We read this piece about issues with the maintenance of the pavements and paths by Thurrock Council on the Crux estate in Corringham with great interest: ‘Weeds in Bloom’ is cynical verdict by councillor as authority fails to deliver on promises on unkempt estate 8.7.22.
Reading this piece brought back a lot of memories of when I stood as a candidate for the Independent Working Class Association in the local elections in 2007 and 2008, contesting the Stanford East and Corringham Town ward. We spent a LOT of time delivering leaflets and newsletters and door knocking on the Crux estate in a bid to win some support. Let’s just say that judging from the image above, the level of maintenance is as shite now as it was back then.
Shane Ralph, the ward councillor featured in the news item linked to above, is a Tory. The ruling group on Thurrock Council is Tory. We have a Tory councillor on the ruling group complaining about officers not doing what he wants them to do. When a ruling group councillor has a moan about their officers, it begs the question of who actually wields the power at the council? It would appear to be the officers telling the councillors what can and can’t be done and offended councillors being reduced to moaning about it via the local media. If that is the case, then what the f**k is the point of our councillors if it’s the officers calling the shots?
Last but by no means least, could the residents not get together and clear the weeds themselves? You know, a bit of DIY community activism that would bring people together and generate some degree of neighbourhood solidarity. Yes, I know there’s the argument that ‘this is what we pay our council tax for’ but as we’ve stated here and also on our sister blog, Grassroots Alternatives, as things start to fall apart, DIY community action becomes a necessity. It’s done in a few places we know of in Basildon where our comrades from Basildon and Southend Housing Action have contacts on a number of estates who organise frequent cleans ups and maintenance sessions.
Thurrock Council through their own hubris and incompetence are strapped for cash. Austerity 2.0 is on the way not just for this council but for pretty much every local authority in the country. There’s only so much moaning about a lack of maintenance and disappearing services that can be done before the realisation dawns that it’s down to residents to collectively roll up their sleeves and do the job themselves. Not only does it get the job done and builds a bit of community spirit in the process, it’s empowering in that we’re the ones starting on the first steps of taking control at the grassroots.