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Local Elections 2024: Labour leader: “In 100 days, you have the opportunity to tell the Conservatives that Harlow deserves better”. 

Elections / Tue 23rd Jan 2024 at 07:55am

THIS will be an incredibly busy political year. Around the world, there will be over 40 national elections.

The General Election in the United Kingfon is expected later this year.

Closer to home, there will be local elections in Harlow on Thursday May 2nd when all 33 seats will be up.

With 100 days to go, the Labour leader, Chris Vince has given us his thoughts.

Cllr Vince said: “In 100 days, you have the opportunity to tell the Conservatives that Harlow deserves better. 

The local elections in May will be using new ward boundaries which means everyone will be able to vote for 3 Labour candidates who will make the difference your local communities need. 

Since 2021, the Conservatives have been in power at all levels of government. It’s the Conservatives at Westminster who have caused the cost-of-living crisis, rising fuel and food costs, it’s the Conservatives at County Council who have overseen the degradation of our roads and it’s the Conservatives in Harlow who are responsible for the reduction in council services due to staffing cuts. 

They have made bold claims about reducing the backlog of council housing repairs, a backlog accumulated during their time in office. They spent nearly £2m of council money using contractors who have not been held to account when their work has been substandard. 

However, the bottom line is that the Conservatives are responsible for over £60m worth of cuts to Harlow Council which the local Conservatives have dealt with by reducing services and raiding reserves. In the first 2 years of their administration, they have overspent by £2.4m. 

Like the country, Harlow desperately needs a change. It needs a party in power who will not have an endless merry-go-round of portfolio holders, a party in power who will bring back stability to council finances and a party in power who will truly put the people of Harlow first. 

Harlow Labour group believe that first and foremost we are elected to represent our residents, our communities and our local businesses.  We will hold developers to account to ensure residents get what they are promised, invest in our local services and spend your money wisely. 

“Ultimately, we are a group who will get the basics right, because that’s the very least the people of our town deserve”. 

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28 Comments for Local Elections 2024: Labour leader: “In 100 days, you have the opportunity to tell the Conservatives that Harlow deserves better”. :

Dan Swords
2024-01-23 08:18:07

The day Harlow Labour left office there were 4,800 outstanding housing repairs, the average wait time for a repair was over 300 days and the town was broken. Paddling pools opened late every year. Council Tax went up every year. The carried out no regeneration in the town centre. They wasted £1.13M on housebuilding projects that never even happened. Their record was disastrous which is why they have put forward absolutely no plan of how they would run Harlow Council.

Alex
2024-01-23 09:05:54

Chris Vince and Harlow Labour couldn't run a bath let alone the Council. Let's forget why we kicked them out in 2021. They were useless and clueless and still are. No council house building, HTS running like a busman's holiday, town centre completely run down and no plans, tax increases, etc. Since when is Chris Vince good enough to be a Parliamentary candidate for Harlow when he has been rejected by Colchester and several other places? Harlow was clearly his last choice!

gary roberts
2024-01-23 09:07:51

Cllr.Vince, you should make this statement a month before the local elections when you have to attach policy. Until then let the Conservatives continue to destroy their credibility. I think the electorate want fundamental change with councillors who actually care for their community and the people in it. I mean how many residents in Potter Street want a large car park between and next to four housing communities described by Cllrs. Leppard, Seales and Swords as a regeneration project? How many that live in the area were consulted on this project? Was this an example of Cllr. Leppard stating that I would be eating my words before releasing details of this plan? I suspect so. You couldn't make it up, so I haven't!

Marcela
2024-01-23 09:35:52

I am not too happy with the national government, but locally, Harlow Conservative administration has been delivering and the changes and improvements are noticeable. We have to be clear and not mix up national, county and district. I would not bringing Labour back to run the council. They just focus on national and international issues which have bearing on running the town and over which they have no influence. This administration seems to know their priorities and how to manage.

Adam
2024-01-23 09:39:40

While I am no fan of the conservatives, under labour the town was much worse. The best thing that can happen at the all up election is ever one of the current councillors and parties gets kicked out by independents

Peter Henegan
2024-01-23 09:48:15

I suspect that this type of to and fro has been going on for years with barely a change to the rhetoric. I recently wrote about the amount of cash being held by Harlow Sports Trust. Neither Dan nor Chris chose to comment. I think they only comment when it suits them. Fortunately we have the Harlow Alliance Party able to provide a local perspective

Molly Buckle
2024-01-23 09:54:42

Kim O'Connor, one of the main reasons why I voted for the Conservative council in 2021 was their promise to undertake regeneration of the Town Centre which had become like a waste land under Labour: dangerous, ugly, dirty and with no serious shopping options. This administration is doing what it said in this regard. I barely never go near the place. We shop at Queensgate, Bishop's Stortford, Hertford and even St Albans where there are many good options for lunch, which Harlow lacks. Even other New Towns like nearby Welwyn Garden City is so much nicer than Harlow. I think you are wrong. If we want people to spend money here, Town Centre regeneration for shopping and leisure is fundamental.

Nostradamus
2024-01-23 10:23:54

First thing Tory Council did was close the neighbourhood offices and their ears to the residents. It's been downhill ever since. Labour opened the door to hggt pfp and the tories welcomed them in with gusto whilst shedding crocodile tears over Epping Council building at NE Harlow and Latton, at the same time promising to build a new Harlow hospital out of Harlow into Epping district whilst approving a transport package that will trash the River Stort Valley green environment and with j7a create pollution and traffic gridlock. Not to forget building hi rise flats to house people dumped by the London Borough's: (eg Newham) Great: not. Why did they do this? Entirely concidental? There's at least one Councillor very closely involved with a property development company and the Conservative Party is very generously supported by donations from property developers. Molly the Market Square is still rubbish and the cluster of 16 story hi rise blocks will themselves create an unpleasant windy environment, will create overcrowding and get bought up by London and other Borough's to dump people here far from their relatives and home environments. Moving the hospital will massively decrease footfall in what shops remain and speed the serious deterioration of the town centre, into which the council has just £21million on the shopping centre. They got it at a discount but obviously didn't appreciate or question why the experts who owned it were so anxious to get shot of it.

Molly Buckle
2024-01-23 10:32:57

Nostradamus, I understood that the council took professional advice on acquiring the Harvey Centre and that it is making higher profits than forecast. Is this not the case? Also was it not the Labour council that allowed Terminus house to be bought up to house people from London with all the adverse consequences to our town?

John
2024-01-23 10:42:11

Molly, you say under Labour the town dangerous, ugly, dirty and with no serious shopping etc and that this administration is doing what it said… but then go on to say you barely go near the place, that you shop at Queensgate, Bishop's Stortford, Hertford etc. where there are many good options for lunch, which Harlow lacks…. So which is it, Is the administration lacking or doing what it said or not? I’m confused

Molly Buckle
2024-01-23 11:07:28

John, let me be clear. The administration pledged to regenerate the town centre. It takes time. They are starting. However, other than by the Water Gardens, it is a wasteland. It will be developed for sure, but until then I and many friends I know will use the other places mentioned. Harlow used to be a wonderful shopping area. The world has changed, but places like Stortford and St Albans have far better leisure /restaurants offerings, which people now want. They also have more smaller independent shops. This has to do with unit sizes and rents. In Harlow we just seem to have nail bars, junk food and phone shops. It is a dump. However, I think it will improve.

Exasperated
2024-01-23 11:40:42

The average wait time now it's over 500 days...

John
2024-01-23 11:44:54

Thank you for the clarification Molly, but they have had since 2021, how long will it take… while people desert the town in their hordes, resulting in a loss of money so needed for the “regeneration” they need to pick up the pace. You mention other than the Water Gardens, it is a wasteland… let’s remember the water gardens were “regenerated” and rebuild in the 2000s under a Labour administration… what have the current administration done for the town centre in comparison? Nothing.

Molly Buckle
2024-01-23 12:07:31

Not true, John. They key was to establish a planning regime for the designated town centre area. Labour never did this and therefore had no effective control. Secondly, Labour owned very little of the Town centre. The Harvey Centre acquisition was a major game changer. They are now buying other areas and work is starting on the new cultural quarter near the Playhouse and former Occasio House site. Also the new bus terminal is about to commence. Most significant, this Council has set up a professional 50/50 partnership with Hill, an experienced developer for regeneration projectsLabour never did anything like that. Not bad in about 2.5 years compared with Labour's decade of mostly inactivity. Give them a bit more time and the changes will be made. We cannot afford the risk of a local Labour administration. It would be a disaster.

John
2024-01-23 12:48:22

Molly, we are not talking about ownership, regardless it was still while we had a Labour Council. And as per the Water Gardens developer's website, "Designed by Benoy Architects, the development was completed in partnership with Harlow Council and English Partnerships." So it was a partnership with Harlow Council while it was Labour... and to be fair, the acquisition of the Harvey Centre wasn't a major game changer, it was a massive waste of money... they should've and could've brought the newly built Burnt Mill flats but rather let Newham Council, for their homeless... where are the homes for our residents and homeless, or do we need to give them a bit more time for that too, while the town and country fall apart. We can no longer cope with the local, county or national current administration, enough is enough.

Pedro
2024-01-23 12:52:42

Labour both nationally and locally are without clear direction, they have no plan to deal with any of the major issues that voters are concerned about, the only thing they keep repeating is taking money from the Non Dom status people, not sure what the plan is when they all move and take their taxes and investment with them, I guess it will be hard working taxpayers who will suffer yet again, Whilst the Tories under Sunak have morphed into a kind of socialist party and are leaking voters to Reform, Change is certainly needed and all sides need to remember "Elected by the People, To Serve the People"

Waiting
2024-01-23 12:58:07

Cllr S, I'm not sure that is true. We have been waiting since July 2022 for a repair to be carried out. Which is 554 days, almost double the 300 days you quote! Harlow is in no better state since you took office, it is worse.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-23 13:59:12

No-doubt the ding dong between the two major Parties will get louder as we near the local and national elections. The article by Cllrs Vince and Swords are mostly factual about each other but neither will never acknowledge in any sense the good work that has been done by the other Party. The fact is, in many ways both Parties are the same, vague policies with little substance and in Harlow's case they share a similar vision for the town. Both Parties fail to carry out any meaningful consultation with residents, they ignore public opinion, both support the building of thousands of homes on the Green Belt around Harlow and both share a vision for the town centre which involves a number of huge tower blocks and a reliance of new cafes and bars. The new bus terminus is a waste of £8+miilion as is the £20+million being spent on the so called Cultural Square, neither will improve the lot of many of us already living in the town. Unless people vote for change then change will never happen, Harlow will become even more crowded, more polluted, more pot holed and one where there is little hope for our younger generation. Nicholas Taylor, Leader of Harlow Alliance.

Nostradamus
2024-01-23 14:14:03

If Molly visits the town centre she might have a clue: compare to how the town centre was when we had a market, major retail outlets like M&S, The Coop, Littlewoods, Woolworths, we had The Square there's nowt left worth visiting: the Harvey Centre may or may not be doing better than expected compared to when, after COVID or recent years? It's still nowhere in the league the town centre once was. When PAH moves then many of the staff who live very near the current site will move. All of those thousands who visit the hospital for whatever reason and at the same time shop will go. This when like yourself all those that move to Gilston or any of those who move to the East Herts and Epping housing estates being built up to our borders won't be seen dead in downtown Harlow. The hggt pfp Neighbourhood plan characterized Harlow as urban and Ms Polaine Hggt herself said to Harlow Civic Society that her vision was that Gilston residents would be driving (through Harlow) to get to the tube (Epping several miles away). Has no one in the council noticed that shopper prefer to shop in the shops that are on the perimeter of the town eg along Edinburgh Way and online. Town Centres and High Streets that are places where traffic converges and there's high level of congestion have been virtually dead for years.

Pete Williamson
2024-01-23 14:23:08

What the political parties are missing is that Harlow has a very high density of population. I am surprised that even the Greens don't get this and keep going on about a housing waiting list and building thousands of council homes. Our population is approaching 100,000! The town was never meant for so many people. The infrastructure for health, education, roads, etc is collapsing. We have to stop building. There is no space or land. We cannot have more people and houses. It doesn't matter whether they are council or private, we have no land or space. We cannot cope. We need to stop people coming here and start encouraging others to move away so we have a manageable population. If we don't have houses, then go elsewhere. Too many people are ruining our town and our country!

Paul Richards
2024-01-23 14:55:13

Pedro is spot on. If you read Chris Vince's comments they are just empty statements, generalisations and waffle. There is nothing concrete or specific. They have alternative plans. A Labour council would be a terrible backward step.

James Leppard
2024-01-23 17:59:07

Gary Roberts, I notice as is you habit, you appear to suffering from yet another bout of amnesia. All references to you 'eating your words' were made in the context of your scepticism regarding the future of Osler House (left empty since 2018 when Labour were in administration). I informed you in November that at Council all would be revealed (which it was and published in YH) that the charity MIND would be acquiring the premises that would again serve the Potter Street community. You seem to be under the impression that Harlow Common councillors have treated the Potter St half the ward with some indifference. Allow me to enlighten you. The entire issue of Osler House has been a constant source of discussion with the Harlow Common Residents Association. We have worked closely with the Association and residents regarding the NISA store. All parties affected by the planned housing developments at the Neighbourhood office and Pytt Field have been contacted. We have made improvement with new benches at Larkswood (neglected for a decade). New posts were installed at the entrance to Chapel Fields garages for safety reasons, at the request of residents. We have secured allotments for the new community hub initiative and had clearing works undertaken by HTS. We have repeatedly pushed County Councillors to obtain extension of the 20 mph speed limit on Potter Street to the southern boundary. Please give specific examples of alleged neglect.

Eddie
2024-01-23 20:31:10

Pete Williamson . I totally agree with you. But on the flip side , no one can tell me if homes are not built , where are our sons and daughters going to live ?

Michael Hardware
2024-01-23 21:52:55

Peter Henegan, be assured that you are not the only one concerned about the Harlow Sports Trust, I have been for some time and steps are afoot to look at what they are doing.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-23 22:26:03

Well James if the many people we spoke to whilst out canvassing at Prentice Place and the Stow in the last couple of weeks are anything to go by your Party is in for a hammering come May. We noticed the very poor state of the shrub beds at Prentice Place and indeed the same goes for those at Bush Fair. It seems clear that whilst one off improvements are made, there is no continual long term follow up to keep areas in good order. This does not bode well for the so called regeneration of parts of the Town Centre, just take a look at the beds planted out in Market Square and the flower boxes in front of the Playhouse.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-23 22:39:29

Well Michael, just how long have you been concerned and more to the point what have you done? What steps are afoot? As a member of Leisurezone and leader of HAP I have been approached by a number of users in recent weeks who have been complaining to staff about a number of issues for many months. This culminated in the letter sent to YH. It is interesting to note that no response from the trust has been forthcoming.

gary roberts
2024-01-24 06:41:11

Oh dear Cllr. Leppard. If using the Harlow Common Residents' Association as your only defence then nonsense becomes BS. Remember I started that group, chaired it, invited guests, and produced the minutes so please do me a favour and now tell me how many Harlow Common residents attend those meetings today? As for Osler House: how much is the council willing to sell it for? I have asked many times but without success. Therefore your statement, "I informed you in November that at Council all would be revealed (which it was and published in YH)" is wrong, isn't it? The professional evaluation of Osler House today in its current derelict state is £236,000 then add the council's summary of the renovation costs of £500,000 and you get £736,000. Is MIND so stupid as to pay that? I suspect not. If all you can mention is a seat here or post there then that is not regeneration is it? It barely registers on the residents radar because that is what you should be doing. Finally, Harlow Common had two cllrs in the cabinet and all we get is a big car park that isn't wanted. You call that regeneration. I call it an insult to integrity.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-24 08:47:52

I should of course have said that to date a response from the the trust has not been published.

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