Saturday, September 30, 2023

More power to councillors……(or those who can answer their e-mails)

IT HAS been a productive few months for Thurrock’s chief executive, Graham Farrant and in particular his walking shoes, as week in, week out, he has travelled from ward to ward, walking the streets and finding out what are the issues and challenges from a street level view.

Sources state that he has been impressed with many councillors, who clearly know their ward and the people who live therein. However, sources also suggest that there Mr Farrant has also been exasperated with many councillors whom, we understand, despite repeated requests, haven’t even replied to e-mails!

This makes the announcement at Wednesday’s Cabinet that many of these same councillors may be given “devolved powers”, in some people’s eyes, a bold proposal.

Presenting the report on Wednesday, Tilbury councillor Steve Liddiard said: “Budgets would need to be delivered either to individual councillors or to ward level.

The cross-party report echoed the “Big Society” rhetoric with references to volunteers running libraries as well as clearing snow from streets.

The report also continued what many describe as “officer-bashing” as it suggested: “Senior managers should be encouraged to take a more visible role in communities and officers should aim to help residents solve the issues as presented as challenges.”

The Labour cabinet were quick to score some easy political points. Deputy Leader Val Morris-Cook said: “We had four local assemblies up to 2004 which worked very well. They were soon abolished when the Conservatives took over.

“I welcome this report and many of the key changes and improvements it recommends. There are concrete proposals such as delivering services to the jobless and smarter ways of working with other agencies such as the NHS and the police, that are excellent.”

Cabinet agreed to the proposal.


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