How much lower can Thurrock Council sink FFS?!

The two of us behind this blog live in Thurrock – we’ve been living there for some decades now. We’ve spent a fair bit of that time observing the ‘workings’ of Thurrock Council with increasing disbelief. In 2007 and 2008, in a bid to try and stir things up a bit, I stood as a candidate for the Independent Working Class Association in the Stanford East and Corringham Town ward. It was an interesting, albeit punishing experience. I learnt a lot doing this, not just about the views of the residents I canvassed, but also about the calibre of the other candidates standing for election. Let’s just say they were a mixed bag! Suffice to say, it was from that point onwards that my cynicism about local government started to develop. The current administration – councillors and senior officers alike are only serving to deepen that cynicism.

Every time we think that a point has been reached when Thurrock Council couldn’t sink any lower into the mire of arrogance, incompetence and contempt for the residents they’re supposed to serve, they always manage to pull another rabbit out of the hat. At a full meeting of the council on Wednesday 26.1 when a question about their interaction with the media was on the agenda, rather than allow the proceedings to get to the point where difficult questions would have to be answered, they called time and went home. This was even though there were other items on the agenda to be discussed as well as the difficult questions about how Thurrock Council deals with the media.

You can read a full report of what happened on the evening of Wednesday 26.1 in this detailed report from Thurrock Nub News: Thurrock Tories vote to bring the guillotine down on transparency, truth, accountability and democracy. Knowing where council has invested its borrowed hundreds of millions is ‘not in the public interest’ says leader. It should be noted that the editor of Thurrock Nub News, Neil Speight, no longer receives responses to requests for information from Thurrock Council’s media team. It’s common knowledge that the reason for this is that the council do not like Neil Speight’s relentless quest to hold them to account. A relentless quest which should be a core part of the job description of any local journalist worth their salt. Effectively, Neil Speight has been snubbed by Thurrock Council for conscientiously doing his job.

Someone needs to remind Thurrock Council that local journalists are not stenographers dutifully repeating press releases while avoiding asking any difficult or troublesome questions. A core part of the role of any good local journalist is to hold authority to account – that includes councils. When a council tries to block a journalist for simply doing their job, there’s something seriously wrong with their moral compass. Anyone living in Thurrock who pays attention to what’s going on knows that Thurrock Council have a lot of questions to answer about things that have gone or are going wrong. Here’s a very brief summary of just some of the issues local residents would dearly like some clarity on:

  • What’s happening with the council’s ‘borrow to invest’ strategy and what impact will the fallout from that have on the future of the services we rely upon?
  • Why is the A13 widening project delayed and over-budget and why are residents being subjected to extra traffic through their towns and villages as a result of the A13 being closed at weekends on way more occasions than was originally forecast?
  • Who the f**k sanctioned the demolition of many of the buildings at the railway station in Stanford-le-Hope without fully worked out and costed plans for their replacement?
  • Why do Thurrock Council keep granting planning permission for housing developments in areas that are at risk from flooding?

The list goes on and on, but we’re sure you’re getting our drift.

Thurrock Council are not fit for purpose. At a broader level, the system of local governance we have is not fit for purpose. This is because a culture has developed where ruling group councillors and the senior officer cohort think their purpose is to rule over us mere plebs – they have forgotten that they’re supposed to be our servants. At some point, these arrogant f**kers need a reminder of who’s supposed to be the boss. Residents starting to withhold their council tax payments may be the kick up the arse these councils need!

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