rebuild our town and improve council services. This is on top of the council’s core budget (General Fund) which expenditure this year totals £15.1 million for the day-to-day running of council services.
Over £42.8 million will be invested this year into specific capital projects to fix council housing including major upgrades to council flat blocks and council homes. This is on top of the council’s core day-to-day housing budget (Housing Revenue Account) which totals nearly £60 million this year including money to clear the backlog in housing repairs and improve turnaround times of voids and new housing repairs.

The Cabinet are being asked to approve even more investment into key priorities with more funding for projects including replacing broken and worn street name signs, a new sound-system in the Playhouse and upgrades to Harlow’s roundabouts.

Councillor James Leppard, cabinet portfolio holder for finance and governance, said:

“Through watching carefully how we spend every penny of our council taxpayers’ money and taking prudent financial decisions like receiving income from the Harvey Centre and despite rising costs, the council is currently forecast to operate well within budget for 2023 to 2024. Not only are we within budget and improving council services but we are also set to direct even more money to deliver our priorities like fixing council housing, rebuilding our town, and restoring pride in Harlow.

“The council has frozen the Harlow element of council tax this year and is investing record amounts into delivering our priorities all whilst maintaining a strong financial position and operating within budget. We can only do this because of our prudent and efficient management of your council tax.”

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22 Comments for Harlow Council set to plough more funding into top priorities:

J. M. Gamble
2023-09-07 11:00:06

Panic spending before the full council election in May next year.

2023-09-07 11:22:46

Always when elections are coming up. At the all up election next year I suggest we find 30 odd independents with no party affiliation and get rid of these political clowns in all parties they take us for fools

2023-09-07 11:36:32

All that money secured for council homes yet my council home just had a new toilet fitted (does not fit into the waste pipe whatsoever and the cistern has been left a mess) and the contractors got told to do it as cheaply as possible by the council. Other work is due to be started on the bathroom because we pushed back against the council after being told by them we are not entitled to a new bathroom until 2034, that would make my bathroom and it's parts over 80 years old at that point. In the end all we've managed to get from this amazing council is some new tiles and taps and a not properly fitted toilet. Shambles of a council.

2023-09-07 11:46:52

Councillor Leppard while lots of investment is promised the true measure of the self declaration that the incumbent council are "improving council services" will be made when the electorate have their say next year.

2023-09-07 11:51:16

Such great news for us Harlow residents, it feels like progress is being made. It’s always nice to receive positive updates to give us all the much needed hope during these hard times.

gary roberts
2023-09-07 11:54:26

No mention of investment in "left behind neighbourhoods" like Potter Street despite Cllr. Swords telling me plans are being, or have been, drawn up to address my local concerns on the lack of much needed services. Is it more smoke and mirrors from this council? I suspect so! If not, lets see those plans.

2023-09-07 11:56:38

But it's Conservative governments who broke council housing and decimated council service's. How can you mention rebuilding with a straight face after the tory led coalition cancelled labour's 55 billion building schools for the future programme in 2010. Looking forward to seeing tonight's cabinet meeting and your responses to the save harlow hacking group. Should be a classic

2023-09-07 13:50:20

Quick update to my comment about the not properly fitted toilet, we now have a really bad leak from the toilet cistern and it's starting to go through the floor to the hall below. How lovely ay

2023-09-07 16:37:08

Does that mean after waiting 3 yrs for cage to be put round Solar panels I'll finally get it done.

Dan Long
2023-09-07 18:25:44

This Tory administration party of Harlow and the former Labour administration party of Harlow are as bad as eachother. Liars, Liars,Liars.

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-07 19:01:54

Anonymous,, l had same problem with my toilet system, it's never been replaced since this council was built. Council repair man came, tutted and put new ballcock in it, now I have to crank handle 4 times instead of 3...Now even David Carter knows about this, he wrote me a letter, full of dates of when I rung,, but nothing about if system will be replaced.. This council are all about cutting corners,,whilst all the while telling people repair s are being done, that is maybe, but when or if ,,and cutting corners.

2023-09-07 22:19:48

Nothing but lies People in flats are having to pay for their repairs and nothing is coming from the council pockets. This is how they are saving money So they can say we done repairs on the flats for a photo shoot and vote for us I'm not on anyone side but don't take people for fools

2023-09-08 07:04:43

Funny how the council can procure enough money to tidy up the grass verges and road markings’ IN TIME ‘ for the cycle race ! ! !

2023-09-08 11:21:45

21 million pounds being spent to buy a shopping Mall: it's not the business of Councils to speculate. How many new Council houses could have been built for this money and how many repaired, upgraded and refurbished? Looking at the track record of Councils that have spectacularly failed by this misuse of public funds brings into question the whole foundation of the concept that local government should "play the markets". The most recent example is Birmingham now bankrupt because of the financial imprudence of council policy being governed by amateur part time elected lay people Councillors. Unfortunately there's many other district Councils in the same boat. Councils are part funded in part from Council tax but this isn't satisfactory because the most diadvantaged get the least, so central government, guided by an independent body (as with pay deals) should fund so that all areas are levelled up automatically rather than Councils having to compete for relatively small pots of cash.

James Leppard
2023-09-08 13:09:09

The purchase of the Harvey Centre was not a 'speculative' venture. It was an integral part of the Town Centre regeneration programme as is the ground breaking joint venture partnership with Hill Group. One of the reasons the previous Labour administrations failed abysmally to halt the decline of the area and undertake any regeneration, was apart from the fact they were clueless was because: a) the Council very little of the land or buildings, and; b) they failed to implement a comprehensive planning framework. This council administration instituted the Town Centre Masterplan, which severely limits to scope private developments that do not meet the criteria set. Secondly, supported by exstensive grant funding, we have started to acquire strategic sites and have in the space of 2 years become the largest single landowner positioning us to execute the regeneration plan with our partner. The Harvey Centre was painstakingly researched with highly professional advisers and the base case applied was highly conservative. For the record, the financial performance so far has exceeded projections. In the cases you mentioned of other authorities, some had allowed Council officers to borrow funds to acquire all manner of businesses, often outside their districts with no robust governance or scrutiny. Harlow is not in a such a position and nor will it ever be under this administration.

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-09 10:03:21

I have this vision, that we will up with a posh town centre with very little shops, I have a vision that all theses thousands and thousands of houses,, will eventually be bought by council, as there now being bought of landlords, how else are we going to house the mass migration.. But I hope and prey ,not before our own.. It's upsetting to most people of all the destruction that will happen to this town, it will end up unrecognisable, to the point that Frederick Gibberd s plans, is thrown out of the window. Sir Frederick built this town with green spaces in mind.... The destruction that's going to happen to our River stort valley is in abundance, to our boarders, is unacceptable and and unimaginable. Destroying Ecco systems, ripping up the environment in abundance.. why is this government,, theses councils,, that are buying private new builds,and buying back from landlords .. Ask your self, why in gods name don't you just build council houses, why don't you just do the old houses up, instead of ripping them down.... Because they have gained lots more from developers, then doing the right way... By avoiding to buy lands for the future generations.

James Leppard
2023-09-09 16:53:23

Kim O'Connor, I will refrain from commenting on your various visions. Instead, if you want to see how a new town built around the same time as Harlow undertook a truly impressive and successful regeneration, attracting people from nearby towns, go and see Bracknell. As for our own plans, these are available at the 'Discover Harlow' unit in the Harvey Centre. It is an open area where people may ask questions and make comments.

James Leppard
2023-09-09 17:07:47

Kim O'Connor, since 2011the population of Harlow has increased from 81,400 to around 95,300. That is around 17%! The area of our district is unchanged so our already high density has increased further. Ee have so little space for new builds within the district and Council housing can only be built on council owned land. We already have one of the highest percentages of social housing in the country. We are reaching saturation point. This Autumn, this administration is starting the biggest council house building programme in over a decade. However, there is very little land.

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-09 18:20:28

James Leppard, the reasons there s very little lands, is because this government and you councils have sold to the highest bidder over the years.. because greed has come before needs.. 😂 don't make me laugh with the high percentage of social housing. Ask your self why we are reaching saturation point,, your government may be..

2023-09-09 23:36:43

James buying the Harvey Centre has absolutely nothing to do with other sites that the Council needed to control because your not going to redevelop or change it. Experts in retail who owned the Harvey Centre were so confident about it that they couldn't wait to get shot of it; you should question why they were so keen even slashing the price by several millions to speed the process. No high end or popular shops will return and when the footfall associated with pah disappears much of the current customer base will disappear, they'll be more empty units and the centre will rack up a loss on the investment. Meanwhile, what are you doing with the rest? After demolishing The Square you're building an arts centre as part of a hggt pfp publicity stunt when there are several locations in existing buildings that could and were begging to be used and the for the rest building private high rise buildings that'll overload the centre and create a highly windy environment that'll make the location unpleasant to visit. What an Absolute mess you're putting the town in.

David Carter
2023-09-10 08:33:49

Sadly I wrote to Kim O’Connor, without reply The only problem we have had from you is about your toilet system HTS came and fitted a new ball-cock etc Tested it and it was working fine when they left. You seem to want to complain but when challenged You do nothing All hot air and no substance

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-10 09:31:46

David Carter, I only complain, when the job has not been done properly, when you sent the letter, why was it only filled with dates,, and not,,, oh we will send someone to look at it, but a letter of no surnificance that went straight in bin.... now you know my address, may be next letter will be that your sending some one to look at system..... This system was put in at early 60s, replacing ball cock every time I call council... the flush you have to crack 4 times before you it flushes.. And I will remind you not to be so rude to people, it doesn't bow well for you all.. May be Wright again, but say your get some one to look.... we don't make theses things up . David Carter..

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