Tucked away in the Chancellors Budget this week was the announcement that £1 billion from the Governments “Towns Fund” was to be distributed to 45 towns around the country in order to help them kick start regeneration.
After a lengthy process using a whole host of criteria whilst looking at 541 towns in 2020, the list of towns was whittled down to 101, including Harlow.
Regular readers of yourharlow will be aware that Harlow Council has put a lot in store in their bid for a sum of up to £25 million from this “Towns Fund”. It is most unfortunate to have to report that Harlow Council’s bid was not successful. Accusations have been made that preferential treatment has been given to areas with a Conservative MP but this clearly did not help Harlow’s case. Following on from the recent footsteps of the Council’s failed bid for £10 million from another Government fund, it is quite clear that the present administration aided by the Conservatives are clearly not doing enough to convince others of their vision for the future of the town centre.
Only last week Harlow Council was presented with a report to support the proposal to put £5 million of borrowed money into a £50 million regeneration pot of money. However it was lacking in specific proposals for the future of the Town Centre, other than to say more homes were needed as well as leisure and shopping opportunities. The Harlow Alliance Party believe that this lack of specific proposals is at the heart of why the two recent bids failed.
You might have expected that the local Tories would be bemoaning this lost opportunity, but of course they have “signed up” to the same lack of specific proposals set out in this latest bid. Only the Harlow Alliance Party have set out a clear vision for the regeneration of the town centre. This includes the Council purchasing Market House and the land to the north of it, replacing it with a new 1000 seat theatre, exhibition centre and live music venue, turning the Post Office carpark into a large charging hub for electric vehicles, enclosing Broadwalk, creating space for a new library facing Market Square and improving the pedestrian access points into the town centre.