Full Council: A Confederacy Of Dunces

Editorial Comment

By Michael Casey

BLESS ME father, it has now been four years and one week that I have been attending Thurrock Council meetings. Last night’s meeting was the most incoherent, directionless, unprofessional, self-satisfied that I have witnessed.

It is clear that many of the Labour Portfolio Holders simply do not know their briefs. It was clear in July and it is even more embarassingly apparent now. Question after question from the Tories are followed by: “Erm, I’ll get back to you”. Not for £20k a year you don’t, not in the public arena you don’t.

What is interesting is that Leader of the Council, John Kent cut something of a peripheral figure. Perhaps John understands that his once a month meeting is a fop to democracy. Let Gerard Rice slag off hard working police officers; let Yash Gupta look totally lost answering a perfectly reasonable question on incentives to use other forms of transport; let Lyn Worall take everything too personally.

What was also mystifying was the total total absence of debate at the meeting. The seismic decision to “absorb’ the Development Corporation went without one word. What debate occurred was faltering, mis-informed, directionless and frankly lamentable.

Last week, many council employees had letters arrive through the post or on their desk letting them know that there job is at risk. It is at such time that you would have thought that group leaders would have gathered the troops around and said: “We really really need to raise our game and give the public absolute value for money.”

But what appears to be the case is that there is an institutional malaise that fails to recognise this. Not one councillor attended the VJ commemorations at Purfleet recently, Val Morris-Cooks appeal for councillors to support the arts fell on deaf ears.

It is clear that the majority are simply out of their depth. Good people (mostly) but have it neither in their DNA nor the will-power to raise the game to face the challenges that the horrendous cuts will produce. They just about cut it in the good times but last night proved that (as a group and with some noted individuals exempt) way way out of their depth.

My advice is that Thurrock councilors need to move to Harlow. Two newspapers have closed down in the last year and the one left does not attend council meetings due to an overtime ban. Instead, the paper rings the respective leaders up on a Thursday and asks; “What happened last night”. To which leader spins and they publish.

Finally, I want to re-iterate that this would not be written in the good times and in many ways, this is written on behalf of the people who face redundancy, face having their house repossessed, face the bailiffs letter, face losing everything they worked for for twenty years.

Rotten borough? A bit harsh. A Parish Council punching above its weight? Perhaps. Worth £500,000 a year of your money. You decide?

5 Responses to "Full Council: A Confederacy Of Dunces"

  1. Lambo   September 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Why does the contents of this article not suprise me, during labours last term in office they were totally inept at making decisions and screwed the local people to the tune of millions, did people honestly think that when Labour hijacked TBC from the Tories that they would be any different??

    Are they worth £500,000 a year of our money, do you realy expect anyone with a modicum of sence to agree that they are!!!

    As for these portfolio holders who seem to be just going through the motions and have no idea what they are doing, should they now be removed from office as they sure as hell can’t do the job that they are doing, maybe they could be accused as taking money under false pretenses.

    TBC are a laughing stock and this continues to be so under the new leadership, Cllr Kent may talk the talk but he has so far failed to walk the walk and has appointed people to positions that they no nothing about, maybe it was jobs for the boys when Cllr Kent over threw the last leadership….

  2. smithereen   September 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    As I was writing my last post I was wondering why our elected officials get so wrapped up in petty party politics, and then I have to read a post like the one above. The obvious response being, and everything was going so well under Gerry Hague’s leadership… I mean the fact that we now have three Independent conservatives is nothing that would concern a sensible soul now would it?

  3. Purfleet on Thames   September 16, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Having sat through Wednesday nights Full Council in the public gallery, I now have a better understanding as to why next week’s Let’s Talk event is being held in a place of worship God knows the leader needs all the help he can get. I’m remembering the video clip here on Your Thurrock declaring to all thurrock residents that John Kent had every confidence in his cabinet and them knowing their portfolio’s inside out…. didn’t appear that way on the night.

    One portfolio holder had to be reminded 3 times by the Mayor that they were over running on their alotted time, to which they gave no regard and continued to pontificate. A total lack of preparation and self-discipline, let’s see if they manage their buget the same way? Rather than Let’s Talk, perhaps a sounder piece of advice to his cabinet maybe, wise men keep their counsel, fools claim their follie.

  4. Peter Perrin   September 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Re article “Why was lorry plan refused”? Thurrock Gazette Friday September 10th 2010 edition.

    I was at the planning Committee meeting on Monday 6th September 2010 in support of the petition signed by 347 residents whose lives are blighted by the daily traffic of Heavy Goods Vehicles [HGVs] using Stifford Road and passing through other residential areas.

    Despite the benefits to the residents of Stifford Road and adjacent areas as a result of moving the current entrance to the Howard Tennens site to the proposed entrance nearer the Aveley roundabout along with a promise to improve the area known as “Hangman’s Wood” Thurrock Borough Council [TBC} opposed it on the grounds that it was an encroachment onto “Green Belt” land. Belhus Ward Councillor Charles Curtis read out a statement on behalf of TBC stating the Council’s case giving no regard to the resident’s petition and the adverse impact the HGVs were causing to the environment in which they lived. I went out campaigning with Deidre Lodge along with her husband Simon and in a relatively short time we obtained 347 signatures from residents giving their unqualified support to the Howard Tennens proposals regarding the moving of the entrance and the improvements to “Hangman’s Wood”. At no time did your elected Belhus Ward Councillors [Sue Gray, Charles Curtis and Wendy Curtis] campaign with us or express any support for the campaign or sympathy for the residents plight. Whilst I recognise that “Green Belt” land has to be protected and that if it is encroached upon without proper planning permission then action has to be taken against the transgressors. However there needs to be some flexibility and commonsense should prevail when it is clearly demonstrated that planning requests are fully supported by those affected i.e. residents and benefits far outweigh the loss of a relatively small area of “Green Belt” land.

    The quality of residents lives should not be sacrificed to the cause of a “squabble” between TBC and Howard Tennens over a piece of land which has been neglected for many, many years. For the Belhus Ward Councillors I have this warning if you continue to ignore the voice of the people you may well pay the price for doing so at the ballot-box.

    Mr Peter Perrin

    Broxburn Drive, South Ockendon

  5. nitewolf   November 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Give it a rest peter perrin, change the record sunbeam, for a chairperson of labour committee, you’ve got a lot of gob against your own labour party and it’s councillors! Thuurock Council were right to block that planning and ignore your petition as it stood! Green Belt is Green Belt and no one can no one should be allowed to ignore the procedure of planning rules! Moving that entrance is not going to make any significance to the amount of traffic passing those houses.
    The only thing Thurrock is doing wrong is allowing Howard Tenans to remain in business on that site!

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