LONG-running tensions in Thurrock Council’s planning committee boiled over into full council last week when its chairman, Cllr Terry Hipsey, publicly asked Conservative leader Cllr Phil Anderson to leave the committee, saying members were bored of his “whinging and moaning” reports the Thurrock Enquirer.
During question time for members of the Council’s ruling executive, Cllr Anderson had asked Cllr Hipsey why he had allowed two members of the public to speak in favour of an application for dog kennels in Fobbing Road, Corringham, at October’s planning meeting when normal procedure dictates an even balance of public speakers for and against applications.
One of those speaking was former mayor Anne Cheale, a former member of the planning committee herself – and the Tory defector whose actions led to the Tories losing control of the authority to Labour.
At full Council last Thursday Cllr Anderson asked Cllr Hipsey, himself a Tory defector and former leader of the Tories and the Council: “Please can you clarify why you allowed an additional speaker to try and persuade the committee to support this application, and whether on reflection you would concede that you made a serious error of judgement?”
Cllr Hipsey didn’t pull his punches in his reply describing Cllr Anderson’s question as an attempt to ‘mischief make’ within the council chamber.
He continued: “I am the chair of this planning committee so if you don’t like it, why not leave? Members are fed up of you whinging and moaning anyway.”
That line prompted howls of derision from the Tory benches with councillors sarcastically adding: “Come on Phil, have a whinge, have a moan.”
Cllr Anderson replied arguing the application did not come close to showing the ‘exceptional circumstances’ needed for more members of the public to speak in favour of an application than against it.
This prompted yet another blunt retort with Cllr Hipsey saying: “Unlike you, I am not willing to stifle debate. I used my discretion on this particular application – if you don’t like it, lump it!”