Labour: The proposed Harlow Conservative budget should raise warning flags to all of us

News / Fri 23rd Feb 2024 at 10:34am

THE Labour group are shocked by the Conservatives’ cavalier attitude towards the medium and long-term stability of the council’s finances which will put at risk many of our much-loved services, such as Pets’ Corner, the paddling pools and Playhouse that it proclaims to be protecting.

In fact, it puts at risk many of the services that residents in our town not only like but so desperately need.

It really is an example of wine today and water tomorrow with this year’s budget gap closed at the expense of future budget pressures, a whopping £10.8m black hole in future years.  

That’s a £10.8m budget gap over the next four years, so after this year council will have a choice. It either needs to find an additional £10.8m of savings over three years, risking further cuts to services and jobs, or it will need to find additional income.

The Conservatives keep talking about commercialisation of things but so far all they’ve done is sell a couple of adverts on roundabouts amounting to a magnificent income boost of just a few thousand pounds. They cannot, or will not, explain how they intend to fill this black hole!

This is a cynical ploy by the Conservative administration who seem to have given up on winning the election in May and want to leave the next Labour administration to pick up the mess they’ve created by 3 years of mismanagement and has a worrying parallel to what the Conservative’s are doing in Westminster.

Short term giveaways for which future generations will be paying for years to come.

That’s why after the elections in May, if we are to win the election, the first thing a Labour administration will do is arrange an urgent meeting with the lead finance officer at the council to come up with some real solutions to reverse some of the damage that this irresponsible Conservative administration has done to the long-term stability of Harlow council’s finances.

The choice in May is clear, a reckless Conservative administration or a Labour administration which will ensure economic stability and long-term protection for Council services.

No gimmicks, no meaningless slogans, no chopping and changing portfolio holders and senior council officers, just an administration that will get the basics right.

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38 Comments for Labour: The proposed Harlow Conservative budget should raise warning flags to all of us:

2024-02-23 10:50:00


2024-02-23 10:56:33

How can they not present an alternative budget? That he job! Sounds just like Starmer, no plans and no ideas. Pathetic!

2024-02-23 10:59:44

Why are comments on here being censored again?

2024-02-23 11:05:04

Yes but you presented no alternative.

James Leppard
2024-02-23 11:19:20

As Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance, I can state unreservedly that the Budget is robust, balanced and signed by the Council's Section 151 officer. Unlike the Labour Opposition's contribution, it has been diligently researched and prepared over several months with senior officers. After recklessly and indolently failing in their duty, as the Opposition, to present an alternative Budget, Harlow Labour post this abject nonsense. Is it not reprehensible that they have spent more time composing this fallacious and meaningless waffle than they did in actually seeking to prepare an alternative Budget. It would be shameful were we not to make a charitable allowance for their total incompetence and unsuitability for office as evidenced, beyond any doubt, during their miserable 10 years in administration until May 2021.

2024-02-23 12:07:15

Just think this collection of left wing student activists are going to be the next government probably. The UK is utterly finished if people of this calibre get in. Mind the conservatives are not much better either, now more than ever we need a NONE OF THE ABOVE box on all ballots, Belgium has no government for over 500 days I think we should give it a try

2024-02-23 12:55:52

Some brass neck these Tories have. Boasting about freezing council tax yet they leave us with a £10.8 million blackhole? They’ve clearly given up on governing, locally and nationally. And do they take us as fools? They can freeze the local tax all they like, we know their mates at County Council and the Police & Crime commissioner are raising their rates. The Tories just love taxing, but where are we seeing the money well spent?

Paul fagan
2024-02-23 12:57:00

Blimey I see the memo went out 😂😂😂

2024-02-23 13:44:45

Does someone wanna break it to Matthew Kirkbride that there’s rules in place to stop MPs from hiring friends and families? There’s also limited budgets for MPs offices? And everything has to be declared so the taxpayer can see? Does someone wanna break it to Matthew that MPs’ Staffers aren’t even paid well anyway? Wouldn’t what any of that to get in the way of a good conspiracy mind you.

Clark Renney
2024-02-23 14:08:25

I have lived in Harlow since 1986 with my Wife, who is a Harlow girl born and bred. We raised our family here in a vibrant, forward looking town with excellent facilities and a thriving town centre. A walk through Harlow today is almost heartbreaking, especially when you contrast it with similar towns in Essex and elsewhere. Shops boarded up. The market long gone. Roads and cycle tracks which are almost impassable due to potholes and neglect. The roads are the responsibility of Conservative controlled Essex County Council; and local facilities, of Conservative controlled Harlow Council. If this is what the Tories mean by 'regeneration' I think the answer is pretty obvious. Chris Vince and his team are people of integrity who are deeply committed to the people of this town, and will always put them first above personal consideration. A quality clearly lacking in the current Administration. If you want something better for Harlow, then vote for something better. Vote Labour in the May Elections...

Alderman Durcan
2024-02-23 14:15:12

Regardless of politics the current Tories have decided to not increase council tax so the council has less money to allocate. As a result only essential services can be funded. What was the point in making an alternative budget when we know due to less money we have less options. Clearly the Tories want to paint Labour into a corner about forcing us to increase local tax. They are annoyed that Labour react. The Tories have run out of argument and money. They have run out of credibility but they are in charge so have the right to make decisions. Interesting that Tory controlled Essex county council don’t share local Tory views. Who ever wins in May will start with nothing No wonder no one trusts politicians.

2024-02-23 15:03:35

So Matthew, how would Reform UK work in parliament if they won *any* seat in the country? Would your MPs follow a whip? Would they back their government? Would they claim their salary? Reform gets to throw their toys out the pram because they’re all about protest, nothing to do with power. It’s easy to sit outside and scream in, whilst Labour cracks on with talking about the real change they’re going to make.

James Leppard
2024-02-23 15:28:12

Last night the entire Labour opposition voted unanimously against the Council Tax Support Plan Some 6,000 households on low incomes receive support with their Council Tax. The Local Council Tax Support scheme funds up 76% of the overall Council Tax bill for those of working age and up to 100% for those of pensionable age eligible for support. Last night the Labour councillors chose to vote to end this support to needy residents. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful and the Conservative motion to continue this support was carried.

2024-02-23 16:15:49

Same old Labour ! Moaning and groaning whilst having no plan themselves ! At least the Conservative Party are actually looking to protect the future ! Have you not seen all the councils going bankrupt around the country ! That will be us if Labour take over ! I fear that will be the case ! So Labour - why not stop moaning and start doing !

2024-02-23 16:38:27

Conservatives in Harlow are following in the footsteps of the Conservative government in Westminster. They know they're time is up so they adopting a scorched earth policy, spending money they haven't got, making promises they can't keep, all to make life difficult for those that follow them. Never mind the damage they are doing, never mind the long term cost to residents, it's just political strategy as far as the Tories are concerned.

James Leppard
2024-02-23 17:08:41

Mark, like your Labour colleagues, you clearly haven't read the papers. This year we spent a good deal of time and effort producing the most comprehensive and intelligible papers with visuals, tables and graphs sowing all funding sources and how it is spent. Absolutely clear and transparent. Still there is no accounting for sloth, which appears to be the hallmark of Harlow Labour. Why trouble to read and seek to understand something when can enjoy the false comfort of ignorance and spout nonsense?

2024-02-23 18:37:23

Just scrolling through all the comments and noticed that Clark Renney mentioned about the Market being long gone and shops boarded up. With reference to the Market, the main reason it is gone is because people's shopping habits have changed. Years ago we had a thriving Market, but that was in the days when not many people had cars. Now most have cars and with the coming of the supermarkets, that sell everything under one roof, people can go shopping in the warm and dry, without having to trek round a wet and windy market, on days like we have had this week. Also all the in dependant butcher's, baker's and so on, lost trade because people just use the supermarkets, so boarded up shops is not the fault of the Council, but because people don't seem to shop around any more. I noticed today, while walking back to the bus station, that the Butcher's shop, that was in terminus street, and has not been there that long, has now got the shutters up and for whatever reason has closed down. Probably the location was not in the right place as again it is nowhere near the supermarkets and probably not many people even knew of it's existence. Perhaps if it had been located in the Water garden's it would be still trading.

2024-02-23 19:20:25

If I remember rightly a note was left for the tory chancellor , when Labour lost the last time they were in power. That there was no money left. Mr Vince.

Dan Long
2024-02-23 19:31:26

What do Labour know about budgeting. I wouldn't trust them with any postal note nevermind any form of pound note. By the way,you Your blog are just as bad too when it comes to handling the finances of Harlow.

Dan Long
2024-02-23 19:35:56

What do Labour know about budgeting. I wouldn't trust them with any form of postal note,nevermind any any form of pound not.by the way, the Tories are no better when it comes to handling the finances of Harlow.

Dan Long
2024-02-23 19:37:32

What do Labour know about budgeting. I wouldn't trust them with any form of postal note,nevermind any any form of pound note and by the way, the Tories are no better when it comes to handling the finances of Harlow.

2024-02-23 19:50:08

Alderman Durcan - So you want to increase taxes when people are paying the highest level of taxes in living memory. When people are struggling to get by and enjoy life you want to increase taxes ? How much more do you want comrade, or maybe the state is inefficient and its edifices like the NHS are nothing but beacons of vast on a vast scale.

James Leppard
2024-02-23 20:07:25

Adam you raise an interesting philosophical point re tax and the role of the State. Efficiency and equity is more likely to be achieved if we start from the premise that all tax is theft unless approved. For example, I am happy to pay tax for efficient healthcare, justice, police/ fire services, education services, defence, old age pensions, etc. Efficiency and value for money are vital. Do I want to pay for a legion of Diversity officers, paying benefits and legal aid for bogus asylum seekers, benefits for those perfectly capable of working?? Politicians should be far more accountable for taxation and expenditure. This Harlow Conservative administration has undertaken a public survey to identify public priorities. It has set its corporate plan around these priorities and it has set its Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan fully aligned to the delivery of the said plan. That is coherent and democratic; concepts and processes wholly alien to the Harlow Labour opposition who just flout vacuous, woke platitude to no avail. They are an embarrassment to our town.

2024-02-23 20:42:59

James you had it right at all tax is theft, I nether signed nor was able to negotiate this so called social contract ;) I would happily voluntarily with no compulsion make donations to support police, prisons, defence, the rest is not really the business of the state. Similarly councils should not be able to spend on non-statutory things, people should not be taxed to fund the playhouse for example nor pets corner, nice as they are taxes should not fund them. There is a real attitude in many politicians especially those on the left that they know what is best for us and we are like children to do as told. As for Diversity Inclusion and Equity officer or DIE as it is better know they and their divisive cult should be fired.

2024-02-23 22:20:05

James, you put your finger on it, Tory proposals are "intelligible". Labour may never be forgiven for letting hggt pfp in and the Conservatives cursed for using it to enrich property developers. If we wanted to live in a tory mini city then most of us wouldn't have moved or stayed here in the first place.

2024-02-24 00:13:53

Chris Vince and the rest of the Local Labour councillors simply haven't got a clue, we shouldn't be surprised as the same applies to the National party,

2024-02-24 06:20:49

Ooohhhhh James your party dwells in the comfort of pure arrogance and spouts nonsense this country is on the verge of collapse, fill your black hole in finances by easing up on a few billion that is sent overseas every year the cash is desperately needed HERE NOW!! The Conservative Party need to do the right thing and GO NOW ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

James Leppard
2024-02-24 07:07:13

DEK HAN you too appear not to have not read anything either. We the administration are responsible for Harlow District, not the government of the greater nation. The two are most distinct. Listening to your Labour chums in the Chamber, they rant incessantly about everything that has nothing to do with Harlow, and on any local matters, they are never prepared and consequently embarrass themselves with stupid, unfounded statements. I suggest you also read the report (the link is on the relevant YH post) setting out why Harlow Council has been shortlisted by the independent Local Government Association for the coveted award of 'Most improved Council'. Really, who has more credibility: the professionals of the LGA or the ranting buffoons who constitute what is known as the Harlow Council Opposition?

Kim Oconnor
2024-02-24 10:41:56

James Leppard, I noticed you have ignored nostradamus,, whys that because the truth hurts.. you lost a lot of votes because of this. Your lot put profits before the people of this town. When was the last time you and your colleagues had a good walk round this town. You have no foresight into the future of this town, and the generations coming up.. its all about the profits.. while the rest of Harlow just goes to rubble. Your focuses are on regeneration, which have no benefits to Harlow or its people.. both party's are as bad as one and other.. I hope and pray that we green s do better this year because, we desperately need a green candidate sitting in this council. Or we will lose the remaining green spaces we have..

Kim Oconnor
2024-02-24 10:46:53

Oh an James your lot just put the pension age up again... Will we ever get it, I have friends that have retired, that now have to go on benefits.

2024-02-24 11:04:21

Kim, the pension is un affordable as the boomer generation promised themselves the earth, pulled up the ladder and left the bill to their children and grand children. The best thing we could do is default on them and make the greediest and most selfish generation ever actually pay for themselves.

James Leppard
2024-02-24 11:12:20

Kim O'Connor, just like Labour, you too struggle with facts and evidence. The Corporate Plan was composed based on a professionally conducted Resident Survey over a number of months and is fully reported on pages 16-17 of Appendix A of the Medium-Term Financial Plan 2024/25 to 2027/28, published on the Council Website agenda for last Thursday's Full Council. No doubt you have read this painstakingly and will see that after Crime and Antisocial behaviour (49%) that the issue of regeneration and improved shopping and leisure recorded 33% and 18% respectively and combined a 51% making it the highest priority. I think as councillors we will follow the wishes and aspirations of our residents ascertained by professional methods rather than indulging the whims, dogmas and prejudices of the uninformed and capricious. For your information, I am on the record on YH of advocating that the boundaries of Harlow should be adjusted/expanded to cover the entire HGGT territory or alternatively be analogous with the Harlow Parliamentary constituency.

Kim Oconnor
2024-02-24 11:53:31

😂 😆 😂 😆 😂 you will follow the aspirations of our residents. Your council signed and sealed this vandalism, it doesn't matter what waffle you come up with its fact. Your council will be known for the destruction of our river stort.. you did not stand with Harlow, because profits come before any thing else. And who's it all for, not for Harlow people.

James Leppard
2024-02-24 12:01:01

I have told you my views on HGGT. Must be under a single authority. As for regeneration issues I am glad you have read the evidence clearly supporting the plan. Well done !

Bruce Downey
2024-02-24 14:02:30

Isn’t it funny how life goes..both the leader and the banker stood for election at the same time.. both not in a safe ward, and probably was as surprised as onlookers to win! Now they are running the show.

Kim Oconnor
2024-02-24 15:25:27

James Leppard, I wouldn't support the plan, if you were the last man standing. Because all said and done, even if you are scaleing back,, and I'm guessing that wouldn't be through choice, your lot are still prepared to sacrifice our river stort valley. And all built with no infrastructure.

James Leppard
2024-02-24 16:45:43

As for scaling back, yes you are definitely guessing and is frequently the case ( same as Labour) guessing completely wrong. You have clearly not read the papers showing new recruitment of staff, additional investment in housing, all the discretionary services, notwithstanding Labour's erroneous comments. It really is worth doing a bit of homework. Clarity often comes when one struggles a little less and reflects a little more. You should try it. No more comments from me: Six Nations - Calcutta Cup Scotland v England.

2024-02-25 09:40:58

Adam . Us pensioners do have to pay our way . Do you think the government pensions cover all the weekly bills, not a long way. So we needed to pay into a private pension and many still need to work , and pay taxes on it all.

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