Labour only it it for the money? Tory leader slams opponents and former members

WE SUSPECT it is going to be a bumpy year. Tory leader, cllr Phil Anderson has taken a few more days to reflect on certain aspects of last Wednesday’s annual council meeting.

As many people had anticipated, the Annual Meeting of Thurrock Council on Wednesday reached deadlock, with the crucial votes for the appointment of a Mayor and ruling party being tied at 24:24. Outgoing Mayor Cllr Anne Cheale used her casting vote to install a Labour administration, who are now likely to control Thurrock for the next 12 months. Conservative group leader Cllr Phil Anderson gives his reactions to the evening’s events:

The Outcome

“Clearly we are disappointed at the result of Wednesday night. The Conservative Group has the talent, experience, and policies needed to lead Thurrock Council at this crucial and challenging time. But the biggest loser of Wednesday night was democracy itself. Rebel Conservative Councillor Terry Hipsey is still sitting on the Labour benches, and former Conservative leader Cllr Anne Cheale used her casting vote to put Labour back in power. Had either of these individuals acted in line with the wishes of those who elected them, Thurrock would now have a Conservative Council. Most local people simply do not understand how their representatives can behave in this way.”

Cllr Anne Cheale

“Cllr Cheale has told many people during the course of this year that she remains a Conservative and adheres to Conservative values. On Wednesday night she had the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that, but again chose to put Labour into power in Thurrock. Her actions speak louder than words.”

Overview and Scrutiny

With the Council so tightly balanced, the Conservative group believes that we need to give capable individuals from all parties a meaning role in how Thurrock Council is run. Our solution to this was to offer the chairmanships of all five of the powerful Overview and Scrutiny committees to the opposition had we taken power. Labour had initially indicated that they might do the same, but ultimately decided to keep two of the chairs for themselves. This means that in the crucial areas of Education, Children’s Social Care, Transport, Planning, and Regeneration, Labour can now gag the voice of constructive criticism whenever they find it embarrassing. Labour talk a good game about co-operating in the interests of Thurrock, but on Wednesday night they again failed to deliver.”

East Tilbury Community Groups

“The most shameful event of the evening was to see East Tilbury Independent Councillor Barry Palmer thrown off the Coalhouse Fort Project and the West Tilbury Commons Conservators. These are entirely non-political community roles, which Barry has served faithfully in for many years. The loss of his knowledge and experience to these projects could be seriously damaging. There can be no possible reason for this other than that Cllr Palmer is being punished by Labour for his failure to support them in a tight vote on the night. It was shocking to see newly elected Mayor Cllr Charlie Curtis use his casting vote to administer a political kicking. The dignity of the Mayoral office has suffered already as a result of his actions. I know that many Labour Councillors are uneasy about what was done in their name, and I urge them to now do the right thing and reverse this cynical decision at the earliest opportunity.”

Police Authority

“Prior to the evening, the Chief Executive of Thurrock Council received a letter from the Chief Executive of Essex Police Authority, requesting that due to the unique circumstances of this year we consider re-appointing Cllr Wendy Herd as the Council’s representative. A copy of the letter is attached. Labour chose to ignore this request, again using the Mayor’s casting vote to force Cllr Herd out of a role which she has performed exceptionally well in over the past 12 months. It is for them to explain their reasons, but suspicion will naturally be raised that the fact that this is a paid position meant more to them than the wishes of the Police Authority itself.”

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