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.