Last night at the Executive Committee of Harlow Council we were discussing the Good news of the £1.5m underspend in the council budget. The underspend was a result of very tight budget management during the year and a number of one of “windfalls” during the year.

The oppositions Councillors were critical of the original conservative budget, as of course is their right, but none of them seemed to see the foolishness of their arguments. Previous Labour and Lib/Lab coalitions in Harlow had often set budgets gambling on the thought of windfalls that might come during the year, and if that failed they drained reserves. As a prudent Conservative council we decided to not rely on these potential one off windfalls to back up constant revenue spending, thats only sensible.

Anyway, to sensibly use the money that was left this year we decided to top up the councils reserves (which were drained of millions & millions of pounds by profilgrate labour councils in the 80’s and 90’s) and also to top up some of the specific reserves for problems like future redundancies and insurances.

In the last two years of the Lib/Lab coalition a lot of the emergency reserves were raided to prop up spending. The then administration refused to make the tough choices that my administration has since had to face. During those two years they drained £390,000 from the Church Langley reserve; money given to the council by the developers of Church Langley to help maintain it. We gauranteed that a Conservative Administration would pay back that money within 5 years of taking control. Last night it was a pleasure to move a motion of repayment three years earlier than planned, and know that prudent budgeting had made that possible.

Up to 30,000 people across Essex are going to be given £100 to help them with their Council Tax in these economically difficult times.

The Conservative administration at County Hall, have decided that those in most need, families with young children and those over 80 years of age should receive financial assistance.

Essex residents are of course already benefiting from the lowest council tax rise in the county in history.

A number of people reciveing this £100 will be from Harlow, and I was really happy when Lord Hanningfield the leader of Essex County Council told me about the scheme.

Harlow District Council are helping to distribute the money to those people who meet the criteria.

Of course the ability to pass this money back to hard pressed tax payers has only been achieved by the sound financial management of Essex County Council by Lord Hanningfield and his Conservative team;

A big difference to the previous Lib/Lab adminsitration who drained the reserves, a situation those of you who know Harlow will not be surprised by!

Further details of the £100 pound give back can be found here.

Well done Lord Hanningfield – this is the kind of thing that makes Conservative councils different.