A year ago when there were some test purchases made in Harlow, over 30% of the tests were failed – that means that about 1 in 3 shops tested sold alcohol to under 18’s.

Now any councillor will tell you that lots of their mailbag/email inbox of complaints is based around rowdy young people on street corners and associated anti social behaviour. Often it appears as though alcohol is involved. So this is an issue that concerns us all very much.

In that last year Harlow’s Community Alcohol Partnership has been established, bringing together the experts from Harlow Council’s Safety and Licensing Team and the Council’s Community Safety Team working with both the Police and Essex County Council’s Trading Standards supported by the Councillors on Harlow Councils Licensing Committee under the leadership of Cllr Nick Churchill (pictured) and Cllr Sarah Dangerfield the Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The results?

Alcohol sales to underage drinkers are falling in Harlow according to the latest test purchasing figures. The rate of test purchase failure has plummeted like a stone from over 30% to 11% in the last year, which is now better than the county wide target of 15%.

This is a real success for collaborative working between the County and District Council’s and the Police, and my thanks for all the hard work goes to all those involved.

But the hard work does not stop there…..

For the coming year the team will be trying to ensure that the 11% does not slip, continuing to educate and warn retailers and now to target those who illegally buy alcohol for those underage.

Last night I spent an enjoyable evening with a large group of friends.

No we were not down the pub, or having dinner, but we did have a lot of fun.

We spent the time knocking on doors in the Staple Tye ward, which will shortly be having a by-election. We were making people aware of the election, and finding out how they were going to vote. It was also a great chance to get feedback from them on the first 10 months of a Conservative Council in Harlow, and a feel for what people thought nationally of Gordon Brown and his government.

I’ll be honest, not everyone liked the things that the new Conservative Council were doing, but those who didn’t understand why we had to do them. The people of the town clearly understand the poor financial position we inherited from the Liberal/Labour led council, and that we were having to make difficult decisions.

One woman I spoke with, alongside Cllr Sarah Dangerfield, was impressed that we didn’t try to spin or gloss over the problems, and that I was upfront and told the truth, even if she wasn’t going to like it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if other political parties fighting the by-election were willing to be equally honest?

The thing that most impressed me was how well known and liked Cllr Lee Dangerfield, the current Staple Tye Conservative councillor, was by the people we met; and how well known our candidate Lorraine Caldarella was! She has obviously been doing a lot of work!

My thanks to the many people, who were out helping last night, and have been helping every night already. If you want to come out and join us, have a good laugh with the team and help win the Staple Tye ward for the Conservative Party, then drop me a message.