I see in this weeks Harlow Herald, Cllr Mick Danvers is ranting at me and trying to mislead the public over the Church Langley Monies. I have submitted the following letter to the Editor of the paper for publication next week in response to Cllr Danvers.

Sir – When is Councillor Mick Danvers going to start being straight with the public?

Last week’s letter “Profit from Cuts” was little more than an amateur distortion of facts from a man who comes across as being so bitter that he is still in opposition.

I have no problem with Cllr Danvers attacking my or my party’s policies – that’s normal healthy political debate, but spin and half truths and even untruths are surely not becoming of him or the Labour party.

The underspend, and not “profit” as Cllr Danvers suggests, came about from a number of windfalls at the end of the year. Cllr Danvers and his Labour colleagues may have tried to set budgets in the past gambling that such windfalls would arrive, but this Conservative administration doesn’t feel its appropriate to play poker or roulette with the town’s finances.

And as Cllr Danvers well knows, the Church Langley money was never the Councils’. It belongs to the developers of Church Langley and was entrusted for “safekeeping” with the Council. But that trust was betrayed in 2007 and again in 2008 by the Labour/Lib Dem cabal running the town who dipped their hands in again and again to prop up their own overspend. Had they not made a vague promise to repay at some unspecified later date some might even suggest the money had been misappropriated.

One of the first pledges I made when I became Leader of the Council was that Church Langley’s money would be repaid in five years. Because of the windfalls we have had we are actually able to repay the money three years early. However, instead of celebrating the fact that we have cleaned up their financial mess, Cllr Danvers and the Labour group continue to look with greedy eyes on money that isn’t even properly the Council’s to spend.

The worst thing about Cllr Mick Danvers rant is that he honestly believes there were never any financial problems in Harlow and still doesn’t believe there are financial problems nationally. What world does this Councillor live in? Certainly not the new progressive Britain that is having to pull up its shirt sleeves to sort out thirteen years of Labour incompetence both here in Harlow and across all of the United Kingdom.

Councillor Andrew Johnson,
Leader of Harlow Council

Cllr Danvers is a socialist of the old order and delights in his mischievous letters to the press each week. I fully accept that debates about policy are not only appropriate but welcome in the press but the kind of rubbish that Mick is peddling needs to be scotched immediately.

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.