Building an Even Better Harlow

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Back in 2007, before I was even a Member of Parliament, I started a campaign called ‘fed up with Harlow traffic’ to get an extra motorway junction built for our town. I did this because Harlow traffic is at gridlock, especially when there is an accident or roadworks of any kind.

I also knew that an extra junction would boost our town’s economy, unlock thousands more jobs and homes, and bring more businesses back to Harlow.

Since I became MP in 2010, I have worked hard to bring this extra junction to Harlow to help hard pressed Harlow motorists. In August 2016, Harlow Council voted cross-party to back the junction as well. Today, the Government has announced that, in collaboration with Essex County Council, this road will go ahead.

I thank the Leader of Harlow Council, Cllr Jon Clempner and the Chief Executive, Malcolm Morley, for all of their support on this. I must also say a massive thank you to Essex County Council, particularly Cllr Kevin Bentley, Cllr Rodney Bass, David Sprunt, and Andrew Cook and the rest of his team, for all the hard work they have put in to make this junction possible.

It is important to note the following:

1. The junction is future-proofed to allow for a Northern By-Pass to be developed further down the line once more housing and business growth has been unlocked with J7a first. This isn’t the current preferred option because, although it will also reduce traffic and increase capacity in our town, it will mostly help traffic travelling through Harlow (from the A414 to continue on the M11) rather than to/from here and it would also cost considerably more to build.

2. Any increase in the volume of traffic on Gilden Way will be helped by the creation of an additional lane of traffic.

3. Restrictions will be placed on HGVs and through-traffic in Old Harlow, Churchgate Street, Mulberry Green and Sheering Lower Road to protect local residents.

4. The speed limit on Gilden Way will be reduced to 40mph and three new pedestrian crossings will be built for safety and the management of traffic.

5. Residents in the immediate vicinity of the junction should be reassured that the widening of Gilden Way will all be accommodated within the existing highway boundaries on land owned by Harlow Council and the road will be moved away from current homes on Sheering Road between Gilden Way and Pincey Brook Bridge.

I pledge to any resident who still has concerns that I will faithfully represent their individual views to the Council, Highways Agency or any other relevant and appropriate authority.

Whilst I realise that while this is a difficult decision for some, it is incredibly important for the future of the whole of Harlow. It will unlock more housing and unlock more money to rebuild our town centre. It means more jobs, more businesses and more prosperity, all which will help build an even better Harlow.

Public Health England Moving to Harlow

Since I became MP, I have been campaigning to relocate the labs of Public Health England from Salisbury and Colindale to Harlow, and I am delighted to reveal that this campaign has been a success, with the previous Chancellor, George Osborne announcing that both of the labs will indeed be moving to our town.

The move is worth nearly half a billion pounds worth of investment into Harlow, and is predicted to bring in 10,000 jobs.  This comes after other major investments by the Government, which include a £50 million investment in the new Harlow Enterprise Zone and £10 million into Harlow’s new technical school, as well as the improvement of local roads.

Public Health England’s chief executive Duncan Selbie announced that the move will provide “world-leading scientists world-class facilities in a region with the greatest concentration of academic and commercial expertise in life sciences.”

In his announcement, Mr Osborne stated that the new facilities in Harlow will include a “leading centre for research, health improvement and protection” and that they would enable the “continued development of world-leading work on international health threats such as Ebola.”

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Annual Harlow Jobs Fair

Last October, I held a very successful fifth annual Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair at the Harlow Leisure zone. Over 70 businesses had stalls advertising hundreds of vacancies to local job seekers.

A huge thanks goes out to Stansted Airport, Harlow College, DMG Mori and CB Lighting for sponsoring the event, as well as the Harlow Chamber of Commerce, Harlow Seetec and the team from the Harlow Job Centre, for their hard work in helping to organise the day with my team. It was great to have BBC Essex there this year too who had lots of interest about careers in journalism and media.

Keep an eye out for the 2017 Jobs Fair coming soon!

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Enterprise Zone

Harlow Enterprise Zone is one of 24 locations across the country, chosen by the Government, to create investment and jobs. The zones benefit from reduced red-tape for businesses, lower tax levels, superfast broadband, and employment incentives.

The Harlow Enterprise Zone has the capacity to generate up to 5,000 jobs for our town, with Arrow Electronics and Raytheon already having signed 15 year leases on the site.

Most recently, Pearson Education announced that they will be moving their base to the site as well, investing an extra £25million in our town.

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More Housing for Harlow

The Government has committed to support the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town development just North of Harlow Town Railway Station. The development will see the building of 8,500 new homes for residents as well as large investments into infrastructure and health, education and recreational facilities. The Government is supporting this with £500,000 of capacity funding to support it’s delivery.

Support for social housing tenants

In the recent Summer Budget the Government announced that they would reduce the cost of social renting by 1% for 4 years, starting from 2016. As a result, by 2020 rents will be 12% lower than current official forecasts.

Extending Right to Buy

The extension of the Right to Buy scheme to all housing association tenants will enable all 1.3 million tenants the opportunity to purchase their home and to do so with the same level of discount that council house tenants enjoy. Once a tenant has purchased their home under the Right to Buy, it is their house.

Receipts from selling current property will help build replacement affordable homes on a one-for-one basis in the same area. This means the number of homes across all tenures will effectively double for each home sold, increasing national housing supply and creating a new affordable home for those in need from each sale.

Making it easier for people to buy their own home

There are two main components to the Help to Buy Scheme: the Mortgage Guarantee and the Equity Loan scheme.

The Equity Loan scheme is open to all who aspire to own a new-build home. The Government provides buyers with an equity loan of up to 20 per cent of the value of a new build property, repayable once the home is sold. This scheme will run up to March 2020, with the Chancellor announcing a further £6 billion to help 120,000 more households buy a new-build home, meaning around 200,000 people are expected to be helped by the Equity Loan side of the scheme alone.

The Mortgage Guarantees help those who can afford the mortgage payments but not the deposit. The scheme is open for houses up to a price cap of £600,000. The buyer only needs a 5 per cent deposit. The Government then guarantees up to 15 per cent of the property’s value, in return for a fee paid by the lender. Only repayment mortgages are offered by the scheme, underpinned by tough checks on the buyers that they can afford the mortgage payments.

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The Help to Buy ISA is available for first time buyers to start saving into from 1 December 2015. This supports people saving up for their first home by providing them with a maximum government bonus of £3,000 on £12,000 of savings, a Government boost of 25 per cent. First time buyers will be able to deposit £200 per month into their Help to Buy: ISA at participating banks and building societies. First time buyers will be able to open their Help to Buy: ISA accounts with an additional one off deposit of £1000 so that they can start saving now. The ISA can be opened any time up to four years after the scheme’s launch, and people can save for as long as they want.