Labour leader slams Tory attempt to “re-write history”
Date posted: 29-10-2012
THE LABOUR leader of Thurrock Council has slammed the Conservative groups attempts to ‘re-write history”.
Speaking after Wednesday evening’s Full Council meeting John Kent said:
“What we saw this evening was a breathtaking attempt from Thurrock Conservatives to re write history.
“First we had Cllr Rob Gledhill criticising the Council for the way we collect Council Tax. I have to remind Cllr Gledhill that, when he was a Cabinet member, Thurrock Council had the third worst Council tax collection rate in the country.
“We are now one of the best performing councils anywhere when it comes to collecting the Council Tax. If we had carried on at the Conservatives collection rate we would have lost £1.5m – equal to almost 3% on every single Council Tax bill.
“We then had Cllr Shane Hebb attempting to suggest that under the Conservatives Thurrock Council provided fantastic value for money!
“I know Cllr Hebb is relatively newly elected so may not be aware of the facts, but under the Tories Council Tax bills rocketed by over 20% at the same time they spent more than £1.8m on staff pay offs.
“In their last year in control they overspent the council budgets by over £4m and reduced the council’s reserves from £8m to less than £2m and were just four months away from going broke.
“By contrast under this Labour administration Council Tax has gone down, we have changed the rules so a cross-party committee of councillors has to agree any – so called – compromise agreements, delivered balanced budgets and restored the council’s cash reserves back to at least £8m.
“The independent Audit Commission has also issued an unqualified audit opinion on both the council’s “Value for Money Assessment” and on the financial accounts for last year – something Cllr Hebb’s and Cllr Gledhill’s Conservatives didn’t manage once in the six years they were running the council.
“I am the first to admit that we are still far from perfect but I know we are getting there and that’s despite all the hurdles being put in our way by the coalition.
“By any reckoning, Thurrock Council is in a far better place now and it has a positive and exciting future.
“There are issues, but we know what they are and we are dealing with them – something, sadly, it seems our short-sighted opposition cannot deal with or accept.”