Letter to Editor: Council boss calls for leader’s debate in run up to local elections

Elections / Mon 11th Mar 2024 at 07:42am

Dear Editor, 

I truly believe that the council elections on Thursday 2nd May are the most important council elections in decades. 

Our town’s future is at stake and residents will have the choice of who they want to run Harlow Council. It is also an ‘all-up’ election meaning all 33 councillors are up for election (for the first time in 22 years), on new boundaries so they stakes truly couldn’t be higher. 

As such, I believe that residents should be given a direct opportunity to hear each party’s plan to run the council and ask questions directly to those who would become the Leader of the Council should they win the election. 

That’s why, I am calling on all party leaders in Harlow to come together for a first ever council election public hustings. 

It would allow all residents to listen to and question those who would be Leader of the Council should their party win. 

It would be the first time it has ever happened in Harlow and given the importance of this election, I believe now is most certainly the time to do it. 

The format can be confirmed and the meeting run by an independent chair, but it is important that all residents have the opportunity to listen to all party leaders. It should be a public meeting, livestreamed on social media and available to watch back. 

I hope that this will be taken up and all party leaders will agree to this. 

Cllr Dan Swords

Leader of Harlow Council and Harlow Conservatives

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17 Comments for Letter to Editor: Council boss calls for leader’s debate in run up to local elections:

2024-03-11 08:00:50

This an excellent initiative by Councillor showing strong leadership and democratic credentials. I hope and expect all party leaders will welcome this and participate.

2024-03-11 09:10:06

Great idea if, and only if, they have their squabbles and arguments there rather than in the comments section of every your Harlow politics story. The place for debate is in the council chamber not on here…

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-11 09:43:05

In principle I welcome the idea, but I would go much further and would suggest holding hustings in locations across the town and at different times of the day. A look back at the films of council meetings taken by yourharlow shows that on average less than 100 people view these films and as another example of lack of involvement, there was a very poor turnout at the meeting arranged by the Essex Police, Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner at Moot Hall last week. Back in the day when seven area Committees were held across the town, collectively hundreds of residents would turn up. Nicholas Taylor, Leader of Harlow Alliance.

2024-03-11 09:50:50

This is a great idea. It will give the public a chance to press the various leaders. It will be interesting to see how Chris Vince manages his dual roles of leader of Harlow Labour at Council and as the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Harlow and the villages. Of course the debate should focus solely on plans and policies for Harlow Council. Chris Vince and Harlow Labour have come under criticism lately for their apparent lack of any clear plans or policies for the town, their failure to present an alternative budget to show how their plans would be financed, their apparent inconsistent action in voting to scrap the Council Tax Support Scheme for vulnerable residents and pensioners. I expect Chris Vince will welcome this as a opportunity to set up his stale and engage in active debate under public scrutiny.

gary roberts
2024-03-11 09:53:28

I think Cllr. Swords protests too much. All the same rubbish will be spouted by all and Cllr. Swords and his cohorts will run around saying Labour is this and we are great aren't we. Is he getting nervous about the result? And the electorate have more important issues to deal with today as a result of his national Conservative party's disgraceful decisions.

Peter Henegan
2024-03-11 10:00:46

Dan, I was the first to propose this on YH several weeks back. So my friend, you are the boss, you are not the man who calls you are the man who instructs. So get it (or them as HAP suggest) arranged then we can all hear in public what the various parties intend

2024-03-11 10:15:50

Gary Roberts is just the typical Communist /Momentum dinosaur wanting censorship and no open debate. Stuck in a time warp! The USSR collapsed in 1991, Gary!

David Forman
2024-03-11 10:44:44

Great idea from council leader Dan Swords. The Labour Opposition will have to spend weeks doing research because they have failed to keep up with events, especially the Budget.

2024-03-11 11:38:30

Chris Vince is always bleating on YH. Now he has an invitation to a proper open debate, where is he? Also where the Greens? Seems Labour and Greens just like sniping from the sidelines. Haven't got the guts or the wherewithal to face their opponents and the public. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong. This is important for democracy.

2024-03-11 13:18:55

Chris Vince (Labour) and Yasmin Gregory (Green Party) where are you? Have you both gone AWOL.? You should both be jumping to get this moving.

gary roberts
2024-03-11 13:32:57

Martin, I don't suppose you have any evidence to prove your offensive remarks do you? I suspect not! So tell me, do you think it will be a quiet Sunday tea event? Everyone being polite and reasonable is it? I suggest that the only people that will be there are the same people that comment on this site, except me because I have better things to do.

2024-03-11 13:52:38

An excellent initiative and encouraging that Harlow Alliance party supports this. Hopefully all parties will wish to participate to give residents the opportunity to participate actively in these very important all-our local elections.

Bruce Downey
2024-03-11 15:58:19

N Taylor, is a one-man band..his motto any publicity is good publicity. As long as you don’t ‘dig into’ his left-wing policies, Brexit, Immigration, etc..as he keeps Schtum.

2024-03-11 16:09:36

Dan, please, for your own sake, get someone to proof read these for you. There always glaringly obvious mistakes and it reflects poorly on you, making you look unprofessional. Sort it out, please.

No thanks
2024-03-11 16:29:08

It is an election for Harlow, not the Oval Office... these fools (on all sides) will make our town look even more like a laughing stock once nationals get a hold of it... we have enough shame brought upon our town without a councillor debate adding to it.

2024-03-11 16:56:40

This a great idea. We have hustings for the Parliamentary elections, we should extend this to local elections. So many important aspects of our daily lives are decided locally.

2024-03-11 17:12:09

Cllr Swords, make sure you advertise widely. I'll bring along some Hackney carriage and Private hire drivers as we all have a lots of questions to ask you.

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