Monday, March 20, 2023

The cleaner & greener debate

Charles Key Reports

Thurrock Council’s Cleaner, Greener & Safer Overview and Scrutiny committee refused to support £15,000 cuts to the Grays Beach Cafe and Office after a member of staff at the park outlined her grievances before the committee on Tuesday. Shirley Acres, who has seen her post of Assistant Duty Manager at Grays Beach Riverside Park ‘deleted’, asked the committee how the cook will cover for the duty manager without any previous training.

Deputy Leader Councillor Morris-Cook, invited by the committee to attend to argue the case for the spending proposals, was quick to respond to Mrs Acres’ brief speech and the committee’s questioning. She said, “Shirley is a credit to Grays Beach and to Thurrock Council, it is with a heavy-heart that we have to lose a member of staff, particularly Shirley.” Later on in the debate Councillor Morris-Cook stated “there simply is not the work for three members of staff.”

Tory representatives on the committee were particularly opposed to losing staff at Thurrock’s flagship activity park. After reviewing the base budget for Grays Beach, Councillor Pauline Tolson was supported by the committee in saying, “simply, Grays Beach should be making more money than this.” Councillor Steve Veryard also went on to say that he would “rather see two members of staff become part-time rather than lose a member of staff completely.” Councillor Mike Revell went on to say “as Grays Beach is a seasonal attraction, it would be easier to make a decision had we seen income and expenditure figures at different points in the year.”

Speaking after the committee, Councillor Morris-Cook told YourThurrock that “no decisions to lose staff were made lightly, but it is with a particularly heavy-heart that cuts are to be made at Grays Beach.”

A number of proposed spending cuts were scrutinised at the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny meeting, whilst the cuts to Grays Beach were the only proposed cuts of a total of seventeen that were not supported by the committee. A number of the other cuts that were scrutinised at the meetings also potentially involved staff redundancies, but were approved by the committee.

The committee also discussed the decision to cease to match the funding that Essex Police provide for PCSO’s in the borough. Despite concerns expressed from the committee members as to whether Essex Police will maintain their share of the PCSO funding, the proposal was approved after Andrew Murphy (Head of Environment) informed the committee that a number of other councils do not match funding as it is discretionary.

Other proposals that were also heavily scrutinised were reductions in residual waste collection, charging residents for replacement bins and the suspension of the St Clements Civic Amenity site operation.


  1. my heart goes out to Shirley as she puts her heart and soul into her job at the beach and this is the second time she has lost her position there.
    The previous administration made decisions affecting the beach which meant the manager having to cover both the beach as well as all the public events ect all over the borough (sorry i can’t remeber the job title he had )and eventually they had to recrute a manager to cover when all they had to do is keep Shirley and her valuable experience and knowledge and ideas would have turned the beach park around and make it more profitable and more used during the quieter times.
    The beach park ,though bein titled the jewel in the crown,was never given the chance to shine through being controlled by officers in the civic offices and good ideas from the staff were allways knocked back and any money made (and i fully appreciate it wasn’t a money making machine for the council) had to go to the council central pot and not used fo the benefit of the beach park.
    I have been out of the picture for a couple of years now so i can’t comment on how it’s going now ,however i can say that it has been under resourced fo years and i hope that some way can be found to keep Shirley on and use her valuable knowledge and experience.

  2. In the meeting that Shirley attended at Civic Offices, I understand that a question was raised asking Andrew Murphy, “If the Manager was on holiday, or sick, who would stand in her position to manage Grays Beach?” I believe the reply that followed this question was, “A manager from Curzon, and the cook.” However, surely the question should be looked at in a little more deph and with a little more perspective, as to who will cover the cook when she is ill, or off on holiday now that Shirley has left?

    Over the past 10 years of Shirleys time at Grays Beach she has contributed nothing but great ideas and enthusiasm towards her job, from events such as T-Fest (A great success), to summer shows and competitions (Again, a great success). Now that Shirley has gone, it’s only a matter of time now before the place falls apart, and even if i’m wrong and the beach remains, it will never be the same. I think I speak on behalf of the majority of customers and staff at Grays Beach when I say, it’s a ‘real shame’.

  3. well said Sharon i couldn’t agree more with your sentiments about Shirley and this is the second time they have done this to her.
    Your coment about the question “what if the manager is off ?” sums up what the officers attitude has allways been about the beach park and they don’t seem to understand what amount of effort goes into making it work .


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