Welcome to Roy's Harlow
Harlow is a town in the South East of England in the County of Essex.
The town is about 25 miles from the centre of London and 18 miles from Stansted airport.
Harlow is on the borders of the county of Essex and the county of Hertfordshire, so close that while standing in Harlow you can have a foot in both counties.
Harlow is twinned with two towns; Havířov(Czech Republic) Velizy-Villacoublay (France)
Harlow has all of the amenities you would expect of a modern town.
Sports are well catered for, a new athletics track ,plus a new wet and dry centre Leisure Zone replacing the existing swimming pool and sportcentre.
See over 100 Harlow Sporting Links
Industry is diverse, many firms taking advantage of the M11 and the nearby A10 linking Harlow with London, Cambridge, Stansted Airport and the M25.
Harlow now has two enterprise zones
Harlow was one of the first new towns constructed since the Second World War
Harlow "new town" is now over 60 years old.
Harlow's current population is around 85,000 but the immediate local area population would be well over 100,000.
In the 1950's the majority of the new town settlers came from North London, around Edmonton and Walthamstow, consequently there are a lot of Tottenham Hotspurs fans within the town.
With so many Spurs fans in Harlow there is a Spurs shop in the Harvey Centre, Spurs Store location map.
When it comes to retail there are two main shopping areas, The High, (town centre) Map and Temple Fields Industrial Estate Map where the larger "out of town" warehouse type shops are.
Link to Queensgate Centre shops & information Temple Fields Industrial Estate.
Harlow Public transport links:
Harlow is served by two stations, Harlow Town and Harlow Mill linking to London and Cambridge, neither station is in the town centre.
In London the train terminates at Liverpool Street and Stratford Stations, the trains are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia
HarlowRide lists all the bus time tables and routes around Harlow.
Metro Cars ABC Cars offer a licensed Private Hire mini cab service.
Harlow Black Taxis
Harlow is the main town in the area for the emergency services, the fire and rescue , police and the East of England Paramedic Service all use it for their main local base.
The Police have the Western divisional headquarters in Harlow, covering the areas of Epping, Brentwood, Ongar and as far South as Chigwell.
The Police station is closed of a night time, best place to find a police officer is the A & E department at the hospital where it seems there is always one or two cars parked up.
The hospital, Princess Alexandra is the main accident and emergency hospital for the area.
As more and more hospitals and A & E services close in North East London and Hertfordshire the point will come when Princess Alexandra has no more room, the bed spaces will all be taken, patients might find they spend hours being shunted from one hospital to the next in search of a hospital that will take them.
Princess Alexandra has been forced to cope with more and more patients without significant investment from government.
Care Quality Commission report on Princess Alexandra Hospital
The past, why it affects today
Harlow New Town was planned from scratch back in the 1940's by a Labour government with the promise of a major road to the West and North of Harlow
this is why all the major industrial estates are located near the proposed road.
Unfortunately the Conservative government in the 60's decided to put the M11 to the East of Harlow and junction 7 to the South.
After planning and living in Harlow for decades, master planner Sir Frederick Gibberd upon hearing where the M11 would go is quoted as saying, "It's like planning a sea side town, then someone moved the sea!"
A History of the M11 by Motorway archive
The article tells the story of the M11 passing through the Lea Valley which would have put the M11 where it was planned in relation to Harlow, but the Conservative government at the time (1960's) chose to save £10million pounds and put the M11 in the Roding Valley, on the opposite side to Harlow.
This is why all of today's money is being spent on infrastructure clearing up a mess by someone in a Conservative government decades ago to save money.
Approximately over 30,000 homes are in planning stage, some in Harlow, most are around Harlow .
The area of housing will roughly double in size if all the plans go through, effectively another town around Harlow, doubling the area population to roughly 180,000 or more.
This poses the question of infrastructure, can Essex County Council Highways Department cope and plan for potentially another sixty to seventy thousand cars on Harlow's roads ?
Will they be funded enough to plan and build for the 21st century or be forced to come up with make do and mend 19th century roads.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon had a pledge to reduce traffic congestion as his main election pledge in 2010.
Even going so far as to conduct a TV interview sitting next to a traffic jam caused by road works on the A414 coming into Harlow, pledging that he would reduce congestion.
At the same time his publicity van was parked up miles away in a disabled bay on Fifth Avenue, after he was elected in 2010 he focused on the amount of crime committed in Harlow in the local press.
I thought of the old saying about "The pot calling the kettle black".
2014 No money for Harlow Infrastructure
Towards the end of 2014 a meeting was held in Old Harlow Baptist Church to discuss the proposal of a new roundabout and a extra junction leading into Harlow from the M11.
The proposed roundabout had been put forward before as part of the Harlow Bypass proposal, this roundabout would be the start of the link between the M11 motorway and the A414.
The meeting was well attended, it soon became apparent that there was no Bypass, nor would there be, as Essex County Council couldn't get funding from government for even more congested roads at Marks Tey, linking the A120 at Braintree with the A12.
This would be just a new junction with a roundabout, no improvement to Harlow's infrastructure as there was no money.
At the meeting was Conservative Councillor Mr Rodney Bass and the traffic planner for Harlow both representing Essex County Council, Councillor Mr Rodney Bass would chair the meeting as Conservative MP Robert Halfon had other things to do.
I found this strange as the Bypass and reducing Harlow's traffic congestion was his main election pledge in 2010 surly he should have been there to fight for his Harlow constituents .
Lurking behind the table where the afore mentioned dignitaries were sitting was a man from the Highways Department, he was in charge of the projector and display.
People questioned the wisdom of dumping all the extra traffic on Old Harlow, pointing out how the high street was already being used as a "rat run" for Heavy Goods Vehicles
The traffic planner from Essex County Council said this would be easy to stop.
So far nearly two years later nothing has happened, so it apears to be just Essex County Council hot air.
Councillor Mr Rodney Bass went on to say the County Council had conducted a survey on Harlow's traffic flow and the council concluded that all our congestion is caused by Harlow traffic, not traffic trying to get from the M11 to the A414.
I was more concerned about where the traffic would go in it's search to reach the Town Centre, the Pinnacles industrial estate or the A414 and Harlow station.
The traffic planner from Essex County Council had already jammed up one East / West road (Second Avenue) with the Church Langley Express Buss lane, a brilliantly designed extra bus stop in front of the traffic lights that stops all traffic whilst a mother, children and buggy alight from the bus.
A pedestrian crossing with traffic lights, plus "free"parking at the Leisure zone for members, and the cheapest "all day" car park in the town centre, increasing the pedestrian flow and stopping traffic. ***
The remaining road, First Avenue, was already struggling to deal with traffic and this is where any additional traffic from the proposed roundabout would be dumped.
It soon became clear the meeting was obviously against the proposal without extra infrastructure.
Eventually someone asked how much would the new roundabout cost?
A voice called out from behind the dignitaries £50 million pounds, it was the man from the Highways Department.
*** Two weeks after this artical was first published the Church Langley Express Bus lane had it's traffic lights covered and for the first time in years traffic flowed.
Now the problem is persuading all those that have got their "rat runs" through Harlow that Second Avenue is open again !
According to a E.C. C. spokesperson this might only be temporary they need to see if traffic flows. ***
2015 The Roundabout paved with Gold
The proposed roundabout with new junction on the M11 was quietly shelved after the meeting.
Then came the announcement in The Star £50 million pounds was to be spent on the existing M11 roundabout junction.
Only five years earlier the roundabout had been re-worked, in fact it was the roadworks that Robert Halfon MP had been sitting next to conducting a TV interview stating he would rid Harlow of congestion with a Bypass.
Now they wanted to spend £50 million pounds of taxpayers money on the same project.
I thought the roundabout had to be paved with gold for that price.
MP Robert Halfon heralded it as a good thing in his newspaper column.
It was only after questioning it was revealed the money was to be spent on lighting and works on the M11.
It seems the man from the Highways Department wanted to upgrade the M11 and was looking for any excuse to spend £50 million pounds, it didn't matter what problems it would cause to Harlow's traffic flow.
2015 Junction 7a or Blue Sky thinking?
In the Star local newspaper Thursday June 25th 2015 it was announced that more consultation would be conducted on the proposed new junction on the M11.
Having been told there is no money for a bypass or money for improving the infrastructure of Harlow at the previous meeting at the end of 2014 Essex County Council have now managed to find some money to fund infrastructure works within Harlow.
They must have had a brilliant Christmas! They've gone from skint to loads of money in six months.
This has been possible partly because East Hertfordshire council has looked favorably on "Harlow North / North Harlow" development in the Hunsdon, Hertfordshire area.
Just incase anyone reading this doesn't know the area "Harlow North / North Harlow" is nothing to do with Harlow Essex, it's just a name a series of developers have come up with, the original concept was to provide houses for Stansted Airport workers.
Unfortunately this development has dragged on for so many years or is it decades that more houses were built in towns further North to house the workers.
See the M11 junction 7a proposal here
Don't get too excited the new proposed junction is planned to be completed 4 to 9 years time
Or to put it another way one or two governments time and we all know how fickle government can be, this is why Harlow ended up with the M11 on the wrong side of town.
The Bypass is even longer time scale 15 plus years 2030 - 2035. i.e. three or four governments away.
Is it "Blue sky thinking?"
2015 Consultation Over July 30th 2015Show More...
July 30th 2015 the Harlow Star headline was "12 months of traffic woes down the road".
Essex County Council are quite a bit out of their comfort zone, they are working fast, it was only the month before that the consultation took place.
I just hope the Civil Engineers they employ are on the same wave length.
I hope we don't see a repeat of the Clock Tower Roundabout "improvements" that have just finished after 2 or 3 years, with miles of traffic jams, loads of cones and the only sign of a Civil Engineer is, one man smoking and scratching his bum....watching the jam he's created with a look of pride on his face.
As they started work marking out what they were doing in the first week of August 2015.
We can expect the work will be finished in the first week of August 2016.......lol
I am concerned for all the people that work in Harlow and live in Bishops Stortford and surrounding areas, there is already a big queue through Sawbridgeworth in the morning, if the county council start on both junctions at once, Gate's roundabout and Mark Hall roundabout / Gilden Way to achieve thier deadline, people will struggle to get through, even if they stagger the disruption .
I wonder how it will affect the shops and traders in Templefields .
I also wonder what impact the disruption will cause to pupils, not only those attending Harlow Schools but those that have chosen schools outside Harlow.
At least they will have a good excuse for being late, in all probability the teachers will be stuck as well.
Of course Old Harlow and anyone living to the East of Harlow will be affected by the major roadworks as will the rest of Harlow, alternative routes through Harlow will jam up.
A very good argument to keep the Church Langley Bus lane traffic lights on Second Avenue switched off.
Essex County Council
Or as I like to call them when it comes to road repair, "Bodge it n' Leg it".
I can always tell when I've entered Essex from Hertfordshire or Kent they don't need a sign to say your in Essex the pot holes are a giveaway.
It has taken a while for me to understand how E.C.C. are working out when to repair Harlow's roads.
I've been commuting to Chelmsford quite a bit lately, I used little country roads to get there and back, no pot holes.
E.C.C. measure how deep a pot hole is and how large it is, if the hole exceeded their rules they might get around to repair it ...........one day.
Harlow roads were built using concrete slabs about 10meters long, then Essex County Council decided to tarmac over the top, which means they will struggle to reach the depth needed to trigger a repair, honestly it is like driving on a private unmade road. Example
What did happen to Health and Safety or doesn't this apply to Essex County Council?
Just imagine an elderly or disabled person or someone with a push chair attempting to cross this road.
It has been like this for eighteen months, the road degradation is over 250mtrs but they are only thinking about fixing this little bit.
It's marked out for repair. But that doesn't mean a thing, it was marked out before but the rain washed the markings away....like the tarmac.
It's not a country lane, it's a bus route, a road to a doctors surgery, one social club, two pubs, two shopping centres and two car parks, plus over 600 homes!
How no one has tripped over in front of a car is just luck.
Even when a County Councilor Mr Mike Davers has complained to Essex County Council he's told the pot holes are not deep enough.
They never will be in Harlow as the road under the tarmac is the original concrete slab.
Pay attention to "the speed bump" the road is supposed to be 20mph but it's not enforced, 30-40mph is normal practice.
As for the "speed bump" it's so little the pot holes have more effect.
E.C.C. should take a trip to South East London and see really good speed bumps working effectively.
The little country roads have possibly two thousand cars within three or four days, Harlow roads exceed two thousand in a day, possibly hours.
It is not worked out fairly, Harlow pays more in taxes to Essex County Council than a few houses on country lanes.
Essex County Council are based in the historical army town of Colchester but their political wing is based in Chelmsford, controlled by Conservative Councillors.
They are responsible for; very poor social services for the elderly,no services for youth, pot holes in the road and pavements, missing curb stones, plus failure to maintain cycle tracks.
All to often the local paper "The Star" has letters complaining about the state of the pot holed roads / pavements and cycle tracks, then blaming Harlow council which is run by the Labour party.
Harlow Council have no control over when a job is done or the workmanship that is carried out as Essex County Council are in charge of them all.
Essex County Council had rolled out a midnight lights out curfew across the rural county and was now switching off lights in towns at midnight.
I could see that it would affect community pub and night club trade as the only one's that would benefit would be the taxis and Mini Cabs.
Many people used to walk home from the town centre at 2 or 3 am, plus the community pubs often had bands playing after midnight.
I know I stopped going to my local because of the curfew.
Lights would go out at midnight except at roundabouts.
To me lighting the roundabouts is very strange, cars have lights to navigate roundabouts, pedestrians don't.
There is a roundabout about every half a mile or so in most of Harlow, after the lights go out they are a little oasis of light, something to aim for in the dark.
As it turned out the lights out experiment caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the Highways lighting and roundabouts.
I'm not sure why the roundabouts and infrastructure around the roundabouts were hit by vehicles , perhaps the drivers were dazzled from driving in the dark then blinded by the lights around the roundabouts, so much so that there is hardly a roundabout that hasn't had damage and Harlow has a lot of roundabouts.
In the winter of 2014 - 2015 Labour run Harlow Council announced that it wanted to have the street lights turned back on, stating there were many shift workers that were left in the dark.
National media picked up on the story, both in the press and on TV.
Essex County Council stayed mute on the subject.
Harlow Council offered very generously in my opinion to pay over one hundred thousand pounds for the lights to be switched back on all night.
After much deliberation and after the local tax bill had gone out to all Harlow residents to pay for the lighting, Essex County Council decided to keep the lights on until one AM and refused Harlow councils money to keep them on all night.
This has left Harlow Council with a problem, they increased the rates (taxes) to pay the one hundred thousand pounds to Essex County Council to keep the lights on all night, now it has the money coming in to pay the county council but they don't want it.....I never thought I'd see the day when anyone turned down money.
Sunday 25th October 2015 the lights went back on all night, Conservative run Essex County Council finally agreed with Labour run Harlow Council to turn the lights back on.
TV covered it on both local and national news, Conservative MP Robert Halfon was the only one interviewed by the TV media, interestingly he used the same reasoning as Labour run Harlow Council, " shift workers were left in the dark" .
I think Harlow Council are now paying too much, many of the lights, highway lighting and crash barriers were smashed and damaged during Essex County Council's lights out experiment, they have not been repaired.
The cost of not lighting them should be deducted from the bill or they should be quickly repaired i.e. by the end of April 2016, not months or years later as is the normal approach by Essex County Council.
They apparently have time and money to go round removing central lights by cutting off the top of the lights at pedestrian crossing points around Harlow but not to fix all the damaged ones.
It looks as though Essex County Council has hit upon a nice little earner, I'm not sure if it was deliberate or by chance.
Many other towns want their lights turned back on, Essex County Council now want to use Harlow's example as a cost structure for other towns that wish to have the lights back.
If other towns decide not to pay to have the lights turned on after midnight and Conservative run Essex County Council continue with their policy of not repairing damage to the lighting infrastructure by leaving it to our children or grandchildren to pick up the bill, the towns will have more lighting that doesn't work at all.......like Harlow currently does.
Now the remaining pubs and night clubs that were struggling because of the lights out curfew will have to think of more ways to attract their former patrons back.