Pilot ‘devolved budget’ plan

SEVEN councillors representing three wards in Thurrock will each have £2,000 to spend on improving their area over the coming months.

In February this year the council’s cabinet agreed £2,000 “devolved budgets” for all 49 members of the council following a recommendation from Overview and Scrutiny committee.

However the plan was thrown out by the full council as a cost-saving measure just a few weeks later.

At Wednesday (8 June) evening’s meeting of the cabinet when discussing “Reshaping local partnership working and Performance Reward Grant”, Council Leader Cllr John Kent said some of the grant would be used to pilot the devolved budget scheme.

He explained that changes to legislation over the past year combined with the imminent demise of the Primary Care Trusts and Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation meant “this council must take a stronger lead in place-shaping”.

He said: “It seems to me that these devolved budgets for members is an excellent way of getting involved with the community, we’ll run a pilot in three areas and see how it works.”

The wards chosen are:

Stanford East and Corringham Town, whose members are Cllr Phil Anderson — who supported the original proposal in February — Cllr Danny Nicklen and Cllr Phil Smith.

Tilbury St Chad’s, whose members are Cllr Steve Liddiard — who also supported the proposal in February — and Cllr Lynn Worrall.

Chafford South — Cllr Tunde Ojetola and Cllr Steve Veryard.

At February’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Lynn Worrall, cabinet member for Community, Culture and Leisure, said: “A cross party overview and scrutiny task and finish group has been looking into this issue of getting the council, including councillors, more involved with their communities.

“Although £2,000 doesn’t sound a lot, every ward has at two or three members, so it could be possible that between £4,000 and £6,000 could be spent, but I’m sure councillors will discuss proposals with residents before committing the money – that’s the whole point.”

She added: “Discussions with local forums, on the doorstep, in the street and in member surgeries should develop plenty of ideas.”

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