Austerity 2.0

Back in the spring, we wrote this post about the questionable ‘investment’ strategy that Thurrock Council were implementing: Thurrock Council giving themselves more road to kick the can down – April 17, 2021. Come the summer, we wrote this post about how the poor performance of the investments was leading to some serious discussions about job and service cuts in a bid to make up the shortfall: Thurrock Council – the axe will be falling – July 1, 2021. Well, in one of the least surprising pieces of news we’ve heard in a long while, it really does look as though the axe will be falling: Hundreds in fear of losing jobs after council finance chief confirms budget cutbacks – but leader suggests political assistants should be appointed at £50K a time! – 16.11.21.

The scale of the job cuts is such that it they will hit those who deliver the services we rely upon. That means service cuts of some kind are pretty much inevitable. The warning about job cuts was delivered by Sean Clark (Corporate director of resources and place delivery). Clark, as you may be aware, was the architect of Thurrock Council’s troubled ‘borrow to invest’ strategy, the poor performance of which has led us to the point where job and service cuts are going to be a reality. As things stand at the moment, Clark’s £130,000 a year salary and job seem unlikely to become one of the casualties of what to all intents and purposes, is going to be an austerity drive. Given the arrogance shown by senior officers at the council in the past, this does not surprise us in the least.

Then there’s this… At next month’s full meeting of the council, the leader, Cllr. Rob Gledhill (Con) will propose the employment of ‘political assistants’ to support the Conservative and Labour groups. These assistants would be getting paid up to £40,000 a year. We don’t always see eye to eye with the leader of the Labour group on the council, Cllr. John Kent, but this comment from him about the proposal is pretty much spot on: “Whatever and whenever the origins of this idea were, now is not the time to implement it and I will be asking Labour members of the council to oppose this inappropriate suggestion at a time when people who work for the council in roles that really matter on the front line of services face losing their jobs.” We’d like to add that this self serving idea shows how far Thurrock Council have drifted from their duty to serve the residents of the borough.

What can you say FFS?! We have a senior officer who, despite being the architect of a failing investment strategy, looks set to keep his post. We have a leader of the ruling group who, at a time of cuts to front line services, is proposing the appointment of ‘political assistants’. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up if you tried! Look, we don’t like getting personal but, both Clark and Gledhill have well and truly put themselves in the frame for this: PLONKER(S) OF THE YEAR – a provisional shortlist:) – November 2, 2021.

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