There’s no question about it – Harlow is chav capital of the world. Some other towns may come close but Harlow was always going to be the deepest cesspit of chavdom for a number of reasons.
You see, it was a chavtown long before the word was invented. Back in the Sixties and Seventies this ugly moonscape bred life-forms of a different kind. Mods, rockers, hippies, punks, grungers, goths, chavs… they have all made an early appearance in Harlow as mutations of a damaged gene pool. Perhaps the town is proud of its “firsts”. But look where it has got.
Encouraged over the years by a fanatical Labour council which truly believed it owned the town and everyone living therein, Harlow has sunk to depths that none of the brave settlers in this postwar overspill tip could possibly have imagined.
Back in the Sixties the local comprehensive schools were good. They used to turn out fisfuls of A-level students, a significant number going on to university and even Oxbridge in the days when uni places were scarce.
Now they’ve given up completely on A-levels. Anyone who wants to raise themselves above the infantile GCSE level has to go on to Harlow College or, if they want serious study, somewhere further afield.
All the bog-standard comprehensives have been hanging at the bottom of the Essex league tables for years, with only one – the Catholic St Marks School – consistently managing to notch up over 50% worthwhile passes at GCSE.
Several can’t even manage 40%. Put it another way: Well over half, and at some schools around two-thirds, of Harlow kids leave without enough qualifications to get a decent job (5 GCSE at grade C or higher). In fairness, Passmores has managed to claw its way above 50% pass rate this year.
I believe the arrogant, power-crazed council carries a great burden for this decline. Dressed in ever-deepening shades of red over three generations, it set out to create a brave new world but ended up spawning a godless, low-achieving, grasping, loudmouthed, low-aspiration, consumer-led population of dimwits.
As many of us predicted years ago, it would be the inevitable consequence of the regime’s “caring, cradle-to-grave” policies which sapped the spirit of enterprise and resourcefulness from its subjects. But it did get them re-elected, of course. You’ll always vote for the one who promises to hand you a tenner.
The Government’s Social Exclusion Unit reports that all wards (voting areas) in Harlow are in the top 15% most educationally deprived in Britain. There were over 13,400 people claiming benefit in Harlow in 1999 – no doubt higher today
It ranks top in the Essex league of deprivation (even Basildon only makes fourth place) and 82nd in the UK. Not bad going for a large, purpose-built, visionary town in the prosperous south-east.
The council have been crucified for their performance several times in the last few years by the Audit Commission. They were labelled in the press as the Worst Council in Britain. At least there’s some hope; they now have a “recovery plan” in place and, better still, the Labour mafia has been fragmented so no party is in overall control.
Yes, Harlow always was doomed with them in charge. The rot set in long ago, even before they commissioned a priceless Henry Moore sculpture for the town centre depicting a “family group”. In a frightening glimpse of things to come, their heads were knocked off – and it was still only the Seventies.