Accountability? Transparency?

At the full meeting of Thurrock Council on Wednesday 24.11, a question was raised about the council’s communications strategy being approved by the leader, Cllr. Rob Gledhill, without debate or public discussion. This is how this latest debacle has been covered by Thurrock Nub News: The pantomime of politics – what has happened to truth and transparency? There’s a lot of detail in this piece and rather than us paraphrasing it, we recommend that you read it in full.

It should be noted that Thurrock Nub News and in particular, their editor Neil Speight, have skin in the game on this one. This is because they understand that the role of local journalism is to hold councils to account and as many people are aware, Thurrock Council do not like that one bit!

If you type in either ‘Thurrock Council accountability’ or ‘Thurrock Council transparency’ in the search box on this blog, you will come up with loads of posts with our views on the issue. With the majority of posts we write about the council, at some point we’re having to question their attitude towards accountability and transparency. Quite often, we ask if they actually understand the meaning of these terms!

There are so many examples of Thurrock Council failing to be open and honest with local news outlets and us residents. Here are just a few examples:

  • A complete lack of communication to residents in the east of the borough as to why the A13 widening project is delayed and over budget: Asking for a community… – November 24, 2021.
  • Evasiveness and refusals when it comes to engaging with campaigners fighting to save the Thameside complex in Grays from closure: Facing the music…from a distance! – November 24, 2021.

There are many, many more examples of Thurrock Council failing to adequately communicate with local journalists and residents. The council cannot grasp the simple concept that their role is to serve the residents of the borough who pay their expenses through council and income taxes. It’s hard to escape the impression that they think they rule over us and as such, can do and say pretty much what they like. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s not just Thurrock Council who struggle with concepts such as accountability and transparency – many other local authorities struggle as well.

How many times do we have the state this? Local governance is not fit for purpose. Radical change has to happen and it has to be the kind of change that brings power and decision making right down to the grassroots.

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