The long running farce that’s the extension to Thurrock Council’s Civic Offices in New Road, Grays, rumbles on: Council mayor-making switched from unfinished chamber 13.5.22. Basically, the work in the extension is, unsurprisingly, behind schedule. We’re shocked…not! The continuing delays have resulted in the mayor making ceremony scheduled for Wednesday 25th May having to be switched to an alternative and smaller venue. This means that some of the guests who were originally going to attend in person will now have to follow the proceedings via a video link. Keen followers of the shitshow that’s Thurrock Council will be only too well aware that they have a pretty dire record when it comes to successfully organising meetings and events via video links! This is going to be…embarrassing…
We’ve written more pieces than we care to remember about the multiple failings of Thurrock Council a.k.a. ‘calamity council’. This is one of the more recent posts that comes with links to other pieces we’ve written: Are they serious?! 20.4.22. It is indeed a sorry saga of a toxic mix of hubris and incompetence. One example of their hubris is the vanity project of the extension to the Civic Offices in Grays. One of many examples of the incompetence is the failure to properly supervise the project at pretty much every stage, resulting in the debacle we now have to put up with and pay for through our taxes.
Regular readers of this blog may well be aware that the two of us running it are hoping at some point this summer to be relocating to Keynsham in Somerset to be closer to our family. If anyone thinks that we’re lucky to be escaping from Thurrock to live in an area where there’s more in the way of local authority accountability, transparency and competence, as you can probably guess from the title of this piece, that isn’t going to be the case. Hubris and seemingly existing for the sake of existing rather than actually serving the residents seem to be common to far too many local authorities:(
Where we’ll be in Keynsham has its own town council. Until we get our feet under the table, they’re a bit of an unknown quantity. Above that, there’s Bath & North East Somerset Council. If you think it ends there, it doesn’t…there’s more! On top of this, there’s the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) which comprises Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset. WECA does not take in North Somerset even though the key asset of Bristol Airport is located there. No, we haven’t got a clue why North Somerset doesn’t come under the remit of WECA but there you go. WECA consists of the leaders and senior councillors from it’s constituent councils plus an elected mayor, one Dan Norris.
WECA have to vacate their current headquarters at Rivergate which is close to Temple Meads station in Bristol: Landlord tells WECA to leave its HQ, sparking debate over “Bristol-centric” search for new base 14.4.22. The authority were offered a new base at the offices of South Gloucestershire in Yate but that has been turned down in favour of a more expensive site in the middle of Bristol: WECA accused of wasting £8m on new Bristol HQ after Yate “snub” 13.5.22. It seems that having a ‘central’ address in swanky offices is more important to WECA than addressing bread and butter issues such as the bus services across the region which are facing cut after cut.
Also, there’s the issue of metropolitan snobbery about Yate which is an overspill town. Having visited Yate on a few occasions and comparing that with our experience of living in an overspill town on the Thames estuary and being close to Basildon, our view is that Yate compares very favourably to where we are at the moment…
Whether it’s Thurrock Council, the West of England Combined Authority or indeed, pretty much any other local authority, it’s the same old story of self serving shite and forgetting that their role is to serve the local residents who through their taxes, pay the expenses and salaries of the councillors and officers. With Thurrock and WECA (amongst many others), we have authorities who prefer to throw our money at vanity projects rather than spending it on the services that we rely upon. All of which goes to show that as we’ve written more times than we care to remember, the system of local governance we have is simply not fit for purpose and needs replacing with one that’s truly accountable to all residents.