IF there was ever a symbol for our times as to why the Audit Commission have published such a damning report, then you would do well to watch the three-part film of this public meeting.
Over 150 Corringham shopkeepers and residents packed into the Corringham Village Hall to grill a number of Thurrock Councillors over the decision last Wednesday (Feb 25th) to recommend a budget that included the possible imposition of car parking charges in Corringham Town Centre.
Cllrs Eddie Hardiman, Danny Nicklen, Anne Cheale and Neil Rockcliffe (Cons) voted to recommend the budget and attached possible charges.
Cllrs Roisin Hewitt and Phil Smith (Lab) voted against.
The meeting, as you can see from the three-part film, became very heated at times. A bitter war of words broke out between Cllr Cheale and meeting organiser Sharon Jarrold while one businessman walked to within feet of Cllr Nicklen to try and get him to change his mind.
Cllrs Hardiman, Nicklen and Cheale, in a dramatic about-turn told the audience that they would be going back to see their Leader (Cllr Terry Hipsey) to recommend that no charges be imposed.
Many people recoiled in horror when former a Tory Council Leader screams like a banshee at a member of the public (Part 2).
Others have been astonished how the ruling Conservative group have once again sleep-walked into a public relations disaster.
Prospective parliamentary candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock, Stephen Metcalfe was present and looked deeply embarrassed. He could well see the sight of Westminster victory dissolve as the Tories have single-handedly given Angela Smith the initiative and moral high-ground.
The Facebook site has an astonishing 1000 members in just two days. Action is planned for this weekend. Watch this space.
It was not a great day for democracy. In a poorly-chaired meeting, the public lost what little faith they had in local government.
This is a very difficult budget in very difficult circumstances. With such a budget there needed to be a well thought-out strategy as to what to do in certain eventualities.
The Tories were very good at putting on a united front on the day of the Council meeting and for all their internal plots and strifes, that ability clearly concerns the Labour group.
Indeed the two Corringham Labour Councillors appeared hopelessly out of touch (It was painfully apparent that the audience had no idea who they were) and it was a former Councillor Gordon Gambier who made the more salient points
This should have been picked up long ago.
However Roisin Hewitt did make the point about the Council not having a recession package and that needs to be looked into further.
The accusation made by some is that the public sector is displaying a shocking degree of complacency towards those in the private sector who are suffering in the recession.
Portfolio Holder, Neil Rockcliffe played a pretty straight bat and came out with credibility. ‘Nice Guy’ Eddie Hardiman wants to do the right thing but is finding the conflict between conscience and party whip is undermining him. A former Lib Dem, he is not in his natural home as illustrated by U-turns on Chadwell St Mary Primary, the Burma Star and now Corringham.
This people-power thing must be becoming a damned nuisance to the Council. Chafford Hundred School, Chadwell St Mary Primary and now Corringham Traders.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if all those affected by the proposed budget savings decided to launch a campaign group!