Thurrock Council have been having issues with their Civic Offices in Grays since a flood in the early part of September screwed the electrics in part of the building. This has resulted in council meetings being relocated, delayed and postponed. The issues are ongoing with no resolution in sight.
On Wednesday October 13, a meeting of the ruling Tory cabinet that was to have taken place in the Beehive Community Resource Centre had to be cancelled at very short short notice. The reason being that the meeting had not been convened in accordance with local government guidelines and was taking place in a venue not notified to members of the public who had the right to attend. Any decisions reached at that meeting would not have been legal and would have been open to challenge or dispute. This is how it was covered by Thurrock Nub News: Latest council blunder and another botched meeting leaves officers red-faced.
It doesn’t end there…there’s worse to come! A double header council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 27 has been scrapped. The scheduled meeting was a double header to accommodate the agenda for the September meeting. This meeting has now been moved back to some time in November where again, it will be a double header in an attempt to try and catch up with the business that needs to be discussed. However, it transpires that the agenda for October has effectively been scrapped. This is how this debacle has been covered by Thurrock Nub News: Now blunder-stuck council calls off its major meetings, promoting angry blast from councillor who describes authority as a shambles.
Council officers have reportedly told frustrated councillors that they cannot find a suitable replacement venue for council meetings. Really? This is from the same council that has told supporters of the Thameside Theatre that should it close, there are plenty of other suitable venues that can host drama, dance and other entertainment events that are currently held at the theatre. So, there are plenty of suitable alternative venues for arts performances but not for council meetings? Really? Do they seriously expect the public of Thurrock to swallow this bullshit?
Cllr. Gary Byrne (Thurrock Independents) who thankfully, has long been a thorn in the side of an inept Thurrock Council said: “This is a slap in the face for democracy and transparency and yet another embarrassment for a shambolic council. I don’t believe it’s about venue, it’s about the council’s IT and communications departments not having the project management skills to organise such a event. This is an appalling situation. Democracy needs to be seen to be happening and councillors should have the right to ask questions and be seen to be doing their job to represent the people who elect them. I rarely get answers to written questions or responses to emails. Telephone calls are unanswered or messages ignored. At the moment in Thurrock it’s impossible to the job of being a councillor. There are too many obstacles being put in our way by people who do not want to held to account.”
Just when we think Thurrock Council couldn’t sink any further into a mire of ineptitude aligned with arrogance and a lack of transparency, they always mange to do so. Council meetings where the public can attend are one way the council can be scrutinised and held to account. That’s not been happening in any meaningful way for a while now. It has reached the point where to be brutally honest, we don’t have properly functioning local democracy in Thurrock. The situation is totally unacceptable…