Cllrs Lee and Sarah Dangerfield have deceided to step down as Conservative Councillors on Harlow District Council. 

Since they were both up for Election in May 2011 anyway, there will be no by elections and the seats will remain vacent until then.

Lee has decided to stay as a councillor on Essex County Council.

I would like to thank Lee and Sarah for their hard work as Conservative Councillors both for their residents and the Conservative Party and I would like to wish them well for whatever they do in the future.

A good meeting last night/late afternoon with the Leader of Essex County Council, Peter Martin, at County Hall in Chelmsford.

Peter is one of the Good Guys in my books, a County Councillor who has risen to the top and is not afraid to get his hands dirty, having been to Harlow to help out in election campaigns and knocked on doors alongside myself and Rob Halfon. He knows and understands Harlow and that makes our conversation even more productive.

We are able to chat with excitement about the new LEP and how to make it work best going forward, and we are also able spend some time talking about how councils can think out of the box and share more services, something you will know I am very keen on.

I look forward to working closer with Essex over the coming years.

I was privileged to go to the Houses of Parliament today, for a meeting in one of the committee rooms of the House of Lords to launch the LEP (Local Economic Partnership) for Essex and Kent.

It is always an amazing experience to walk the halls of our Mother of Parliaments, knowing that for hundreds of years, many great MP’s and Lords have walked them before you. It gave me a special feeling in my tummy…

The launch of the Essex/Kent/East Sussex LEP was a very good event, attended by many Council Leaders and Business Leaders (I sat next to the Chairman of Ford UK) who all wanted to work together.

I have strong hopes for the LEP and the M11 sub group received a nice mention from Peter Martin, the leader of Essex County Council.

Community projects all over harlow have the chance to access money from Essex County Council.

The West Essex Area Forum has been given £50,000, to be used on schemes that currently do not benefit from County Council funding. Each project can apply for grants of up to £4,000.

County councillor Guy Mitchinson, who represents the Harlow West division, has been pushing the scheme to local residents and taking the cause to local papers so that as many groups as possible know about the money.

To qualify for a grant, the projects must improve people’s lives and have the support of the local community. Matched funding is desirable but not essential.

An application form can be obtained by calling Yvette Wetton on (01206) 436079 or email yvette.wetton@essex.gov.uk.

The closing date for applications is October 5.

Guy told me that

“To my continuing annoyance Harlow has lagged behind neighbouring areas like Epping, Brentwood and Uttlesford in securing grants under schemes such as this. So please, if you think you may meet the criteria contact Yvette Wetton today. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

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.