Harlow Conservative and Labour clash as budget is voted through

General / Fri 23rd Feb 2024 at 08:20am

THE BUDGET for Harlow Council was set last night. The Conservatives voted for it.. Labour did not.

We will let both sides have their point of view.

Here is the Conservative take on Thursday night’s events.


“Extraordinary scenes” took place at the Harlow Full Council meeting yesterday. The annual meeting is designated to the council setting its annual budget and council tax level for the forthcoming year. 

It is normal for the administration (Harlow Conservatives) to propose their budget and plans for the forthcoming year and for the opposition (Harlow Labour) to propose an alternative budget and plans for the year ahead. Councillors then debate and vote on both proposals in order to set a budget and council tax for the year ahead – which is a legal requirement. 

The Harlow Conservatives proposed a budget which would freeze Harlow Council Tax and invest hundreds of millions into Harlow. However, the Harlow Labour opposition did not present an alternative budget. The logical conclusion would be that they would therefore support the Conservatives’ proposed budget since one must be set by law and no alternative or amendments were put forward. 

However, in “extraordinary scenes” the Harlow Labour group voted against the Harlow Conservatives budget, but also voted for no alternative budget. If they had won the vote, the council would not be able to set a legal budget and councillors were advised, the council would face being taken over by the Government for not being able to comply with the legal requirement to set a budget. 

When asked what the Labour Group would do should they win the council in May with regard to the budget, the Leader of Harlow Labour said they would “have a meeting” and propose an “emergency budget” which in itself is not legally possible. 

This is something which has never been seen in Harlow before.

Commenting on the council meeting, the Leader of the Harlow Conservatives and Council, Cllr Dan Swords said: “This is a worrying day for Harlow. Last night, Harlow Labour proposed no budget and voted against the only budget available. That means they voted against freezing council tax, investing £120 million into transforming council housing, £37 million into building new council housing, indeed against the council delivering any services at all including bin collections, street cleaning and everything in between. 

“This is not something I have ever heard of in local government since if Harlow Labour had won the vote, the council would be in an unlawful position and would not be able to provide any services. 

“It is one thing to disagree with the proposals we are putting forward such as freezing council tax, but to provide no alternative and instead vote for an unlawful position shows that the Harlow Labour group are not fit to run Harlow Council.

“Any fair minded resident can see that they cannot even comply with the most basic legal requirements and the risk that brings of them running the council is unthinkable. Putting all politics aside, I would ask every resident to consider just how frightening it is for Harlow Labour to run Harlow Council.”

The Harlow Conservatives budget was voted through by the Conservatives councillors meaning Harlow Council Tax will be frozen for the third year in a row and significant investments will be made into the town.


We have invited Labour to give their side of the story.

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27 Comments for Harlow Conservative and Labour clash as budget is voted through:

2024-02-23 08:47:57

Wait are Labour not led by Chris Vince the prospective and presumably presumptive MP going forward and he does not have a plan for even the town. Seems like it is week for Labour showing locally and nationally they are unfit for office

Dan Long
2024-02-23 09:01:57

I don't Trust,either Labour or Tories when it comes to handling Harlows finances and how the council tax of Harlow is spent. When Labour was in as the administration party of Harlow and had more county councillors representing Harlow than the Tories up until 2017,this town was always messy, rubbish everywhere, edges over growing and a big rate of anti social behaviour and ever since 2017, this is when the Tories won the county council elections and have had the only county councillors representing Harlow and have been the administration party of Harlow since 2021.The roads,cycling tracks and footpaths are still in a terrible condition and this is despite this Tory Government pleading to invest billions of pounds to repair the uk highways.just like 2017 when Robert Halfon announced that £25.000000 had been investing to repair potholes in Harlow. Nothing come of it.when comes to housing here in Harlow, none of these parties are putting the Harlow residents first.so none of them are going to be getting my vote in May. How can anyone trust any of these two untrustworthy,despicable parties. Both these parties are trying to do the same thing and that is to pull the wool over the eyes of us Harlow residents. None of them are here for the sake or well being of the number one priority of Harlow and that is the people of Harlow.

2024-02-23 09:07:03

Typical of local and national Labour, always ready to criticise but with no alternative costed plans.

2024-02-23 09:22:25

Chris Vince, Tony Edwards, Alderman Durcan and Kay Morrison and others are a complete bunch of misfits, totally incapable of running a bath let alone a town like Harlow. Like their leader Starmer, no plans no ideas. Useless.

anyone but the Tories
2024-02-23 10:12:58

After 13 nightmare years of the Tories, the country would vote anyone in but them. The Tories only have themselves to blame after their shocking tenure. They would lose the next election against a wet fish let alone the Labour Party.

2024-02-23 12:21:52

anyone but the Tories - You seem to have missed the 10 years labour ran Harlow and the absolute mess they made of it, they wasted milions of money on reports into things that never happened while the town center collapsed.

Still anyone but the Tories
2024-02-23 12:28:31

My point is that local councils up and down the country would rather anyone else than the Tories after 13 years in charge nationally, with a plan or none... that's still better than what the Tories offer. And after 3 years of them locally that's enough, better off with no plan than their plan!! Or even a man dressed up as a bin, at this rate we would be better off with the Monster Raving Loony Party than the Tories. And they did this to themselves supporting the Tories is an untenable position after the last 13 years of chaos.

anyone but the Tories
2024-02-23 12:37:40

Adam, and what have the Tories done for the collapsing town center? Ah nice new massive plant pots, and let West Gate sit in ruins and rot, all sorted... At least in those 10 years the water gardens were built, which is now the only okay part of the town center... The Tories have done nothing for this town except add to its shame...

2024-02-23 12:42:45

Anyone bit the Tories - you means the water gardens which were completed in 2004. Do not get me wrong I think we need a much smaller government, less regulation, much lower taxes, and much fewer state employees all politicans and state employees are the problem

anyone but the Tories
2024-02-23 13:01:33

Anything but Harlow Labour, I am not saying it should be Labour, I'm just saying it should be anyone but the Tories, they have done themselves in, and would lose the election against a wet fish. Adam, yes completed in 2004, but when did the building work start and what party commissioned it? You might not like it or them, but they have done more for the town than the Tories ever did, they are too busy worrying about their rich toff mates than the working class of Harlow. It is a crying shame a working class town like Harlow were duped into voting Tory. Never again.

2024-02-23 13:44:58

All of the above - seem to be missing the point...as with the debacle in the House of Commons, sadly but similarly, politics before people by the local Labour party too! Of course, a trip down memory lane to May 2010, reminds you of Labour's note 'there's no money left!' when voted out...

anyone but the Tories
2024-02-23 14:33:36

Val, let's not get started on the gentrification of Harlow, where are the homes for 2nd and 3rd generations of Harlow's first families? Nowhere, they are all being pushed out of the area. Shameful. TJP, I wonder what the Tories' note will be this year? "There's no money, or country left now!" maybe something along them lines as they have done no better than Labour did, some would argue worse. Both "New Labour" and the Tories have crimes against the country to pay for, it is just the Tories' turn to pay now.

2024-02-23 15:48:02

Tories will invest hundreds of millions in harlow? Could start by buying the housing back by the train station and use it for local people I don't believe a single thing this government or council say. They're busy doing superficial 'improvements' on the run up to the election but nothing significant is being done to reverse the overall disrepair and neglect throughout the town Having said that, I haven't seen any convincing plans from any other party so I always feel like I'm in a political wasteland with no one worth voting for who will actually do anything worthwhile and genuinely care about anything other than bickering and one man up ship

2024-02-23 16:22:02

We have to pay more in tax if we want our country to be a place we are proud to live in.

2024-02-23 17:28:40

This seems to be an astonishing situation. YH, time perhaps for you to call a public meeting and ask all sides to present their case and be open to questions

James Leppard
2024-02-23 19:21:34

Voteforme, I think that is a splendid idea. After all, we hold public hustings at General Elections. It is highly transparent and publicly engaging. However, I think it unlikely that Harlow Labour will agree to submit themselves to the inevitable public humiliation and embarrassment that we have become accustomed to see in Cabinet and Full Council, exposing the fact that they have no coherent plans or policies. I do genuinely believe that even they are not that dumb. Who knows? I be could be mistaken.

2024-02-23 19:31:00

Mr Vince. You don't know what your doing , having no alternative budget is unbelievable , and not knowing the legal requirement to have one, you are an amateur. You should stand down now ,

2024-02-23 19:52:35

@steve we already pay the highest lax level since the war, it is not we need to pay more it is the state is wasteful and bloated. We need to fire 80% of the public sector and get back to a productive economy

2024-02-23 19:54:18

@steve we already pay the highest lax level since the war, it is not we need to pay more it is the state is wasteful and bloated. We need to fire 80% of the public sector and get back to a productive economy. @anyone but tories - working class town this is not the 70's look how well that worked out as the unions destroyed industry.

2024-02-24 00:10:02

Labour led by Chris Vince have once again shown how incapable they are of running a bath yet alone a council, never forget this current bunch of labour councillors were largely responsible for forcing out several well respected and long standing Labour Councillors and also wanted to elect Corbyn as PM.

2024-02-24 12:15:03

@pedro they are momentum lunatics

2024-02-24 19:29:07

Typical labour. Go against tories just cos and no plans like their leader. Labour win too see how bad look at Wales, London, bust councils... Square one... More like 1970's.

Fact or Fiction
2024-02-25 09:23:24

Pedro/Resident - Old enough to remember power cuts and national strikes in the 70's by the extremes of trade unionism which has bubbled up again and underpinned Labour then and does now! Just visit the Socialist Worker and Momentum websites to get an indication of what exists in politics now.

Guy Flegman
2024-02-25 17:43:34

As Labour have had control of Harlow for almost all of the time the town has existed ( control for over 50 years at one point)and the tories have had 2 periods of control amounting to 7 years. I think you can blame Labour for the mess and the tories have not really had power long enough to make a significant impact that they can be judged on.

2024-02-25 20:51:10

Fact or Fiction, hopefully that message will get across to Harlow voters and let's not forget Starter called Corbyn a "Friend" and campaign hard to get him elected as PM

Nicholas Taylor
2024-02-26 09:16:18

Guy, no fan of Labour of course but it was successive conservative governments which drastically cut the monies given to councils to maintain services in the 1990's and beyond which has led to the position we are in now. Just two good examples of this was the fact that in the 1990's the Council had 72 gardeners looking after the green spaces in Harlow and enough staff to pre-inspect and post inspect work carried out to it's council homes. Just taking a look around the town and speak to council tenants and it becomes obvious what the consequences of these cut backs have had. It was the conservatives which introduced legislation which saw offices converted into flats, we see the consequences of that all around the town. We need a complete change in direction, not bogged down with political dogma, wedded to Westminster. Nicholas Taylor, Leader of Harlow Alliance.

Guy Flegman
2024-02-26 10:06:17

I am not a fan of either of the main parties either. I was just pointing out a fact. I remember a lot of the 72 gardeners though as many of my friends and some relatives worked( sat in sheds drinking tea and shooting the breeze) for the council. People used to queue up to get a council job back then. I have lived in this town too long.

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