Today is Harlow’s birthday!

65 years ago today Harlow was formally designated a new town, as part of the government’s scheme to relieve overcrowding in post war London.

Celebrations kicked off in the Gibberd Gallery (which for those who don’t know, is the largest free entry gallery space in Essex) on friday evening, with the creation of a large “65” sculpture and dramtic performances from Livewire.

Today in the town park, along with the Sport Relief run, there were donkey rides and birthday cake (cut by the Council Chairman Mike Garnett) and generally fun for all. We also gave out maps of some of the more interesting features in Halrlow, like the bench where a soviet agent was caught handing over classified material during the cold war, or the details of the first ever residential tower block. Lots happened in historic Harlow.

And lots is happening in modern Harlow too! We may be feeling the age a bit, but underneath, the town in raring to go for the next 65 years!


I was privileged to be able to attend the private view of the Harlow Open last night in the Gibberd Gallery at Harlow Civic Centre.

The Harlow Open is a chance for local artists to enter pieces of work for display, only the best works make it, and I have to say the standard was very high this year.

There were a range of artistic styles on display both in paint and textile work.

The Open also gives some of these budding artists a chance to sell some of their work, although some works are not up for sale, there were many at very reasonable prices.

Wandering the gallery I was struck once again by just how much talent there is in Harlow.

If you get a chance to pop into the Gallery in the next few weeks, please do – it will be well worth your while.

Popped into the civic centre after work this evening.

I needed to drop off my council Blackberry to the IT team, as the roller ball was not working – Its a problem I have had with my personal BB a few times over the years and almost always needs a fresh one to sort the situation.

As a council leader who works full time my BB is a lifeline, enabling me to work on the go. It has taken officers a while to get used to virtual meetings via phone or email about issues but most now no problem about emailing me at all times of day or night with issues for my attention. I hope they either fix it or get me a new one ASAP.

I also grabbed the post from my tray and waded through it. My PA is very good at spotting urgent issues from the pile but I am always left with lots to look through. The thing that always amazes me about the leaders post bag is the wide variety of information I get! Despite living in an Internet age and lots of organisations sending emails and PDFs there are still a plethora of organisations out there who want to send glossy brochures explaining their latest genius ideas…. Sadly a lot of these glossy brochures come from Government departments, something I hope will cease under the coalition.

There are the normal letters from constituents in my ward with issues and some from people who have not got the answer they wanted from officers or other councillors.

Then there are always invitations to events, some national conferences, some regional but the ones I look forward to most are the Harlow events. I have one firmly in my diary for tomorrow night – an evening view of an exhibition that formally opens in the Gibberd Gallery on the 5th, a showcase of local Harlow Artists.

After tidying my desk I dash home to see my daughter before she goes to bed and read her a bedtime story.