Our six-point plan for Harlow Council to kick-start the town’s recovery from COVID-19
Protect the public
Engage with and contribute to the Essex Outbreak Engagement Board to ensure Harlow has the best possible public health measures. Harlow Council must work with Essex County Council, Princess Alexandra Hospital and public health officials to do all it can to prevent a second coronavirus outbreak in the town.
Secure recovery funding
Ensure the council’s regeneration team has the right resources to work with Essex County Council and other stakeholders to ensure outstanding Town Investment Plan and Future High Streets Fund bids are submitted to secure more funding from the Government. Harlow is one of 100 towns selected to benefit from the Towns Fund, and one of two towns in Essex that is eligible to access the Future High Streets Fund. The council must put together credible bids for both if they are to be successful in unlocking these funds for Harlow Town Centre.
Put jobs and the local economy first
Work with local businesses to understand what they need to target and create more employment opportunities in the town’s hardest hit areas. Harlow Council should also do more to procure what it needs from local suppliers as much as possible. It’s time to invest more in the local supply chain and tap into the ‘Harlow Pound’.
Develop a post-COVID infrastructure plan
Create a new strategic plan for Harlow’s infrastructure needs. The Local Plan, Town Centre Area Action Plan, Harlow & Gilston Garden Town, Towns Growth Fund and Future High Streets Funds need to be joined-up to anticipate the needs for businesses, housing and future community health provision. Emerging post-COVID infrastructure priorities must be better reflected in all strategic planning, pulling the strands together to form a clear plan, something which is currently sadly missing.
Invest more in community value
When the council is planning to commission new community services, it should consider opportunities that deliver direct social value as a higher priority. Opportunities to support the BAME community and groups who have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the coronavirus outbreak should be considered.
Provide more support to charities and faith groups
The response of charities and faith groups during the coronavirus lockdown has been outstanding. Harlow Council should set out what more can be done to support the ongoing needs of volunteers who continue to support the most vulnerable in our community who are still at risk from COVID-19.