Coronavirus

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We are continuing to provide services during the coronavirus outbreak that our residents and businesses need.

Most services are running as normal, but with the majority of staff working from home, there might be a longer delay than usual when contacting our teams.

We are now making plans for our recovery which will decide when and how some facilities, which are currently closed, may reopen safely. These plans will follow the government’s recovery plan.

Protecting the health and wellbeing of residents and staff will always be the council’s priority. We will only reopen facilities when it is safe to do so and where safety measures to help stop the spread of the virus have been considered and put in place.

Changes to services

A summary of our current service provision is below. HTS (Property & Environment) Ltd has also issued an update on the services they provide for the council.

We will update this page as and when services change.

Allotments

Plot holders are able to visit their plot, in keeping with the government guidance. We are not taking new applications for allotments at the moment.

Benefits

Staff continue to process benefit claims. See our page on getting help with housing and rent

Bin collections

See our page on bin collections

Bus Station

Bus Station Visitor Information Point remains closed until further notice and social distancing measures remain in place within the waiting areas.

Business support

See our page on support for businesses and self employed

Government grants are being issued to businesses that meet government eligibility criteria.

Civic Centre

The Civic Centre reopens to the public on Monday 6 July, but only for essential visits where you cannot access a service online or over the phone. 

We have complied with the government's guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 and have published our COVID-19 Secure poster (pdf)

Remember, you are able to contact us by phone on 01279 446655 and access many services online, like ordering a new bin or reporting litter.

If you need help with something that is not available online, you can also contact us

Community Hub

The hub remains open for the foreseeable future. See our page on community support for more information on the hub

Council meetings

The annual council meeting (which takes place on 21 May 2020) will be held virtually and streamed live on the council’s YouTube channel. The new cycle of committee meetings will follow and all be held virtually and streamed live until further notice. Residents can still participate in meetings and ask questions. You can read the procedures for these meetings

Council Tax

Staff continue to deal with enquiries about Council Tax.

You need to continue to pay your Council Tax as normal, but if you’re having difficulties, see our page on Council Tax Support

Councillors

Local councillors continue to support residents with enquiries and carry out casework. Councillors can be contacted by phone or email. You can view full contact information for councillors

Elections

The local and Police and Crime Commissioner elections are postponed until May 2021.

Essex County Council

You can see how Essex County Council services in Harlow are affected (like schools, libraries and adult social care) on the Essex County Council website 

Events

Harlow Carnival has been postponed until next year and other planned events such as fireworks night will be reviewed later in the year using the latest government guidance.

Grass cutting

The grass cutting programme has now been extended to cut other areas of the town alongside the national measures where households can exercise outdoors unlimited. It will take a while for the programme to catch up so some grass is going to be long whilst HTS work towards the resumption of a full service.

Harlow Museum and Walled Gardens

The museum is closed until further notice, but the gardens and buildings continue to be maintained.

Whilst the museum is shut, we are working on a new project living through lockdown which you can be a part of.

Harlow Playhouse

The Playhouse is closed until further notice. During its closure the staff have developed a digital programme through its Facebook page to keep residents entertained. Keep following social media and webpages for updates on services provided by Harlow Playhouse.

Housing

See our page on housing and rent

Latton Bush Centre

The centre remains open with reduced opening hours to allow business tenants to access premises and continue to provide services.

Leah Manning Centre

Leah Manning remains closed until further notice. Staff continue to contact clients regularly to ensure their welfare and other support and drop off essential items.

Licensing

Our priority will be to ensure that existing licence holders can continue to operate, where possible. For all enquiries email the licensing team licensing@harlow.gov.uk and we will aim to respond to you within 5 working days. 

The issuing of taxi licences is continuing through the introduction of a new remote working system.

Litter

We are continuing to litter pick, as well as empty litter and dog bins.

Parking and car parks

Enforcement activities in the town are carried out by the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP).

Parking patrols restarted on 7 May 2020 and focus on requests for enforcement received from residents.

Updates from the partnership can be found on the NEPP website.

Car parks next to fields around the town have reopened as well as the Town Park car parks.

Payments

You need to continue to pay your council bills. Whilst we are closed, you can make payments online. 

This includes:

  • Council Tax
  • housing and garage rents
  • business rates
  • service charges
  • contents insurance
  • benefit overpayments

You can also pay using the 24 hour, automated telephone payments line 01279 446600

Direct debits or standing orders can be set up. Rent can also be paid by a payment or post office card at a local payment point or post office. There is help and support available to residents who genuinely cannot pay bills at this time.

Pest treatments

We are currently not providing any pest treatments.

Pets’ Corner

Although the government have said zoos can open from 15 June 2020, the main part of Pets’ Corner, including the shop, will remain closed for now as we need to consider what measures need to be put in place to protect visitors, staff and our volunteers from the virus. 

Whilst the main enclosed facility at Pets’ Corner is closed, you are still able to see some animals in the outside paddocks within the town park. We are looking at taking more of the animals out to this area and offering talks and questions and answer sessions with the various animal keepers.

Throughout the pandemic, staff have continued to care and exercise the animals on a daily basis including taking animals to and from the paddocks. 

Planning

Planning officers continue to determine planning applications as normal and the council’s first virtual planning committee will take place at the end of May. The Local Plan Main Modifications consultation was extended until 31 May 2020.

Playgrounds and outdoor sports facilities

All playgrounds remain closed until further notice, in line with government guidance. Council-owned tennis courts, basketball courts, multi-use games areas and the skate park are currently closed and should not be used by the public. This is while we review what hygiene and social distancing measures are needed to help stop any spread of the virus.

Privacy

You can read our coronavirus privacy notice for information on how we will use your data during this pandemic.

Safety and crime

Our Community Safety team continue to carry out patrols around the town and monitoring restrictions working alongside the police.

Sam’s Place

Sam’s Place remains closed until further notice. During the service’s closure regular contact is being made with children and families.

Street cleaning

We have now resumed our full street cleaning service and are working to catch up with outstanding street cleaning. We are focussed on clearing fly tips as quickly as possible.

Supported housing

Housing officers remain in regularly contact with tenants. The Careline service continues to operate 24 hours a day to provide support of the most vulnerable residents. Supported housing common rooms remain closed for gatherings and individual use. Residents still have access to communal laundry facilities via common rooms.

Town Park

The Town Park remains open for all to enjoy and has been open during the outbreak.

The car parks have reopened but playgrounds, the toilets, skate park and outdoor gym equipment remain closed until further notice.

Spurriers Café is open for takeway, 7 days a week.

We ask all visitors to respect the current government guidelines for open spaces, such as 2m social distancing and remaining in groups of no more than 6 people - with 160 acres we have plenty of room! We also ask you to help our litter teams by taking your litter home with you where possible.

Our Town Park volunteers have been busy watering and weeding plants during a very dry period, and hosting the Harlow Grows project, where 300 vegetable boxes and compost were distributed to local houses to grow their own vegetables. The Walled Garden has also been used to provide hanging baskets filled with bedding plants, which have been placed around the park and other places across Harlow to provide a splash of colour and lift spirits.

We look forward to seeing you enjoying our park, voted one of the 10 favourite parks in 2019!

Trees

We will be dealing with trees on a case by case basis with each case being individually risk assessed. Trees posing a risk to persons or property will continue to be the priority.

Youth Council

The Youth Council are currently not meeting but regular contact is being made with youth councillors to support their wellbeing.