THE LEADER of the Thurrock Conservatives has called on Labour bosses to dump their chair of the planning committee following the decision to allow the Titan lorry park to continue to operate over the next four years.
The inspector’s decision is critical of the 28-day notice championed by Councillor Terry Hipsey, chair of the planning committee.
In his report, planning inspector Mr Pete Drew concluded that the closure of the lorry park at such short notice would be ”contrary to the interests of local residents”, and would “result in a direct loss of employment” affecting local people in already difficult economic circumstances.
Cllr Hipsey pushed through the 28 day enforcement notice in September 2010, going “against the advice of council officers” that this timescale was unworkable.
Conservative leader Cllr Phil Anderson condemned the decision at the time as “gesture politics”, and warned that it would almost certainly be subject to challenge.
Commenting on Friday, Cllr Anderson said: “I am disappointed but sadly not surprised by today’s decision. There has been a lot of public concern about this issue, and it could now be several years before the matter is finally resolved.
“We are left in the very unsatisfactory position where the council cannot enforce against what was previously an illegal site, but the owners do not have the certainty they would need to invest in decent quality facilities for the future.
“The reputation of the planning committee has been compromised and taxpayers money has been wasted on a needless inquiry, with nothing to show for it as a result. I am still genuinely confused about Cllr Hipsey’s motives for forcing through the original decision.
“Either he was very naïve in believing that his heavy handed approach was going to work, or very shrewd and this was actually the outcome that he for some reason wanted all along.
“With Thurrock Council due to take over full planning powers from the Development Corporation in less than 8 months, the Labour party now need to consider whether he is still the right person to lead planning going forwards.”
YT has requested a comment from Thurrock Council and the owners of the Titan Works lorry park, ICG but have not had a reply at the time of going to press.