The paper is back from the printer – it’s two sides of a single sheet of A4. It’s a hybrid release of a limited print run, a downloadable PDF and below in this post, the text and images in the paper. In these weird, disconcerting times, we reckon this is the best option as we dip our toes back in the water.
PLEASE NOTE – For the best viewing experience, we recommend that you download this PDF from DropBox to your PC/laptop/phone.
Thurrock Council – old habits die hard
After the local elections in May, on the back of a turnout that didn’t even reach 30%, the Tory ruling group consolidated their hold on the council. One councillor suggested the low turnout showed people felt happy with the way things were at the council and didn’t feel the need to turn up and vote them out. Utter tosh! What the low turnout showed was that many residents sense the real power lies with the highly paid (a.k.a. overpaid) unelected and unaccountable senior officers. If you can’t vote these charlatans out, what’s the point of bothering to go to the polls?
From secretive land deals such as the sale of council owned land in Argent Street Grays to a developer through to residents in Stanford-le-Hope still not having any idea of when work will resume on the re-development of the railway station, it’s the same old, same old from Thurrock Council. A lack of transparency. A lack of accountability to the residents. Covering up for the incompetence of senior officers, such as the one who sanctioned the demolition of the booking hall and ticket gateline at Stanford-le-Hope station way back in February 2019 without a fully costed and worked out plan for a replacement in place! A plan that has still yet to materialise…
There’s the abysmal management of their housing stock with a significant minority of residents enduring issues with damp, mould and pest infestations. Issues which the council responds to by washing their hands of as much responsibility for them as they can get away with. There are threatened cuts to services to the elderly. What sticks in our throats is the services under threat are those enabling them to meet up and socialise. It’s this that keeps the mind active and staves off dementia. After fifteen months of Covid restrictions that have severely impacted elderly people in care homes, denying them full visits and contact with family and friends, to be threatened with cuts like this beggars belief…
We’re dealing with a council that can’t get its spending priorities right. Regardless of all this, Thurrock Council are spending £10 million (and possibly more when yet another project goes over-budget) on an extension to their offices in New Road, Grays. If they think we’re going to carry on being mugs and soak all of this up, they’ve got another think coming!!
Basildon Council – constant vigilance is required…
The local elections saw the Labour/Independents alliance turfed out of office to be replaced by the Tories. This was on a turnout of 30%. The conclusion to be drawn is that given past bitter experience, a majority of the electorate in Basildon couldn’t bring themselves to vote either red, blue or for an ‘independent’.
There’s some good news. Just a couple of months before the elections, the Basildon Community Residents Party – https://www.facebook.com/TheBazParty – was formed. From a standing start, while they didn’t win any seats this time out, in the wards they contested, the voting figures were into three figures. This bodes well for the future when it comes to shaking up the political scene in Basildon.
Also, the departure of (former) Cllr. Gavin Callaghan from the leadership of Basildon Council has hopefully seen the much reviled town centre masterplan (a.k.a. the disasterplan) deservedly consigned to the dustbin of history. This plan would have seen much of the existing town centre levelled to be replaced by high rise apartment blocks going up to 15 – 20 storeys. The new Tory administration has promised to listen to the views of residents before drawing up revised plans for the town centre. As the heading suggests, constant vigilance will be required…
Callaghans quit as a councillor for the Pitsea North West ward, forcing a by-election. With his over-inflated ego battered and bruised after being ousted as the leader of the council and reduced to being just another ward councillor, this is probably the least surprising bit of news anyone in Basildon has ever heard. It has been suggested there are other reasons for his quitting but being somewhat adverse to being done for libel, we won’t repeat them here!
As for the Tories now running the show, an eye needs to be kept on the balance of attention and spending north and south of the A127 a.k.a. ‘the great divide’. There’s no point in getting rid of a chancer like Callaghan only for the Billericay Tory Mafia to make a return! Again, constant vigilance is required…
There is power in a union:)
Thurrock Council in their supreme arrogance thought they could impose cuts in pay and worse working conditions on their bin workers. This was first mooted in the autumn of last year. The dispute simmered on until the spring when the bin workers voted overwhelmingly to take strike action.
The council were banking on resentment from residents not having their bins collected to undermine the strike. Instead, the strike received a considerable amount of public support despite the growing inconvenience to them, and eventually, the council were forced to back down.
This is what Justice For Refuse Workers & Cleansers – https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForRefuseWorkersAndCleansers – had to say on their Facebook page as the strike ended:
This morning after positive negotiations with the council we have voted to suspend our strike action as a written deal was produced. We have accepted this in good faith and thank those who were involved in it. As such we will return to work on Monday and will be working as quick as possible to clear the borough. (Provided this deal is finalised)
From the outset all that we wanted was our existing terms and conditions and pay. This wasn’t about a payrise but about the basic idea that those on the lower end of the scale who worked throughout the pandemic would not be made worse off.
The support that we have had from the residents has been amazing and we want to thank you all; everyone who took a poster, gave out leaflets or visited the picket line. We stick up for our own in Thurrock.
For any other group of workers being screwed over by their employer, let this be an inspiration – there is indeed, power in a union!
Calling truth to power plus some agitation…that’s us:)
Whether it’s dysfunctional councils, greedy developers or arrogant government agencies such as Highways England, we want to not just hold them to account, we also want to inspire and support residents and workers to fight back against them. It can be done. The emergence of the Basildon Community Residents Party is one example of this. Another is the solidarity shown by Justice For Refuse Workers & Cleansers towards striking bin workers in Thurrock.
Despite the massive dislocation from the coronavirus crisis, the lockdowns and tiered restrictions we’ve been subjected to, people haven’t let that divert them from fighting back. Whether it’s the Basildon town centre ‘disasterplan’, Thurrock Council’s arrogance in taking on the bin workers or Highways England blindly pursuing the deeply flawed Lower Thames Crossing project, people are not taking it lying down. Long may that continue.
In whatever way we can, we intend to carry on backing residents as they call truth to power. We also intend to carry on agitating to fire up more people to join the fightback. That ranges from talking to people face to face, getting back to handing out printed papers like this, carrying on with the blog through to some strategic postering and stickering. If you want to come along for the ride, feel free to contact us using the e-mail below:)
Where we are on the Net
The Thurrock and Basildon Heckler: https://thurrockbasildonheckler.org/
Estuary Stirrings: https://essexstirrer.wordpress.com/
South Essex Radical Media – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/southessexradicalmedia
South Essex Radical Media – Twitter: https://twitter.com/SthEssRadMed
Alternative Estuary – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alternativeestuary