Harlow’s Labour Councillors said today (Sunday 26 July) that the town’s unique identity would be lost and residents would lose contact with their elected representatives, if the leaked Conservative government plans for local government come to fruition.
The Government’s devolution white paper, which is expected to be published in September, is set to propose “super council’s” of a minimum of 300,000 residents. A “super council” would be an artificially created authority that has little economic, social, or historical integrity. It would be too large and remote to support local communities and residents in the way Harlow’s District Council does claims Harlow Labour.
“Our residents will be left with little or no contact with the people who make the decisions that affect their everyday lives.”
Harlow’s Labour Councillors believe the timing of the government’s plans for local government reorganisation is poor, given the need to ensure there is an absolute focus on supporting communities and businesses to recover from the devastating effects of Covid-19.
“This idea is not only extremely ill-thought-out, it comes at completely the wrong time. We should not be having to justify our existence at a time where we should be focusing all our energy on ensuring our residents and their livelihoods recover from this horrible virus.”
Harlow Labour are keen to stress that District councils such as Harlow have proved their worth during the COVID pandemic. Their local knowledge has been a lifeline to residents and communities, providing food and welfare support to those in great difficulty, disbursing over £12M in grants to local businesses across the town to help their prospects of survival, housing 36 newly homeless people and providing vital services to the town including the management of many thousands of council homes. Local knowledge and local services have been vital in supporting residents, from those suffering the effects of domestic abuse, those needing deliveries of food and prescriptions, those that need support and advice, through to looking after parks and green spaces for people to enjoy.
Harlow’s Labour Councillors will take into account the views of residents as well as working with key partners to help inform and development options that retain local accountability and preserve Harlow’s unique heritage as a New Town.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Eugenie Harvey said,
“We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that Harlow’s identity is recognised and retained and that our residents continue to receive the vital support of a District Council.”