Letter to Editor: The clock is ticking on who will run Harlow Council

General / Fri 1st Mar 2024 at 08:02am

Dear Editor, 

IN just 62 days time, residents will decide who will run Harlow Council. And, let’s be clear, that is the choice residents face: who do they want to run the town – not the Government, not Essex County Council, or anything else in between, but who do they want to run Harlow Council and this town?

There is only two choices. Either Harlow Conservatives will continue their transformation of the council, or Harlow Labour will be back in to run the council.

I think that all residents can see that the choice is stark, but let’s look at some of the facts at hand which highlight that difference and I will speak, not of promises for the future but on the real and factual record of Harlow Labour running the Council and Harlow Conservatives running the Council. All of these statements are factual, with no spin or promise. I will focus on just three areas: Council Tax and running the council, housing and regeneration. 

Harlow Labour ran Harlow Council between 2012 and 2021. Harlow Conservatives have been running the council since 2021. 

Council Tax and running the council

Harlow Labour increased Harlow Council Tax by 14% between 2012 and 2021. Harlow Conservatives have frozen Council Tax each year and are freezing it again this year (ie they have increased Council Tax by 0%). 

Harlow Labour were named “the worst council in Essex” during Covid. Harlow Conservatives have been shortlisted for the ‘Most Improved Council of the year’ in the whole of England this year.


Harlow Labour had a backlog of 5,000 outstanding housing repairs on just over 9,000 council homes. This year, the Harlow Conservatives have cleared 97% of that backlog and are on track to clear the backlog entirely in the next three weeks. 

Harlow Labour had an average wait time for a repair of over nine months (270 days). This year, the Harlow Conservatives have cut that to 60 days and will be bringing it down to under 30 days by the end of March. 

Harlow Labour allowed London Councils to place residents in Harlow and allow Harlow Council homes to go to people from outside of Harlow. Harlow Conservatives have overhauled the council’s Housing Allocations Policy to ensure that Harlow homes are for Harlow people, that it is easier for local residents to access council housing, and that people placed in Harlow by other councils in temporary accommodation cannot access Harlow’s housing. Harlow Labour opposed the changes the Harlow Conservatives made. 

Harlow Labour did not inspect council properties to support tenants or carry out surveys of the condition to improve maintenance. This year, Harlow Conservatives have introduced a programme to inspect every council home each year and for a specialist survey of every property to improve maintenance of council properties. 


Harlow Labour secured no investment for the town centre (private nor Government investment) and commenced no regeneration projects. In fact, in December 2020 they lost out on £10.4 million from the Government because their bid did not show “basic value for money”. Harlow Conservatives have secured £50 million from the Government as well as hundreds of millions from the private sector and are commencing the biggest regeneration programme Harlow has ever seen. 

Harlow Labour had to pay the Government £3.5 million because they failed to build any council homes and they wasted another £1.13 million on housebuilding schemes that never happened. Harlow Conservatives are building hundreds of new council homes over the next four years with 11 council housing building schemes (103 new homes) underway at present and will not have to pay any money back to the Government and have wasted no money on schemes that are not progressing.

Harlow Labour left the council as the smallest landowner in the town centre with no masterplan or planning policies, and no control over the town centre. Under Harlow Conservatives, the council is now the biggest landowner, with a proper Town Centre Masterplan in place and is in the driving seat of town centre regeneration with construction work underway. 

Harlow Labour had no development partnership or vehicle to deliver any regeneration. Harlow Conservatives have set up the Harlow Regeneration Partnership with one of the UK’s most successful regeneration companies and the partnership is already building new developments. 

The choice in 65 days time

I could go on and on with so much more like Harlow Labour only cut the grass every 4 weeks, Harlow Conservatives cut the grass every 10 days and so on but I think the reality is clear. Harlow Labour cannot run Harlow Council. They have no ideas, no plan and no clue on how to run our town. 

People can say as they wish about the Government, foreign policy, the County Council and everything else. But this election is to decide who runs Harlow Council.

The Harlow Conservatives are rebuilding our town and delivering on your priorities. Vote for the Harlow Conservatives to run Harlow Council this May. 

Cllr Dan Swords

Leader of Harlow Council and the Harlow Conservatives

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25 Comments for Letter to Editor: The clock is ticking on who will run Harlow Council:

2024-03-01 08:40:05

After Labour's shambolic performance last week in failing to produce an alternative budget, it is clear there have no plans. Labour even voted against the Council Tax Support Scheme that they had previously introduced to help the most vulnerable on our community. I am not a natural Tory, but this is about local issues and administering Harlow only. It is not really party political but more about efficiency.Harlow Labour falls well short of what is required.

2024-03-01 09:04:28

Well we don't want more undesirables being shopped into Harlow by London boroughs. I remember some time back the former Harlow Labour leader, Mark Ingall said on YH that he was having "mature conversations" with London Boroughs. Well damn the mature conversations, we want a total block on this. The last thing we need is another blot on the town with a Terminus House II. Everything must be done to stop Newham buying new apartments to be filled with people causing problems for Garlow and straining our resources. Whoever stops this should get our votes.

gary roberts
2024-03-01 09:14:29

Why did the Conservatives have what can only be described above as a party political advert on this site? Was it free or did they pay for it? Mind you it was more about the local Labour party than the so called "promises" of the current incumbents. Would you vote for the Conservatives in this town? No me neither. The question is, would you vote at all in May?

2024-03-01 09:24:39

When they say 'run' they mean 'run into the ground' .

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-01 11:22:37

🤣🤣 must be an election coming up.

2024-03-01 12:37:58

delivering on your priorities???? Really Cllr Swords? Do you want to explain this to Hackney carriage and private hire drivers that you have let down???

James Leppard
2024-03-01 12:41:07

Everything stated by the Leader of the Council is factually correct. I fail to understand why anyone would have a adverse view on a factual presentation.

Paul Fagan
2024-03-01 13:26:52

I was under the impression the labour council could not do anything to stop London councils rehousing people in office blocks in Harlow

peter henegan
2024-03-01 14:04:50

Whilst Dan may have been a bit economical with some facts such as the block of flats at Burnt Mill being sold off to a London borough despite him being pictured there with his spade, I have to say that the conservatives seem to have brought an energy to the town. This conflicts totally with the conservatives in County Hall and Westminster who seem to have let us all down badly. Not being a tenant, I cannot comment on how tenancies may have changed. Personally I would support Harlow Alliance party, because we badly need representatives with local knowledge to provide an alternative view to the big 2 even if they cannot yet form a council

Alderman Durcan
2024-03-01 16:11:52

Sadly yet again a series of untruths that shows how desperate the local Tories want to cling on to the council. Now openly distancing themselves from the MP and the 4 elected Tory councillors. Yet again promises for tomorrow,just the same as the last 3 years. Let’s not forget the promise of a world class cycling track ,funding secured for PAH ,public health secured with hundreds of new jobs ,all promised and still waiting. The loss of 2 CEO and other senior managers. Not surprised most people don’t trust politicians

James Leppard
2024-03-01 18:25:46

Alderman Durcan, most of what you mention is wholly extraneous to the article and do not fall within the remit of Harlow Council. Please explain your first sentence: "series of untruths.....". Please point them out specifically. Also, you might want to also post your Labour Alternative Budget, which was omitted by your Group at last Full Council. That is wholly without precedent. Oh, and while you are at it, you might like to explain to the electorate why Harlow Labour councillors voted unanimously against the proposed Council Tax Support Scheme for Harlow's most vulnerable residents; ironically, a scheme introduced by a previous Labour administration. Astounding behaviour!

2024-03-01 18:52:16

James Leppard, I'll give you some untruths all of which your leader has told the Hackney carriage and private hire drivers then stating in full council he would reply to an email from January 2nd within 5 days? Never answered? That's untruths? Please don't protect him. Or do you have his answers to the 20 questions? If not then please don't get involved.

P1ssed off taxi driver.
2024-03-01 20:06:37

Dan. As a Hackney carriage driver that heard all the promises that you made at meetings I’m feeling very let down. You promised us loads, but have delivered on practically nothing to protect the black cab and private hire trade in this town. You talk the talk but you certainly don’t walk the walk. Too late to deliver your promises now, if you get re elected then we will remind you of them.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-01 20:30:18

Perhaps this council could write a couple of fiction books,for the new shop. 😄 🤣

2024-03-01 21:19:56

Make a town we can be proud of, and stop selling off our amenities, to lower the rates. Give us back,we had a fantastic town, sports centre,a great pool with parking spaces for the park. Now just flats.

David Forman
2024-03-02 00:26:48

Alderman Durcan is one to talk about untruths, he should know. During February's full council meeting Durcan accused the Chair, councillor Andrew Johnson, of partisan chairmanship. This was a blatant slur which councillor Johnson took him to task over. I regularly ask the Conservatives in the council chamber challenging questions and I have never had cause to doubt councillor Johnson's chairing abilities. In fact Andrew Johnson is by far the best Chair Harlow Council has ever had.

Bruce Downey
2024-03-02 05:45:23

🎰 Latest Odds: Tories 1/2, Labour 10/1, Bar 100/1.

2024-03-02 09:34:42

I must admit the council does appear to be in good hands when so many councils are facing bankruptcy. However there is so much more that must be done.

2024-03-02 12:05:05

I know I have been lied to by a Tory councillor, yet the council will not do anything about it.

2024-03-02 12:11:20

Just do what you say, it's as simple as that..the public are tired of the conservatives who don't deliver what they say. #emptypromises

2024-03-02 12:23:19

Let's face, we are still waiting for Cllr Dan Swords to lay down in front of the bulldozers to protect green spaces in town. The trouble is that he's been too busy holding gates open for the invasion of hggt, flooding, more air pollution and the wrecking machines that are now ironically the symbol of Harlow Conservatives chosen by themselves on their election propaganda at least a true reflection of a party funded by donations from land banking property speculators. This is a party that thinks stuffing the town centre with clusters of high rise 16 story flats (where London Boroughs wiil dump disadvantaged families)and removing PAH entirely out of Harlow into Epping will revitalise the shopping centre, certainly no chance of that as the town slios into gridlock overloaded by 10000 homes worth of traffic from Gilston and thousands more vehicles from the estates being dumped around the perimeter of the town by Epping and East Herts Councils. It's also a Council that wants to turf out elderly disabled people who have severe disability needs, who have homes specially adapted and who have lived in their communities for over 60 years into unsuitable accommodation elsewhere away from their supportive and strong community roots and service in Potter Street. The end cost will be considerably more especially because these people will be cut off from their neighbourhood support network.

2024-03-02 12:40:26

Labour did have their shortcomings and may never be forgiven for inviting Epping and Epping Councils and hggt pfp in, but the Conservatives then proceeded to hand them the family silver and encouraged them pollute plunder and pillage at the cost of every Harlow resident. At least Labour seem to be recognising the error of their ways and there are other parties for whom one could choose to vote.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-02 23:47:00

Nostradamus well said again, and absolutely spot on. And the truth spoken.

We arent fools
2024-03-04 15:21:34

“Harlow Labour allowed London Councils to place residents in Harlow” Which is still going on under the Harlow Conservatives watch, burnt mill flat??? Why didn't you purchase them when you had first refusal to do so, therefore stopping Newham? He then goes on to say that Harlow Conservatives have overhauled the council’s Housing Allocations Policy, wasn’t that announced like a week ago? As nothing more than an obvs election promise that they will never follow up. It is going to take more than that to fool us this time... he states “Harlow Labour ran Harlow Council between 2012 and 2021” but fails to mention the nearly 30 years they ran the council between 1974–2002 when we still actually had a town to be proud of… Finally, twice he condescendingly explains how it’s a local election and what that means, how thick does he think we are?

2024-03-04 16:37:56

The grammar in this is appalling.

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