The difference a Labour Council Makes

Apr 11

The difference a Labour Council Makes
The focus is rightly on working towards a Labour government and getting Suzy Stride elected as the Labour MP for Harlow on May 7th.
There are however local elections on the same day, and with a small majority on Harlow Council, control of the Council could go either way.
The Labour run Council has been getting on with demonstrating the positive and visible difference Labour can make in Harlow, setting the agenda locally, regionally and nationally; something we should all be proud of.
The first Living Wage Council in Essex.
Harlow Council last year became the first Living Wage Council in Essex, and this has continued this year, making sure all its contractors also pay the Living Wage. Our joint venture with Kier became the East of England Living Wage Champion, the first bit of Kier to be an official living wage employer, and our cleaning contract also being awarded on the condition that cleaners are paid the Living Wage.  Our procurement policy now formally embodies the Living Wage, anti-blacklisting, local employment, and support for Apprenticeships. Tendring are now following Harlow’s lead, and we hope more will follow.
Working to get our streetlights turned back on
Essex County Council’s decision to turn the lights off in Harlow impacts shift workers, the nighttime economy, and people’s feeling of safety, both on the streets and in their own home. Suzy Stride, Labour County Councillors, and Harlow District Councillors have been campaigning hard to get the lights turned back on. Labour run Harlow Council was the first to make the offer to Essex County Council to turn the streetlights back on, with Colchester, Tendring and Castle Point following our lead. Unlike our (ex) Tory MP, I have not thrown the towel in at the first sign of intransigence from one of his Tory colleagues on ECC. Discussions are still going on at a high-level; I met the leader of Essex County Council again recently. While the election has got in the way of concluding this, I remain confident that it will happen after May. Unlike the Tories who proposed a short-term raid on reserves and jeopardising the Council’s future finances and the services it provides, we have funded it in a sustainable way, costing just 7p a week for the average household, and the money will be ring-fenced until this is sorted.
Unprecedented response to unprecedented situation with Travellers
While the Tories indulged in divisive rhetoric about ‘Harlow under Siege’, and wittered on about ineffective measures on fixed penalty notices, the Labour run council quietly got on with decisive action; applying for, and securing, an interim injunction across the whole town.  This was the first time this had been done at this scale in the Country, requiring the collation of thousands of pages of evidence, and hundreds of photographs. This was never about targeting travellers per se, but an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation. This is only part of the story though. There needs to be better provision, both permanent and transit sites across Essex and the Country. We are working with Essex County Council to bring the derelict pitches on the Fern Hill back up to standard, as well as lobbying government to make other Councils meet their objectively assessed need for more pitches.
Building the first council houses in a generation
The national housing shortage is at last getting the political attention it deserves.  In Harlow, the Labour run Council, as well as modernising thousands of council homes, has started a pathfinder project, building the first Council houses in a generation, A small first step to addressing the 3500 people on the housing needs register. We would like to do more, and will continue to lobby the next government to allow the council to invest in Council houses – a sustainable long-term investment.
Protecting much-loved local services
The last Tory administration left just 12 months funding for things like the Playhouse, Paddling Pools, and Pets Corner. Despite massive government cuts, the Labour Council has guaranteed these services for at least three years, provided continuing funding for Harlow Museum and the Gibberd Gallery, and pushed on with the refurbishment of the town park, recognising the vital role that these play in making Harlow the great place it is.
A green clean Harlow
The Labour run council has been reinvesting in landscape maintenance, reversing the cuts under the last Tory administration. We have more grass cutting mowers, and additional teams, and this will show a positive and visible difference as we enter this year’s growing season.
Investing in the future of Harlow
This year we have created a one million pound regeneration fund to kick-start the regeneration of the north of the town centre, and along with accelerated progress on the Enterprise Zone, the completion of the regeneration of Clifton Hatch, and many other regeneration projects in the pipeline. Harlow has a bright future under a Labour run Council.
All of this has been done against a backdrop of continuing draconian cuts from central government. We have cut senior management, cut the allowances of senior councillors, and continued careful and prudent financial management.
Harlow Council under Labour control has shown the positive and visible difference it can make. Harlow needs a Labour MP, a Labour Government, and a Labour Council. Making that happen will require an enormous effort between now and when the polls close on the 7th May. I hope you will join us in that battle.

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