While we may have relocated to near Bristol, given how much work we’ve put into blogging about the failings of Thurrock Council, their continuing evasion of taking any responsibility for their failed ‘investment’ strategy is not something we can let pass without comment. Particularly when we have friends and our former neighbours back in Thurrock who’ll be the ones to suffer the consequences of the council’s ineptitude and lack of accountability. Also, there are the residents of the local authorities that lent money to Thurrock Council who will suffer as their councils will have to make spending cuts because they won’t be getting the money back.
A few days ago, we wrote this piece in response to the news that the government had appointed Essex County Council to act as commissioners for the financial affairs of Thurrock Council: So it comes to pass… 3.9.22. In that piece, we noted that the leader of the Tory ruling group, Cllr. Rob Gledhill had resigned his position. Since then, there has been silence from the rest of the senior ruling group councillors. There has also been silence from the senior officers, most notably, the Chief Executive, one Lyn Carpenter.
Before the news agenda was taken over with the passing of the Queen, Thurrock Nub News published this article: In the wake of a ‘calamitous’ week Thurrock Labour leader calls for drastic change, responsible councillors to quit and for a new chief executive 8.9.22. It reports on the call by the leader of the Labour opposition, Cllr. John Kent, for Cllr. Gledhill to resign his seat and for other ruling group councillors and senior officers at Thurrock Council to take full responsibility for what has happened with the failure of the ‘investment’ strategy. This is part of what Cllr. Kent had to say: “Just as the public trust in councillors has been trashed by the lack of honesty, openness and integrity of Tory councillors, senior council officers have equal responsibility.”
It’s not often that we’ve had cause to wholeheartedly agree with Cllr. Kent but in this case, we pretty much do, particularly with this: “After such a catastrophe, Thurrock needs a fresh start – but there must be real change and no hint of a cover up.” If the ruling group councillors and the senior officers responsible for this s***show are hoping that people’s attention is going to be diverted by the passing of the Queen, they’re very much mistaken. The people of Thurrock have had enough of being taken for mugs and being fobbed off by evasive ruling group councillors and senior council officers, when all they wanted was some honest answers as to why the ‘investment’ strategy failed and what the consequences of that will be for the borough.
Whether Cllr. Kent will get the real change he’s rightly calling for is a moot point. Before we moved to near Bristol, we thought evasiveness from ruling group councillors and senior council officers was largely a ‘Thurrock problem’ with other local authorities being not so bad in that respect, albeit not perfect. Now that we’re starting to take a closer look at Bristol City Council and other councils in the region, it’s become clear that it’s the whole system of local governance that’s dysfunctional and simply not fit for purpose. Real change in local governance isn’t going to happen until there’s radical social and economic change where power is brought right down to the grassroots in our neighbourhoods.