Fess up or get out!

On the evening of Tuesday 8 December, the Thurrock Council overview and scrutiny committee dealing with planning, transport and regeneration will be meeting. One of the items up for discussion is the botched ‘regeneration’ of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope. Ahead of this meeting, the Labour shadow portfolio holder for regeneration, Cllr. Martin Kerin, expressed his concern about the lack of clarity from the council over the spiralling costs of the project and when it will eventually be completed. This is how Kerin’s concerns have been covered by Thurrock Nub News: Councillor calls for end to authority’s “systemic secrecy over the spending of public funds” and demands answers over Stanford’s rail station project.

The image at the top of this post is how the station looks at the moment with the main booking hall and gateline having been demolished way back in the early part of 2019. They were demolished because the idea was to put in a pull in for buses and taxis and build new station buildings further down. This image shows how the rebuilt station was supposed to look:

It was only after the station was demolished that it transpired detailed plans and costings for the rebuilt station had not been fully developed. Worse – the necessary extra bits of land needed to accommodate the new station had not been acquired and it turned out there would be problems in being able to acquire them. Cue month after month of nothing happening until Thurrock Council coyly admitted there would be significant delays in getting the project moving again, let alone completing it. By way of compensation, a ‘temporary’ gateline structure was hastily thrown up by the London bound platform and a ‘temporary’ ticket office was ‘built’ in what looks like a glorified Portakabin in the station car park. The station car park is located on the other side of a busy main road FFS! So, buying a ticket can be a bit of an adventure as you have to dodge the traffic to get to the gateline to get onto the platform…

It now turns out the the bus and taxi pull in originally scheduled to be in front of the station will now be located on land on the other side of the main road where the temporary ticket office is currently located. We’ve been told the station buildings will be rebuilt first and the pull in will follow on eventually. It looks as though the new buildings will be pretty much on the footprint of the old ones. How did we deduce this? This morning (Monday 7 December), when we were at the station, we noticed workers planting trees in the strip of land between the railway station and the stream that flows alongside. These are replacing trees that were felled on land that was cleared to make way for a structure which will now be located where the original station buildings were. You would be entitled to ask why the f**k were the original station buildings demolished in the first place. Seriously, you couldn’t make this s***e up if you tried!

For almost two years, station staff and passengers have had to put up with working and using what was almost a ruin and is now a jumble of barely adequate ‘temporary’ structures. That is not acceptable in any way. What is also not acceptable is the lack of any accountability from Thurrock Council over the way the so called ‘regeneration’ of Stanford-le-Hope railway station has been totally botched while costs rise. What really angers us is the lack of any clarity as to when the station will be rebuilt and what kind of rebuild can we expect from a council that by many accounts, faces increasing financial difficulties. What really p****s us off is the lack of any meaningful apology for the staff and passengers who’ve had to put up with this s***e for almost two years.

This is typical of the mix of arrogance and incompetence we’ve had to endure from Thurrock Council for too long now. Whoever was responsible for this utter shambles needs to fess up or get out. There’s a limit as to how much people are prepared to tolerate this level of contempt from the council before something gives. That point is getting ever closer…

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