As long suffering residents of Thurrock (hopefully for not much longer!) we read this report on Thurrock Nub News with great interest: EXCLUSIVE: Review highlights major faults within Thurrock Council’s administration and criticises it for not being able to deliver its promises. And worse may follow with damning revelations about missing hundreds of millions! – Neil Speight | Thurrock Nub News | 2.7.22. In a nutshell, Thurrock Council have been peer reviewed by the Local Government Association (LGA) – this is the full report referred to in the above news item.
Obviously, as this is a peer review, the language used has to be professional and measured in its tone. However, it doesn’t take a heck of a lot of reading between the lines to reveal that overall, Thurrock Council are to put it bluntly…shite!
For Thurrock residents who’ve been following the soap opera that’s Thurrock Council and have to live with the consequences of the council’s failings, this report confirms what many of us have already concluded. While the report isn’t exactly hot news, what it does is lay out the failings of the council and that, in and of itself, provides a basis for the debate that’s needed about what exactly local government does and whose interests it really serves.
We say debate rather than discussion for a reason. Using the term discussion implies that with a few cosy chats, things can be put onto the right track. It evades the thorny question of exactly whose interests Thurrock Council are looking after. Yes, we know that in theory, it’s supposed to be us residents but with Thurrock becoming a Freeport, people can be forgiven for thinking that corporate interests are given as much, if not more weight than those of the residents.
Thurrock Council may well turn round and say that the interests of the corporations operating or looking to set up shop in the area coincide with those of the residents. However, as we’re the ones who have to live with the increasing traffic levels, noise and rising air pollution associated with living in what feels like one vast port and logistics hub, a growing number of us would beg to differ.
We’re not going to sit here and offer advice on how Thurrock Council can improve their performance. That’s because it’s impossible to advise on how to reform a system of local governance that’s fundamentally broken. It may be possible to tinker with what we have and deliver enough ‘reforms’ to keep Thurrock Council functioning – that’s pretty much the aim of this report. Useful though it is, the intention of the report is ultimately to preserve the system, albeit after reforming it to work more ‘effectively’.
Local governance sits in a political and economic system that’s fundamentally broken and does not serve the interests of ordinary people. A growing number of people are sensing that, albeit as things stand at the moment, there’s no coherent movement for change. There are however, a lot of currents of discontent swirling around and as a toxic combination of austerity and the cost of living crisis start to bite, things will get ‘interesting’…