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.

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.

Tonight saw me at a meeting of Harlow Renaissance Ltd (HRL) of which I have recently been elected Vice Chairman.

HRL has been running since July 2006 and is focused on driving the regeneration and growth process in Harlow. Their key role is to deliver a range of renewal programmes in the short to medium term whilst having one eye to the longer-term growth opportunities of the future.
the company brings together four key members:

Harlow District Council
Essex County Council
East of England Development Agency (EEDA)
Homes and Communities Agency

As well as having people like The Government Office for the East of England (GO-East) and the Chairman of Harlow’s Local Strategic Partnership, Harlow 2020, and four independent Directors bringing a range of additional expertise all under the Chairmanship of someone from the private sector.

Its a lot of expertise to assemble around one table and should theoretically be able to bust through any problems holding up the regeneration of Harlow.

At the moment they are working on spending the “Growth Area Funding” that Harlow has received, with regeneration programmes for Old Harlow, Clifton Hatch, Prentice Place and Staple Tye.

The evening was good, with lots of work to get through, but the most interesting thing was a presentation from British Waterways.

The thrust of the presentation was to ask us think differently about the river Stort. Most councils etc see rivers as boundaries but we were encouraged to think wider about the Stort, as a key feature of the town, and as a gateway.

The comment that really hit home, was when talking about the fields around the river, near the A414, which for those of you who know Harlow well are the ones that flood all the time; So the chap from British Waterways said “why not flood them properly and make the area a water complex” When you think about it homes and businesses and leisure around water is very popular and doing something like that to this area could really make an iconic statement about an entrance to Harlow.

What do you think? Can every bit of river around Harlow be as well presented as loved sections like Parndon Mill (below)?

Last night the Planning Committee of Harlow District Council voted to allow two new “micro wind turbines” at Tesco in Church Langley

Now I have been pretty interested in these, as a Councillor for the area, and so have a number of my constituents.

But I have kept quiet about it at home as Mrs J (the other Councillor Johnson) sits on the Planning Committee and I would not want to prejudice her in anyway, or bait her into forming an opinion before the meeting (yes the laws on planning are that stupid!)

In the meantime I have told a number of people how they can find out more, explained the details as I knew them to others and told people who wanted to object how to do so. I also got a phone call from a gent who wanted to support the application on environmental grounds but didn’t want his name used in case his “neighbours found out”

There has been some confusion about these micro wind turbines, with a number of people I spoke to thinking that Tesco were trying to install huge 3 bladed propellers, which is not the case. I have attached an article here on them, (and have added a photo so you can see what they look like) and whilst it needs to be noted that the article is by the people who are working with Tesco and so are probably biased, they are certainly not what I thought of when someone said wind turbine either!

They are about 10 metres tall, which is the size of most lampposts and apparently produce little or no noise. Another Council, whose local Tesco has installed them claims you can stand next to them and not hear anything.

I think its admirable that a major retailer wants to do something about its carbon footprint, and I hope this is not just for show but really is about changing the way they operate. I would love it if more people and businesses in Harlow wanted to do more for the environment. But I think if they do they need to spend more time telling people about it before they do it.

Tesco’s as far as I can tell undertook no publicity of this with their shoppers and neighbours during the planning process. The council did its statutory bit (advertising in papers, putting signs on lampposts and writing to those in very close proximity) but still got blamed for not consulting widely enough – even though we were not the applicants. I wonder if there isn’t some way to pass the cost of increased consultation to the applicants in cases like this?