HARLOW Labour has responded with concerns following the comments by Mike Hardware, the Conservative portfolio holder for Strategic Growth and Conservative Essex County Councillor, that night time lighting should be turned off in Harlow. A comment apparently supported by the Conservative finance lead.
Labour leader Cllr Chris Vince said: ‘These comments by two senior Conservative Councillors are extremely concerning. It seems that the mask has slipped from the Conservative Cllrs who seem to care very little about the safety of communities in Harlow and are willing to put shift workers, including nurses and Doctor’s from PAH, at risk by turning off our streetlights overnight.
“The Conservative portfolio holders for strategic growth and the portfolio holder for finance both show their naivety about the issues of anti-social behaviour, assaults and drug dealing facing residents in our town.
“You only have to look at the recent YH article about the number of unsolved cases in Harlow to know there is a huge issue. I know if you speak to the police, they will tell you that turning off lights at 12 o’clock, which isn’t that late, would only make these problems greater.
“Whilst in one breathe Councillor Hardware and the Tory administration are talking up regenerating the night time economy, in another they are talking about switching the lights off. They cannot have it both ways.
If residents don’t feel safe going out in the dark they will simply stay at home! They have also bragged about getting funding for CCTV cameras in underpasses, not a lot of use if the rest of the town is bathed in darkness.
Cllr Vince added ‘we recognise the damage to the environment lighting does which was why in 2015 the Labour Party proposed a move to environmentally friendly LEDs. The Conservatives rejected this proposal and instead spent £6m on a system to turn lights off remotely saying that it would make a saving of £1m a year. This means breaking even was in 2021, the same year Essex County Council started replacing lights with LEDs anyway. So the whole move to part time lighting hasn’t saved any money and has put residents across Essex in danger, although they have passed on the cost of the whole failed scheme to residents in Harlow. Sadly the Conservatives have short memories.’
Netteswell Councillor James Griggs was equally incensed by the comment made by Cllr Hardware which he called ‘irresponsible’ and added ” He appears to have forgotten that he is supposed to represent the residents of Harlow, not rural Cambridgeshire in a bygone age.
“His comments show how utterly disconnected he is with the issues facing this town. Harlow has the second highest crime rate in Essex, due in no small part to the disastrous cuts to policing made by his Tory Government since 2010.
“The Tory Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex has done nothing in the face of this rise in local crime. He couldn’t even be bothered to attend a recent public meeting in Harlow and sent a deputy instead, a meeting which was very poorly attended because it was so poorly advertised.
“Cutting street lighting will make Harlow residents feel more vulnerable at night, that is a simple fact which we hear time and time again when listening to residents, perhaps Cllr Hardware should give it a try sometime. If residents don’t feel safe going out in the dark they will simply stay at home, at the same time as Cllr Hardware and his own Tory administration are talking up regenerating the local night time economy. They are utterly clueless!
‘When the Conservative led County Council took the reckless decision to turn off night time lighting Harlow Labour took the decision to keep them on. Harlow Labour calls on the Conservative administration in Harlow to ensure our lights stay on and that our communities, our shift works, our key workers, are safe!’
Essex County Council dismissed LED street lighting because of £31million cost | Gazette (gazette-news.co.uk)
Replacement by LEDs programme | Essex County Council (essexhighways.org)