Letter to Editor: Harlow Council leader calls Robert Halfon “The best MP this town has ever had”

News / Tue 26th Mar 2024 at 05:25pm

Dear Editor, 

I hope that readers will not mind if I begin with a personal confession. My journey in politics started as an 18-year old apprentice to Robert Halfon. No one in my family had been political, I had never been to the Houses of Parliament and I had never ever imagined that five years later I would be Leader of a Council.

But Robert Halfon changed all of that. He was the first ever MP to recruit a parliamentary apprentice and so much was his commitment to giving people opportunities who wouldn’t otherwise get them, he went on to employ seven more. There are no two ways about it: I owe him everything. 

Robert has been the greatest friend, mentor, boss and MP that anyone could have hoped for. But far more importantly, he has been the best MP that Harlow has ever had. 

Every single day as our Member of Parliament, Robert has worked hard for Harlow, championed Harlow, fought for Harlow and delivered for Harlow. There are far too many achievements to list, but to name a few:

  • Over £30 million secured to transform Harlow College into one of the best colleges in the country.
  • Over £100 million secured to rebuild the town centre after decades of decline. 
  • Over £30 million secured to create our Enterprise Zone attracting genuinely world leading businesses to Harlow. 
  • The combined commitment from the Government to build a brand new Harlow hospital and move the UK Health Security Agency to Harlow, making Harlow the public-health capital of Europe. 
  • Secured a 13-year fuel duty freeze and cut to fuel duty saving Harlow drivers £16 every time they fill up. 
  • Led the building of an apprenticeships and skills nation which has seen more than 8,000 of Harlow’s young people lives changed as a result of an apprenticeship.

He will end his time as MP with more police officers in Harlow than ever before, more nurses and doctors than ever before, more per pupil funding than ever before and over £1 billion of investment flowing into our town. 

But then there is everything which isn’t reported in the press. The tens of thousands of Harlow residents, businesses, charities, organisations he has helped through the every day casework. No matter people’s political persuasion, background, upbringing, faith or belief, we have been blessed to have an MP who cares so passionately for every single constituent. People may hold a different political view, but no one can criticise the work that he has done for the people of Harlow. 

And in my own role as Leader of Harlow Council, people do not see what goes out behind the scenes every day; the support, backing and fight that he has brought. He ruthlessly stands up for every resident of our town and is certainly not shy in holding me to account. There is no way on earth we would’ve stopped Newham Council buying the development without his work, no way we would’ve secured over £100 million from the Government to rebuild our town centre without his work and no way we would be building an even better Harlow every day without the work he has done. 

Even before he was elected as MP, he fought two General Elections as the candidate for Harlow since 1999. There are not many people in politics who would lose by just 97 votes in 2005 and continue to fight for our town. The people of our town have seen that commitment and as a result have elected and re-elected him time after time after time with an increased majority. In fact, this week he became Harlow’s longest ever serving MP. 

It is because of this, that I passionately believe even with the challenges the Government face, I have no doubt at all in my mind, that Robert would win the upcoming election and I would challenge anyone fiercely who believed the contrary. 

This is an incredibly sad day for our town, but I can say with such confidence that his legacy will far outlive his time as our MP. 

Thank you Robert Halfon for working hard for Harlow every single day. 

Yours ever, 

Cllr Dan Swords

Leader of Harlow Council

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29 Comments for Letter to Editor: Harlow Council leader calls Robert Halfon “The best MP this town has ever had”:

Ross Young
2024-03-26 17:43:27

I liked Jerry Hayes - He was a good MP

peter henegan
2024-03-26 17:50:59

Dan, don't forget that Winston Churchill once represented Harlow, as part of Epping

Clare Harrison
2024-03-26 18:09:24

Robert has Winston Churchills chair in his chamber. I was lucky enough to be invited into Roberts chamber a few years ago in parliament, when I was fighting for youth services in Harlow and getting Robert on board to help bring back playschemes . . I’ve got a photo of me sitting on that chair. Thank you Robert for your services . When it’s time it’s time isn’t it and let’s face it, we are not getting any younger in our fifties now. Well done for your work, it’s a struggle being disabled living a normal life so hats off to you for that . I remember you saying you watched some of my comedy when I used to do character comedy and you said you found it amusing. I liked your human side and you were very approachable to every day Harlow people like myself. All the best to you whatever you do. Kind regards Clare Harrison McCartney

View from Afar
2024-03-26 18:42:19

He would say all that wouldn’t he. As for the UK Health Security Agency there’s no sign of that ever coming to Harlow.

Robert Lim
2024-03-26 19:39:47

So sad to hear that Robert Halfon has decided to step down as our MP. He epitomises what a good politician should be working for his constituency and country. And not party politics. Thank you Robert and you will be sorely missed. All best wishes Robert Lim

2024-03-26 19:45:58

Peter Henegan. Dan's to young , to remember Winnie

Johnny Realist
2024-03-26 20:34:36

Clare, how did it go then with playschemes and youth services in Harlow?

Clare Harrison
2024-03-26 20:50:16

Hi Johnny. Well that’s not something I would write on here as it would reveal a lot about a certain party who refused to cooperate and it wasn’t roberts party, but I’ll try to beat around the bush . After that, I left trying to do anything in Harlow. I thought I might be-able to change things so children could have what I had when I grew up here like playschemes, but there is a lot of childish bickering that goes on behind the political scenes and people would rather protect their own egos, than see change for the good of all . Robert supported the youth services bill that day , but sadly what we wanted for youth services in Harlow didn’t come to fruition. It would have , If only people worked together as one , for the good of all, we might have playschemes etc now. Society is collapsing now anyway, so why bother. I don’t care anymore , just like nobody else does.

Mark Gough
2024-03-26 23:16:55

Well Dan would say that wouldn't he! He should know about Winston since he goes to a dinner every November! What a shame that the tribute just turned into a long press release!

gary roberts
2024-03-27 06:16:46

"But far more importantly, he has been the best MP that Harlow has ever had." So what objective criteria did Cllr. Swords use in that assessment? None I suspect, just political rhetoric to send him on his way. Will he still live in this town unlike many of his predecessor'?

Chris Mitchell
2024-03-27 08:37:56

Gary Roberts, How about the people of Harlowcas an objective criteria and their support for Mr Halfon: Share of the vote: 2010 - 44.9%, 2015 - 48.9%, 2017 - 54%, 2019 - 63.5%. Between 2010 and 2019 his majority increased from 4,925 to 14,063. A pretty ringing endorsement. Labour must be relieved because even with the current polls, Robert Halfon would have beaten Chris Vince hands down.

gary roberts
2024-03-27 08:49:55

Mr. Mitchell, the quote was the best MP Harlow has ever had. Is that correct?

2024-03-27 09:20:58

Shame you won't go down as the best leader the council ever had. No new hospital, no health security agency, plenty of demolition but not a lot happening. A new bus station but fewer and unreliable buses. Roads that are worst than third world countries. Crime all over the area. The list is endless. Maybe its time for you to go as well .

Chris Mitchell
2024-03-27 10:30:41

Jasper you clearly know next to nothing about local government do you. Hospitals and health and roads do not fall under the District Council. Maybe it's time for you to learn a bit more before shouting out and looking stupid.

David Forman
2024-03-27 11:03:34

I am sure councillor Swords will be the MP for Harlow or another town in the near future. Thus, the student becomes the master as it is meant to be from a mentoring point of view. This will then be Halfon's legacy.

No thanks
2024-03-27 13:16:34

David Forman, maybe one day but not in the near future at all, councillor Swords is still far too young with no real life skills or experiences. He has never even had a "proper" job only ever in politics. How can he represent us, when he doesn't even know what it is like to be "one" of us?

2024-03-27 15:00:40

I would not think, that there is anyone alive, who can remember Winston Churchill as our MP, but, how about Bill Rammell, I’ve had dealings with both, and I saw a lot more of Bill Rammell around the town, than I ever have of Robert Halfon, and I met him again last year when he was going door to door, canvassing for lLabour.

2024-03-27 15:23:03

Chris Mitchell I am not a fool and I do know some of the workings of local councils. Boy Swords was lamenting about all these great things being done in Harlow. Maybe I need a guide dog as I can't see much improvement. He has a voice as a council leader and local MP's who are Part of the 650 club. Clearly you are one of his admirers. Maybe in 20 years time boys Swords might know how the world works but I don't have faith in him. Just saying in this fine supposedly democratic country of ours.

View from Afar
2024-03-27 15:52:52

No Thanks - re your comment above how does Dan Swords earn his living?

2024-03-27 16:35:13

Jasper . His name is Dan Swords I suggest you stop being a jealous wally and use his proper name. Could you honestly do a better job .NOT

2024-03-27 17:16:53

I worked in local government both with Enfield and Herts for nearly 20 years. I saw how badly run some departments were and yes I probably could do better.. Respect is earned and in my opinion he hasn't got mine. You can cosy up to your mates as its clearly a club for mates.

2024-03-27 18:56:27

Nothing like blowing your own trumpet. They say self praise is no praise at all. If your that confident become a Councillor, or are you already one. With a crap party

2024-03-27 20:14:23

No I wouldn't fit in, I'm not an a### licker and no I'm not Labour either

2024-03-28 00:07:05

View from Afar, as well as a Councillor, he is the “Leader of the Council” an executive post, which I could be wrong but I believe is a paid role. Seems to be in many other councils. But of course at the very least come with even more allowances and expenses for them to swindle.

2024-03-28 03:42:34

Guy, if you check the following link, you will see that the allowances paid to Harlow Councillors are very low compared to other similar Councils like Stevenage and Basildon. They have also been frozen for several years. https://www.harlow.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Members%20allowances%202022%20to%202023.pdf

wait n see
2024-03-28 10:20:52

Paul, fair point but that link is for when he was "Deputy Leader" among other titles, and he was still the third highest paid, I am sure when this year's is released he will take the top spot now that he's the Leader. I also don't think it's fair to say allowances have been "frozen for several years" when in fact it is only the last three years, and the total bill actually increased from 2021/2022 to 2022/2023. And from 2016/2017 (the oldest available) to 2022/2023 it has increased by 17,493£, 184,572£ to 202,065£. Look forward to seeing 2023/2024.

2024-03-28 12:58:49

I don't care what he earns , we would all take it if we could get it. Good luck to him.

2024-03-28 12:59:12

Wait n see, the leader of the council (like other councillors) is only paid allowances. The CEO and officers are the paid employees.

2024-04-03 14:24:35

Yeah top bloke... *cough* Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights Show votes 3 votes for, 7 votes against, between 2011–2021. Comparable Conservative MPs generally voted against. Generally voted against allowing marriage between two people of same sex Show votes 1 vote for, 3 votes against, 2 absences, between 2013–2019. Comparable Conservative MPs generally voted for. Voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life Show votes 0 votes for, 1 vote against, in 2015. Comparable Conservative MPs almost always voted against. Generally voted against equal gay rights Show votes 2 votes for, 4 votes against, between 2014–2019. Comparable Conservative MPs voted a mixture of for and against. Generally voted against smoking bans Show votes 1 vote for, 3 votes against, between 2010–2015. Comparable Conservative MPs voted a mixture of for and against.

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