Robert Halfon MP issues statement over future of UK Health Security Agency in Harlow

News / Sat 2nd Mar 2024 at 10:39am

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has issued a statement following a highly critical report on the future of the UK Health Agency in Harlow.

Robert Halfon said: “Since I was elected in 2010, I have done everything possible to build an even better Harlow.

That is why I worked hard to secure £27 million for our new Enterprise Hub, £85 million for the new Junction 7A, £16.5 million to upgrade Harlow College and open the £12 million Advanced Manufacturing Centre, £23.7 million for our new Town Deal and £20 million for our new Arts Cultural Quarter. 

“I have long championed the relocation of UKHSA to Harlow, ever since George Osborne announced the move of then-Public Health England to Harlow’s GlaxoSmithKline building in 2015. 

“As your local MP, I have spoken in Parliament, tabled motions and questioned Ministers, as well as hosting Health Secretaries in Harlow to further champion UKHSA’s relocation. In fact, in the last fortnight I met with the Health Secretary to discuss UKHSA’s role in Harlow. Last year, I also welcomed Lord Markham, the Minister in charge of UKHSA and healthcare infrastructure, to Harlow to visit the GSK site and see how it can be used to support public health in our town. 

“As residents will know, £400 million has already been spent to purchase the site and begin plans to bring UKHSA to Harlow by the Government. “Inevitably, the restructuring and reorganising of PHE into UKHSA following the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed this project, alongside the difficult economic challenges this country faces.

“I will continue doing all I can to build an even better Harlow and continue to bring investment into our town.”

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17 Comments for Robert Halfon MP issues statement over future of UK Health Security Agency in Harlow:

2024-03-02 10:59:35

You can only claim to be 'continuing' to bring investment to our town once you've actually succeeded in doing it. More airy fairy hype.

2024-03-02 11:02:09

Funny how we are focused on getting government investment. We never focus on bringing real productive industry to the town always things which are funded by the tax payer. It is like politicians have no idea how to grow businesses it is easier for them to push public sector jobs and organisations.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-02 12:20:19

Nine years and hundreds of millions of pounds spent and still no sign of a decision being made. I really don't think that attending meetings and writing the odd letter constitutes working hard when compared with working on a production line or fixing a roof for example. The failed claim of a new hospital, supporting the ripping up of the Green Belt land around Harlow, the destruction of food production in local commercial green houses and trashing the River Stort, these will be the legacy of our MP for decades to come.

Stephen Archer
2024-03-02 12:34:29

So in short its not happening. The biggest transformational project Harlow would ever have seen. Not only the primary public health/research site in the UK, but the most important in Europe - and by extension, as Mr Halfon memorably said, the world! I'm not decrying Mr Halfon's efforts in bringing investment to Harlow, although results are mixed to say the least. But is the promised new hospital also dependent upon the UKHSA relocation? I see no earth moved at the proposed site. Perhaps that's made up for by building Sir Frederick Gibberd College twice over, judging from the number of earth removal lorries negotiating residential roads. The problem isn't just Harlow's. And its not all Mr Halfon's fault, although he must take responsibility for announcing government plans which his government won't or can't deliver. The problem is Conservative mis-rule. How many Prime Ministers have we had recently? How many changes in government personnel? How many changes of policy does that imply? No less than TEN different Secretaries of State for Education since 2015. Frankly its been an embarrassing carousel of chaos. And the result? Lack of growth, lack of business confidence and investment, continuing poor productivity, and the frankly ludicrous situation of industry crying out for workers while 5m people are not working. Through their incompetence the Conservatives took us out of Europe, something they didn't even mean to do. Boris Johnson's complete unsuitability as Prime Minister gave us yet more chaos and corruption during the pandemic. Now Sunak is having a go at restoring some stability to a ship low in the water. But there is a price to be paid. Years of delay and cost escalations finally did for the northern section of HS2 and the same applies to the UKHSA move to Harlow. The government has run out of the guts and the money to see these projects through. And shamefully in this election year, they are more concerned with tax giveaways to claw back votes than the long term best interests of the country. The country actually needs the facilities of UKHSA, and the move to Harlow is still their preferred option. BUT thanks to Conservative mismanagement, the treasury is not now prepared to stump up the £3.2 billion estimated cost for a project to open 15 years late, to the detriment of Harlow and the country. If there is one reason why Mr Halfon will not be getting my vote, that's it.

2024-03-02 13:23:07

Stephen Archer, well said! Mr Halfon, it is the obscene opportunity cost to the town that is the issue. This project has been long dead, though note some people have profited from undertaking all the work done on the site during the last 14 years since the site was vacated. While there has been development in the town, and of course that is welcomed, it much less clear if that has happened because of your efforts? Turning up for a photo opportunity at a ribbon cutting ceremony doesn’t count! (Hopefully Dan Swords has learnt that lesson withe the Hollybrook Homes debacle!). This is a situation where you should and could have had influence within government to make a decision sooner and allow this space be used otherwise. In the meantime Oxford, Cambridge and Stevenage are converting supermarket sites into modern science hubs.. at vastly higher prices than would have been necessary had this been possible on the Harlow site. One cannot help but imagine the developers in those areas we’re mightily relieved that a competitive alternative Harlow option has been put on ice for so many years… and all on your watch! In this regard, as well as the nonexistent “new” Hospital and the shameful, truly shameful shambles of the SFG school reflect a catastrophic catalogue of failures to support, develop and grow the town. Time for change!!!

Mr Derek Clark
2024-03-02 20:45:14

So what did the labour council bring us over the multiple years it had Harlow in its fist, the slow destruction of Harlow over many years, no investment, in fact they could not raise enough to carry out any improvements, ever. When the Conservative party was voted in it's was an overwhelming victory due to the almost total vote going in there favour as even the hardened labour voter changed ship due to the sad state that Labour had got the county into. The proof is right Infront of you, millions have been allocated to the town and work is underway to modernise the town, look around you and see how other city's and towns are in financial trouble. Let's not let a Labour run council destroy what the town has been in need of for more years than I can remember.

David Forman
2024-03-03 03:24:53

To be fair to Robert Halfon, it is not his fault that UKSHA (PHE) is functioning in Harlow. If you carefully read the National Audit Office report, you will find it is prevarication on behalf of ministers in the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care. This has resulted in the scope of the project being enlarged several times, plus repeated re-evaluation of the Porton Down site which I believe is due to the reluctance of existing staff to move to Harlow. The report mentions relocation as a risk factor. At least give Halfon a pack on the back for getting the decision to move to Harlow considered in the first place. Why not help Halfon and our town with a mass petition to urge the DHSC to speed things up as our country needs it too?

David Forman
2024-03-03 03:27:14

Sorry, first sentence of my previous comment should have said "that UKSHA(PHE) is NOT functioning in Harlow".

Pat B
2024-03-03 07:48:49

Surely PHE was in the middle of nowhere with very strict security was for a reason. SAFETY!!! This move to tiny premises within a town shows a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of local people. Most of the workforce will come from out of town so not many locals will actually benefit.

2024-03-03 10:10:46

Lets be honest if you are a skilled scientist in nice areas of the UK etc you do not want to relocate to Harlow. Be honest the schools are terrible, the people depressing, and the facilities and town centre are a dump and not growing or redeveloping. I have lived here 24 years now and the town is in terminal decline, to many have their hands our for government assistance.

2024-03-03 11:11:50

Well said Adam. My parents moved to Harlow in 1953 and seeing some of the old photos on Facebook, you can see the deterioration of this town. Siblings move away at their first opportunity, our 4 did, never wanting to return. What does this town have to offer future generations anyway??

2024-03-03 14:02:57

Lin, Its terrible I quite like it here it is well located, and has a lot of opportunity but it needs investment and the UKHSA is not going to happen. We need to be attracting industry, companies which make things people want, I know manufacturing is a dirty word these days but it is what we need to provide a range of jobs and skill levels.

2024-03-03 14:59:10

I worked for PHE for 11 years I can promise you none wanted to relocate of travel out to Harlow to go about their business. The point has been made that Halfon has driven this project, not so. There are so many Crown buildings in central London this is just not needed, as a report I read on the subject this is no more than a vanity project.

2024-03-03 17:57:21

I was born in Harlow and will be 65 next week the labour party trashed Harlow never spenting any money. The conservertives are trying but not quick enough yes it's time for a change please not Labour Council. And please not Conservative MP. I can't wait to get out before they turn Harlow into a mini London at least l own my home and hopefully will get out if I can afford it when l get my state pension l fell sorry for the next generation because there is not enough activitys in this town and not the proper investment

Dr Macdonald
2024-03-03 23:51:37

The town has been let down over several years by a Tory run council & a Tory MP. Whilst over many years we have been promised investment from a Tory government, none of it appears to be forthcoming. Our local services are cut, and maintenance are at a long time low... Local government investment by central government has been cut year on year since 2010. I fear for our town with another 5yrs of Tory austerity...Is Labour the answer, to be honest, I just don't know.

2024-03-04 12:46:19

Fixed it: “I will continue doing all I can to build an even better Harlow and continue to bring investment into our town. Whilst failing.*

Keith Elliot
2024-03-05 06:48:00

Same as new hospital little walk bomb sites all over Harlow now and could not give a shlt and the rest all talk good at that . Just l lying all the time. And Harlow council more worried about street signs.

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