49 Thurrock Councillors: A Luxury We Cannot Afford?

AS WE were walking into the Chafford Hundred Primary School Fete, a parent asked us what we knew about the cuts. Naturally, we said that for a start, the Chafford Hundred Library may be going and we then outlined a number of other things that may well face the chop. The parents first reaction was: “Cut everything but they won’t be cutting the councillor’s allowances or even the number of them.”

Fair question: At the bottom of the page is an article we wrote during the elections, three months ago.

So, while we are at the Fete we spoke councillors’ Tunde Ojetola and Martin Healy for their view on whether in the present climate, 49 councillors are simply a luxury, we cannot afford.

We will cut to the chase here. We get the feeling that if Sir John Harvey-Jones or Duncan Bannatyne were to cast their experienced and entreprenurial eye over the Thurrock Council chamber and it’s 49 inhabitants they may come to the same conclusion that we have, having observed matters day in and day out for the last four years.

We could imagine Duncan shadowing them for a week or so and then calling them together at a specially convened meeting in the chamber.

He would then go ward by ward. The three (and sometimes two) ward councillors would come forward and he would say.
“Councillor A…I like what you are doing. You work hard etc etc…I tell you where I am with you…I am going to recommend a £3 grand bonus for you. He would then call the other two forward and say “Catch ya…………”
So it would go on ward by ward. When left with 20 councillors, he would turn to the Interim Chief Exec and say.
“Right…here is how it goes..I have now saved you £200,000. Here is £20k for the Tilbury ferry, here is £30k for Ngage, here is £40k for three PCSO’s etc
“Now Bob, go and shout that to the rooftops or even better, advertise on that cutting edge website in toon.

The councillors who had just been “fired” would plead but Duncan would say.

“I’m sorry but this company is simply massively overstaffed and you have not made a credible business case for yourselves. It has been nice work while you have had it.
“In any case, these aren’t supposed to be jobs.”

Half of the tongue is in the cheek and the other half…well. There is a hurricane coming for the public sector and the word “efficiency savings” will be used ad nauseum. Perhaps they should lead by example (yes we know it would take Secretary of State approval).

Do you think we will hear that call. Turkeys for christmas come to mind….but for the life of us we have no idea why there is a need for so many councillors in Thurrock and what is more pertinent time and time again, through absenteeism in council, lack of surgeries, lack of comment, lack of profile, you have made the argument for the prosecution yourself.

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