Harlow Council’s group leaders have put aside their political differences to deliver a reassuring message to worried residents in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour council leader, Mark Ingall, and Conservative leader, Andrew Johnson, issued a joint statement reiterating Covid-19 was the council’s “number one priority”.

The council has taken a number of steps to address affects from the international health crisis on the town, including promising council tenants will not face eviction proceedings for failed payments for the duration of the pandemic.

The councillors labelled the pandemic “unprecedented times” and called for “unprecedented action”.

They said: “We know these are uncertain times for all. Support will be provided to those residents who are finding it hard at this time.

“Across the country things will continue to move at speed so local action and decisions will need to be taken quickly. This means there will be regular communication issued to keep residents informed.

“Covid-19 is a fast-moving, developing issue at an international, national and local level. Harlow Council is taking its responsibilities very seriously in following government advice to help prevent the spread of this virus and making sure residents know what they can do to help.”

The party leaders say the council is aware it must change how it provides services over the coming weeks.

From Monday, March 23 Harlow Civic Centre will be closed.

Residents who relied on the centre for housing advice, to pay rent or manage council tax will be ‘identified and supported’ by the council.

Cllr Ingall and Cllr Johnson added: “We anticipate that it is going to be a long and difficult period, but our staff and councillors are committed to supporting the Harlow community throughout. Harlow was built on its community spirit and it is that which will bring our town through this. We have already seen the local community reaching out to support the vulnerable by collecting and dropping off supplies and we know that residents and business will continue to do what they can, but you are not alone Harlow Council will be working hard to help and support everyone it can.”

Residents are urged to continue to follow public health guidance on measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

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