What an utter farce…

This is the previous blog post we wrote: The report into January’s flooding across Thurrock has finally arrived… The report was supposed to have been discussed at the council’s planning, transportation and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday 6 July. Well, that discussion never happened and here’s why: Officers’ ‘no show’ and technical gaffes mean vital flooding questions remain unanswered. Committee chair tells of his ‘particular disappointment’ at decision by officers to stay at home!

The meeting was held at the Thameside Theatre. The elected councillors who had to attend the meeting were there in person. The officers who were supposed to present the report opted to do so via a video link from the comfort of their own homes. This is despite the lifting of a number Covid19 restrictions which would have allowed the officers to appear in person. In the news report linked to above, there’s an image of the chamber where the meeting was held and from what we saw, there was plenty of room for officers to sit and physically distance from others if they wished to do so. Over-relying on technology for your communications can trip you up and that’s what happened last Tuesday when the TV screens in the meeting chamber failed to work!

The next scheduled meeting of the planning, transportation and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee where the flooding report can be discussed is set for October. For residents whose homes were flooded and those of us who experienced a near miss from the flooding, that’s too long to wait. From what we can understand, the recommendations in the report can’t start to be fully implemented until they have been discussed in depth. Granted some of what has been recommended is long term stuff but there are some proposals which if given the go ahead, can be implemented in the short term in time for next winter. The chair of the committee, Cllr. Alex Anderson, was less than pleased by the failure of the officers to attend in person. He’s looking at holding an extraordinary meeting before October in a bid to get things moving. For the sake of everyone affected by the flooding, we sincerely hope this can happen…

There’s a pattern emerging of leading council officers not turning up in person to important meetings. The chief executive, Lyn Carpenter didn’t turn up for the general services committee meeting that was held on Monday 5 July. In fact she didn’t even bother to appear via a video link FFS! Regular readers of this blog may well have noted that we keep banging on about unelected and unaccountable leading council officers. We do it because we feel we have an obligation to let the residents of Thurrock know that the officers we pay for out of our council tax are letting us down.

Yet again, this is an example of how the system of local governance we have to put up with is simply not fit for purpose. Commentators wonder why the turnout for local elections is so low. That’s because most people are savvy enough to recognise that it’s the unelected and unaccountable leading officers at the council who hold the real power. We can’t vote these f**kers out. At the very least, the elected councillors need to be putting some serious pressure on these officers to be fully accountable to them and to the residents they’re supposed to be serving. Suffice to say, our patience with his has pretty much run out…

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