"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and
open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values
of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall
be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
No longer Poor?
Harlow Council has applied to be re-inspected, to get rid of the 'Poor' label it was given at its last inspection in 2004. The Council's application for re-inspection has been successful, and the inspection is expected during this year. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington says:
"This is excellent news. We have all known for some time that Harlow is no longer a poor Council. I am looking forward to showing how far the Council has changed since the last inspection."Since the 2004 inspection, independent inspectors have judged the council's environment and housing services both to be 'fair, with excellent prospects for improvement'.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Small tax increase delivery people's priorities
A below-inflation tax increase, and a budget that invests in local people's priorities. That's the verdict of Harlow's Liberal Democrat leadership on Harlow Council's budget, agreed on Thursday 15 February. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington seconded the budget proposals. He said:
"This budget will result in a council tax increase of only 1.9% - less than 9p per week. This compares favourably with the national average council tax increase; with the 3.5% increase set by Conservatives in neighbouring Epping Forest; and with the inflation-busting 4.5% increase set by Conservatives on Essex County Council.
Tory 'alternative budget' fails to impress
An 'unimpressive' alternative budget from Conservatives on Harlow Council was inaccurately costed, speculative, and would have risked the Council's finances, Liberal Democrats say.
The Conservative proposals were defeated at the budget meeting of the Full Council on Thursday 15 February. Commenting on the Conservative proposals, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Cllr Robert Thurston said:
"These plans are ill-considered, inaccurate, and complete folly. They rely on speculation about increased profits from a new joint venture company that's barely got off the ground, sponsorship and advertising revenue that they can't guarantee, and a massive increase in a Government grant that hasn't been confirmed.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
East of England Plan - have your say
Harlow Council is consulting residents on proposed changes to the draft East of England Plan, including additional housing in and around Harlow.
In order to gather the views of local people, the Council is holding a consultation event on Saturday 17 February in the Civic Centre, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. This will help to inform the Council's response to the Secretary of State's proposals.
If you are a Harlow resident and you would like to attend, please contact Paula Coleman on 01279 446893 or email her to book a place.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Tory council tax rise of over 100% in 10 years hits elderly and vulnerable
Conservatives at Essex County Council have today approved a further above inflation hike in the Council Tax paid to the County Council for the financial year 2007/2008.
Residents will see a County Council increase of 4.5% combined with increases from Harlow District Council and Essex Police and Fire Authorities.
The level of Council Tax for Essex County Council has been set by the Conservatives since 1998/1999. Over that period of ten years Essex's Council Tax, on a typical Band D property, has risen from under £500 to over £1,000 - an increase of 117% compared to a rise of only 30% in the general rate of inflation. Councillor Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrat Leader on Essex County Council, said:
"This latest increase, on top of previous increases, will hurt large numbers of people across Essex, but we are particularly concerned about the financial burden on those people on pensions and fixed low incomes. The Council Tax is a particularly unfair tax, not linked to the ability to pay, which hits elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged people the hardest; it should be scrapped."
In addition to criticising the effects of the Council Tax rise, the Liberal Democrat Group sought to put more money into under-funded services, rather than into over generous reserves. Said Councillor Tom Smith-Hughes:
"Two thirds of the additional money to be taken from the Council Tax payer is being diverted into the Council's reserves on a scale which cannot be justified. It is regrettable that the Council was unwilling to support our amendment to the Budget. This proposed that some of the money being stuffed into reserves should be used on services which the Council's own surveys indicated residents wanted more money to be spent on, such as footway repairs, young people and addressing anti-social behaviour."
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Kier Harlow takes off
Kier Harlow, the new Joint Venture Company set up by Harlow Council and private sector partner Kier Support Services Ltd, started life on 1 February.
The new company is owned 80.1% by Kier and 19.9% by Harlow Council, and will provide the Council's environment, street scene and housing maintenance services.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington is the Councillor observer on the Board of Kier Harlow Ltd. Chris says:
"This is a landmark moment for Harlow. The new joint venture company has the potential to deliver good value services for local residents, as well as significant savings to local taxpayers, and an opportunity for Harlow Council to work in new and innovative ways with a private sector partner."