In a bitter bitter evening in the final Thurrock Council Meeting before the summer recess. the ruling Tories and Labour opposition locked horns on a number of issues.
From one angle it was a healthy example of rigorous debate and democracy, where many councillors got on their feet on a number of controversial topics.
Grays Councillor Yash Gupta slammed the recently published report on the progress made by the council since the damning “Direction of Travel” report by the Audit Commisssion in March which placed the Council in the bottom six in the country.
Cllr Gupta called the report “vague”. He said: “I cannot see any long term vision. Reading this I am not confident that you really have learned any lessons.”
“This report lacks teeth and it lacks delivery. What on earth will the public make of this?”
Leader of the Labour Group, John Kent went further. He said: “The responsibility for the Council improving should involve all 49 councillors. After eight months we (Labour) have received very little information and are hardly involved.”
“I am also deeply disturbed by some of the language used in this public document. The term “officer-bashing” is used. This is not professional.”
Former Tory Leader and now Labour convert also slammed the report. He said: “This is the assassination of democracy. Unelected officers are making the vast majority of the decisions. It also refers to the Interim Chief Executive as the Chief Executive. When was that appointment made?
Council Leader Garry Hague robustly defended the Labour attacks.
He said: “It beggars belief that Labour talk about communication. Many months ago, I came home from a Group Meeting and e-mailed every Labour Councillor. In that e-mail I asked them for three “wishes” or top priorities as to how to improve the council. I only received three replies.”
“You also have very short memories as to the state the council was in when we took over. We have an excellent education system and the Adult Social Care Department has just been lauded from Westminster.”