Thurrock Council dodging the debate

The Thameside Complex in Grays
Protesters outside the council offices on Wednesday 21 June

At the end of June, we put up this post about the likely closure of the Thameside Complex in Grays by a cash strapped Thurrock Council: And so it begins… On Wednesday June 21 before a full meeting of the council, there was a protest by the Save the Thameside Complex campaign outside the council offices against the threatened closure. At that protest, a paper petition with around 100 signatures and links to an online petition hosted on the platform were passed over to the council. Thurrock Council have turned round to the campaigners to inform them that the petition is being disregarded because it does not fulfil their criteria: Council rejects thousands of names on petition calling for debate in bid to save the Thameside Theatre. Councillors are described as ‘cowards’.

Undaunted, the Save the Thameside Complex campaign will be taking to the streets of Thurrock to obtain signatures on a new petition. Thurrock Nub News have asked the council, its Conservative leader Cllr. Rob Gledhill and the portfolio holder with responsibility for the arts, Cllr. Deb Huelin, to comment on the rejection of the petition. At the time of writing, there has been no response to this request.

This is what Cllr. Deb Huelin had to say at the end of June: “Over the course of the next six to nine months we will work with production companies, local groups, and existing borough wide facilities including much valued community halls to promote arts and culture in venues across Thurrock and support the development of new cultural productions and events.”

We appear to have gone from this invitation to some kind of a dialogue to the council rejecting a petition calling for the Thameside Complex to be saved. What sort of dialogue do the council want? A full, open and frank one? Or one where they call the shots and steer the direction of the discussion to the conclusion they want? It would very much appear to be the latter. Which is pretty much par for the course for a council that doesn’t seem to be able or willing to grasp the concepts of transparency and accountability.

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