Barry Johnson: Taking Care of Business

THERE has been a significant sea change in the handling of the council’s finances since Ockendon councillor Barry Johnson came on board as Portfolio Holder for Finance.

With vast experience in the city and a keen desire to take the council up to a 4 star rating, Barry has worked well with the Finance team to develop not only a workable budget but also a medium term strategy all the way up to 2015.

On these matters, the council need to be given time. New senior officers came to the council less than a year ago and were, by all accounts, shocked at the out-dated practices that had created a fiscal inertia within the civic offices.

We interviewed Barry at the launch of the new Thurrock Busness Network Group at the Thurrock Learning Shop where he was representing the council.

The message from small businesses to Barry and leader Garry Hague was clear. Small business after small business slammed the council for a lack of understanding of their needs.

One businessman, who did not wish to be named, said: “Garry Hague just agrees with the last person he spoke to. A couple of catch phrases and he is off. That doesn’t inspire confidence.”

With Barry’s long term plans, it looks like a road map out of recession and a firm fiscal strategy may keep the council out of financial crisis. With only £3 million in reserves, every taxpayer and voter hopes so.

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