Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent has announced his cabinet for the coming year.
For the first time since early 2004 there are only eight cabinet members.
At Wednesday (26 May) evening’s annual meeting of the council, Cllr Kent
Cllr Kent said the new cabinet would be: Leader, Cllr John Kent, Strategy and Finance; Deputy Leader, Cllr Val Morris-Cook, Environment; Cllr Oliver Gerrish, Education; Cllr Barbara Rice, Children’s Social Care and Health; Tony Fish, Adult Social Care; Andy Smith, Housing and Regeneration; Phil Smith, Central Services; Lynn Worrall, Community, Culture and Leisure.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Kent paid tribute to the outgoing members of the cabinet — Cllr Diana Hale, who is unwell; Cllr Gerard Rice, who will be the council’s representative on the Essex Police Authority; Cllr Charlie Curtis, who became mayor and Cllr Yash Gupta, deputy mayor.
He said: “I would like to thank each and every one of these people. They supported the administration is what was a very difficult and a very complex time following the General Election last year.
“First I would like to mention Diana who has been a tremendous support to me personally for the many years of our friendship. She faces a difficult time as she fights for her health. She’s done it successfully in the past and I’d like to assure her that we are all behind her wishing her the best for the future.
“Diana’s deep devotion to Thurrock and the people who live here is beyond question and I look forward to the time when she can play a pivotal strategic role again in the future.”
He said: “Gerard Rice has also shown long term commitment to Thurrock and the people who live here. The scale of the proposed changes to policing mean that Gerard’s role here will be crucial during the year ahead.
“Charlie Curtis and Yash Gupta — what can I say? Both have served the people of Thurrock and especially the people of Belhus and Grays with incredible fortitude and dedication for many, many years.
“I have absolutely no doubt that they will continue to serve Thurrock as a whole in their positions as first and second citizens. Thurrock is lucky to have them.”
He added: “I would also like to pay tribute to Tunde Ojetiola. He was superb as deputy mayor for the past six months or so and I again have no doubt that he too would have made a superb mayor.
“Unfortunately when a council is as tight politically as Thurrock is at the moment, politics intrudes where it perhaps should not. I feel for Tunde and I have told him so. That is why I believe we should try to find a way forward where the mayoralty is not decided on political grounds. Hopefully we will be able over the coming months to do exactly that.”