Sunday, January 29, 2023

Grays Beach Park and Chafford Library: “Tories maths way off the mark” claims Labour

TOP Labour councillor, Lynn Worrall has hit back at the Tory firestorm of criticism over their handling of the closure of Chafford Hundred library and the debate over the “sale” of Grays Beach Park.

YT asked cllr Worrall to re-iterate what she said at council last week.

“The Tory fixation on Chafford Hundred is understandable, all four ward councillors are Tories.

But it is their complete lack of understanding and their inability to listen gives pause and may go some way as to explain why the council’s finances were in such a mess when Labour took over the administration a year ago.

Speaking at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, Cllr Ojeotola rightly said there is £40,000 available. No argument from us there. But if he believes that £40,000 will enable a new library in Chafford Hundred he is clearly way off the mark.

There is no way – and in truth he knows this – that we can hire a building, ensure it is properly secure, install computer systems and computers, pay staff, install shelving and all of the extras for anywhere short of £100,000 and probably more.

If it was Cllr Ojetolas way of mathematics that was used while the Tories were in power it will go some way as to explain what they overspent by £4 million.

To further add to this, to open up a new library we’d also need to take all of the books away from the Chafford Hundred campus, where currently the children have easy access to them, and put them in the new building.

I can quite understand why Cllr Ojeotola is making a fuss, I just wish that he would do it with some semblance of sense and the facts.

I have said time and time again that I am available to meet with him and his fellow colleagues to see if we can find and affordable way forward for Chafford residents and that offer still stands.

As for Grays Beach Park, I was little confused by Phil Anderson’s comments at Wednesdays full council meeting regarding Grays Beach Park.

According to him the Tories changes to our budget proposals made no reference to the park, and in a through the back door kind of way that is true. The way their amendment was written it implies they don’t want to privatise anything.

But as I pointed out to Cllr Anderson it was the previous leader of the Tory group that gave a lengthy spiel explaining what it was they wanted to happen under this amendment.

He said: ‘We believe there is a real opportunity to package up leisure related facilities at Thameside Theatre, the Museum, Grays Beach, community halls and outsource these to a specialist organisation or trust who really know what they are doing in terms of creating fantastic leisure opportunities for the local people’.

Now if ‘packaging up’ all of these services, including the beach, and outsourcing to a ‘specialist organisation’ doesn’t mean privatising or selling off I don’t know what does.

13 COMMENTS

  1. By using the word ‘outsource’ it implies that you are seeking to obtain services from outside of your own establishment. What it does not imply is that you are seeking to sell to an organisation outside of your own establishment. In this case, I would read it that the running of the facilities mentioned would be handed over to an organisation or organisations that have greater expertise in running those facilities than the council does. I do not read into it that the facilities themselves are to be sold. From everything that’s been printed on Yourthurrock lately it would seem that Labour have been caught out spreading a few porkies and are now, rather lamely, trying to winkle out of apologising.

  2. Well said gray64, mind you it would not be the first time that Labour have tried to pull the wool over peoples eyes and then when they get caught they seek to spead the balme rather than standing up and being counted.

    Surely the Labour flyers that went out during the pre-election weeks could be subject to an investigation for libelous statements……..

  3. Thurrock Conservatives failed to clarify their Budget amendments and left the “door” open to interpretation. Asking for an apology now is pointless and petty, especially when Conservative strategy was at best about ambiguity and to unnerve (especially staff at the Adult College). The result of the “7pm” amendment was the loss of the Conservative Leader, Councillors and ultimately the Council. Maybe they will discuss in future as we all hopefully wish Thurrock Councillors to do!

  4. The thing is, if Cllr Worrall has quoted the previous Tory leader correctly, there is no ambiguity. Rather, it is Cllr Worrall’s and, presumably other Labour Cllr’s misinterpretation of what has been said that has caused the fuss. Don’t get me wrong, the timing of the whole budget issue by the local Tories was woeful and unhelpful and they deserve most of what they got because of it. However, representing misinterpreted statements as fact is also wrong. Asking for an apology now is not petty because Labour used blatant falsehoods in their election literature and that deserves an apology. It is pointless though because Politicians loath apologies and also because, of course, they are never wrong. About anything. Ever. And therin lays another reason why 60% of the population of Thurrock couldn’t be bothered to vote.

  5. its about time someone explained the facts of life to ejitola,he has been making a fool of himself.

  6. ‘Package up and outsource’ Thurrocks leisure service said Gary Hague and backed by every Tory coucillor and the two independent East Tilbury Tories. How can that be interpreted as anything else as privatising our local services including the park.

    Only a very niave person would believe that under this banner admission to the Grays beach park would remain free to Thurrock residents. We have already seen a Tory council start charging Thurrock residents admission for visiting its park and there is a real appetite for this model wth the Thurrock Tories.

    How would any private organisation meet its running costs if it didnt charge admission to the park. Impulse Leisure is still heavily subsidised by the council and i cannot see any model that would make the park any different.

    And finally there is the little problem of threatened legal action should the council even dip their toe in the water.

  7. Sting, you think it’s not possible to outsource the running of these facilities whilst retaining ownership of the properties themselves? That is what I reckon was intended. You are correct, only a naive person would believe that Grays beach would remain free to use, I never expected that it would remain free. Grays beach, in its present form, loses money, money which I assume comes out of the coffers of the council. Is it right for the Council to constantly sustain a loss making enterprise?
    The fact of the matter seems to be that, whether you like it or not, Grays beach isn’t used by enough people in the borough to make it pay for itself. If the facility is to remain open for use then it has to turn a profit, at the very least it needs to break even. If that means charging to get in then so be it.

  8. Grays64: I fully understand that the park could be outsourced and Thurrock council still own the park itself -that has never been my debate. I understand that Impulse Leisure run Thurrocks leisure services under the same sort of agreement. Gary Hague referred to this company in his interview and that they may be interested in running other services in Thurrock including leisure services. 10 years down the line Thurrock residents still pay inexcess of 100k per year to Impulse to deliver the service on behalf of the council. Who ever ran the park would need to be paid to do it, so where is the saving.

    What i am opposed to as a Thurrock resident who uses the Grays Beach Park is paying for the priveledge to go there with my family and friends. If we impose an entrance fee here why not Coalhouse Fort or the new park at Mucking. We will start ourselves on a slippery slope and i will stand firm and campaign that this will never happen.

    Come on Grays64, we dont get much for our council tax, lets leave our parks alone.

  9. bloody hell, I can’t believe I am going to say this! I agree with Sting! Whilst I can see the sense in the council trying to make the beach profitable, after Sting’s comments above I also think that we get precious little for our council tax and he’s right, let us at least have free use of Grays beach. There, I said it. Now I am going for a lay down.

  10. ”I can quite understand why Cllr Ojeotola is making a fuss, I just wish that he would do it with some semblance of sense and the facts”.what a lovely insult!!!!

  11. Nobody has noticed the following quote in the above article from the easily flustered Councillor Worrall:

    “To further add to this, to open up a new library we’d also need to take all of the books away from the Chafford Hundred campus, where currently the children have easy access to them, and put them in the new building…”

    These books were provided for a public library for all residents. They were not provided for an Academy to keep.

    The school has kicked out the public libary but has kept the public books. The council should remove its property and distribute them amongst the rest of our libaries for all residents to read.

    The school can then buy its own books from its education budget.

    The school has become an academy to escape council control. It didn’t want the public using the libary so has kicked it out but has kept the books.

    You can’t have it both ways Chafford Campus – either give everybody access to the public libary stock you hold or pay the council the value of the books that only your pupils can read or hand them back and buy your own books.

  12. Maybe its time to look for external funding or section 106 monies and build a swimming pool at Grays Beach! Olympic Size. Study other Boroughs first and other Countries – Lottery Funding / European Union monies even.

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