Sunday Comment: The London borough of Thames Gateway?
Date posted: 21-10-2012
TOWARDS the end of a health and well-being committee meeting last week, an item emerged that involved debate on matters in Barking and Dagenham. The deputy chair of the committee, cllr Mark Coxshall (Cons) questioned why, in a Thurrock committee, they were debating such matters. A Labour councillor agreed.
The matter revealed how watchful/concerned the Thurrock Conservatives are on the “shared services” agreement between Thurrock and Barking and Dagenham councils.
The Tories clearly smell a rat and question why Thurrock has not gone to share services with, say, Basildon or Havering? For them, the fact that both Basildon and Havering are Tory controlled, plays some part. At the moment, Thurrock Labour have an overall majority of 1. In the London borough of Thames Gateway, it could be 21.
The fact that there is no geographical connection is also a fair point. Some may point to Alaska or Kalingrad.
The comment comes in the week that those keen observers of senior council officers have noted them scurrying from room to room with large documents. These may be the same officers who are finding themselves driving up and down the A13 quite a lot.
But with regeneration comes the debate of perestroika or restructuring.
Students of history will look at how states changed to adapt or to protect or to enhance political and or economic circumstances. Whether it was Germany in the early 19th century or the United States of America.
Worst case or best case students can also envisage that Thurrock will end up with an Estuary Airport and another bridge crossing as part of the necessary transport structure to compliment the largest deep water port in the world at DP World in Stanford-le-Hope.
Economists argue that Thurrock needs as many economic allies as possible: whether that be as a member of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership or as part of joint initiatives such as the £20 million worth of funding gained by Thurrock and the Thames Gateway Kent partnership.
Economists will also point out to the amount of savings boroughs such as Thurrock and Barking have to make.
In the end there may not be a change in the unitary status of the borough and it will all be a series of treaties and pacts that can enhance Thurrock’s position on the stage both locally, regionally and nationally.
The Tories may smell a rat but it could be that they are looking at the mouse that roared?