Thursday, September 28, 2023

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being cheated………..?

Editorial Comment

SO said Johnny Rotten as he sat down on his haunches at the end of the last Sex Pistol concert in the Winterland ballrooms in San Francisco in 1978. Johnny had perfected a Richard 111 type walk and sure as damn it he was saying that something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

There was a similar feeling in the public gallery at the meeting of the planning committee last night, leading to members of the public being ejected.

These were unsavoury scenes but then again the whole controversy over the unauthorised lorry park in Oliver Road, West Thurrock has done Thurrock no credit at all.

Indeed some say it makes Thurrock look like some banana unitarian borough where things are done differently.

Chief executive Graham Farrant and council leader John Kent may counter such criticisms by using the “That was then; this is now” defence and may claim that they are steering the council out of choppy waters. Sometimes the raft is going to hit swirls and eddys (no not that eddy) but will at some stage, will hit clear and calm blue water.

This will now be the challenge. Is this a situation that needs management or leadership? Because there is clear blue water and lots of it, just before Niagara.

Sometimes you have to go back to a question as Jeremy Paxman did all those years ago with Michael Howard when he asked him “Did you threaten to over-rule him” twelve times in a row. So it is with certain comments and assertions made in the Collison Report.

1. “An absence of adequate explanation of decisions inevitably raises questions about the motives of those councillors.

2.”Where Committee decisions are made contrary to officer recommendations which are based on policy, and those decisions are made without adequate explanation, interested observers may conclude that some councillors are working to alternative unstated agendas.

3.”It is essential that councillors adopt practices that leave them above suspicion of receiving inappropriate influence.”

These shadows hang over the council and the councillors for a variety of reasons. You can manage all you like. These are serious allegations. Nobody goes into court and says: “I am going to manage the charges against me or my organisation”. Depending on what side of the fence you prove or disprove, beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you don’t, you leave a nagging doubt. A nagging doubt that may be enough for other businesses, keen to invest in the borough to say: “Maybe somewhere else”

Perhaps that may be why John Lewis’ pulled out of the Lakeside development and looked north towards Chelmsford. The perception may be that while Chelmsford aims for city status, Thurrock can’t even get a lorry park right.

Because, like it or not, all this comes down to politics and economics. From an economic perspective, the lorry park saga continues to rumble on. It has done now for five years and may well for another five years and beyond.

From a political perspective it has, according to some made the Thurrock Conservative Group, the untouchables and not in an Elliott Ness way.

The council could do without this in the month that the Local Development Framework is being examined. We are sure they could manage it but what Thurrock may needs is for it to be led.

As for Johnny Rotten. He reverted back to John Lydon, moved to LA and got into property. As he said: “I could be wrong, I could be………..right.”


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