The plans to revitalise Harlow Town Park have moved one step closer to securing lottery funding.

Harlow Council has this week secured the initial backing of both the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) for their scheme to revitalise the Town Park.

We have bid for £1.6m funding to help us in the publicly backed plan to restore Spurriers House, redevelop the Water Gardens and the Bandstand and other landscaped areas. The bid also would provide new education facilities and improve Pets’ Corner.

Whilst we have not yet got that funding we have been told that we have made it to the next round of the the HLF and BLF Parks for People programme.

For making that next round the Council has received £104,000 development funding.
This funding should enable us to work up more detailed plans before a final funding application in March 2011.

In Harlow we all love the Town Park but some areas are in serious need of revitalizing. It has been quite a long time since much money was spent on the park. I remember from my childhood years that the area near Spurriers and the Bandstand was always a hive of activity, and that’s the kind of environment that we would like to recreate.

It’s really good to get this far and know that there is a chance of securing the funding for some of the work. Of course the battle doesn’t stop here, we still have a lengthy bidding application process to go through, and we would need to find match funding to complete the bid… Perhaps I need to go and nose around the various European pots of money floating around at the moment and see if there are any for urban parks….

I am really pleased that Harlow Council is working in partnership with the local Royal British Legion to introduce a new memorial to the Netteswell War Memorial garden in the Town Park.

The new plinth will show Harlow’s gratitude to those members of the Armed Forces who have given their lives in conflicts since 1945. The memorial will include Private Robert Foster who died in Afghanistan in 2007.

So both the Council and the Royal British Legion are inviting members of the community to put forward names for commemorating on the new Harlow War Memorial.

The criteria for an individual to be commemorated on the memorial is that they were member of the armed forces killed on active service in a recognized conflict, born in Harlow, and/or had strong links with the town. For example been an established resident of Harlow, been a resident of Harlow immediately prior to service in the forces, been a long-term employee in Harlow or has a family home in Harlow.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I think a great deal of those who put their lives on the line in the Armed Forces, so I will be particularly happy to see this memorial finished with the input of local people. All being well with confirming names supplied with MOD and any remaining family of the deceased then the new memorial should be ready for its dedication on Armistice Sunday this year.

To meet that deadline any names need to be submitted by 31 August 2010. Any names received after that date may not be included in time for this years ceremony, but will be added at a later date.

If you are going to put a name forward, then please provide as much information as possible, including: the service, regiment, name, date of birth, service period, service number and short background.Details of personnel can be submitted online by following this link and completing the on-line form or if you prefer you can send the details to: J. McGill, Property & Facilities Manager, Harlow Council, Water Gardens, Harlow, Essex CM20 1WG

I was shocked and disgusted today by the scheming of a Harlow Lib Dem Councillor to rack up a mass of expenses.

In Harlow, during the budgeting process, which I have documented in this blog for you before, we decided that we should introduce a charge to park in the Council section of the Watergardens Carpark, which was previously free to Council Staff. We were not excessive; £1 a day. More than anything, since it was a tough budget year, this was about sharing the pain of the budget with the tax payers. We also decided that Councillors will have to pay too. After all thats only fair.

Now the opposition voted against our budget, and as I have detailed the Lib Dems never even put a budget on the table themselves. However today when the car parking charges started there were a flurry of emails complaining about the scheme.

What has really taken the biscuit though is that one Lib Dem Councillor – Emmanuel (Manny) Doku today sent the below email to all the Councillors and a lot of council staff:

Dear Colleagues,

Again, I must appeal to your common financial sense to rethink the proposal to charge councillors to park at the Water Gardens. The logic of my suggestion is plainly this (and I repeat what said earlier): I took a taxi to the Civic centre this morning which cost me £4.00 – one way. I shall be claiming this expenditure soon and from the Council. Had I taken another taxi home, the total would have been £8.00, which will be claimed from the Council. Since I am not happy about the charging of £1.00, and as a form of protest, I shall continue to take taxi to meetings at the Civic Centre and claim same. What this means is that instead of paying £1.00 to park, the Council will be paying out many times more that the £1.00. It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that it makes good financial sense to continue with free parking for Councillors.
I rest my case.

So lets just get this right – because Cllr Doku objects to paying £1 to park in the car park, he is going to try and land the council with an £8 a day expenses Bill!!! What makes it worse is that Council Expenses rules say that Taxi fares are reimbursable in cases of urgency or where no public transport is reasonably available, which is clearly not the case for Cllr Doku and his little scheme.

I can’t believe that to protest aginast paying a £1 a day fee that our staff now pay, Cllr Doku would rather use £8 a day more of taxpayers money via his expenses!

And lets remember that the Lib Dem Group on Harlow Council also voted against Freezing Councillors’ allowances on budget night!