Looking to the future
A couple of dozen people joined top Thurrock Council officers and councillors in Chafford Hundred.
The latest Thurrock’s Future – Let’s Talk session was held at the Warren Primary School in Gilbert Road and covered a wide range of issues which will affect local communities over the coming years.
The sixth event, where members of the council’s directors’ board and cabinet answer questions from local people, opened with chief executive Graham Farrant giving a presentation on the council’s vision for the borough’s future.
He spoke of the many regeneration schemes which are already moving forward here – and said he was lucky to be in Thurrock while many of his chief executive colleagues were seeing their plans being put on hold because of the world-wide financial situation.
Questions from the floor initially focused around topics close to home and how Lakeside expansion would affect Chafford Hundred residents, including traffic congestion and even the possible need for a new West Thurrock railway station.
The audience heard that the council had already started considering these issues. It was putting pressure on the government to improve the road network, including Junction 30 of the M25, the Thames crossing, and the A13; it was starting to look at if a new station would be needed – and where it should be; and it would be consulting over the need for local road improvements and how the Lakeside area should develop with shops, offices and homes in the New Year.
The meeting was also told that a government announcement over a new modern bus scheme linking Lakeside with Basildon Hospital (the South Essex Rapid Transit system) was expected soon.
The discussion ranged from the need for new schools and new medical facilities, through apprenticeships to safeguarding children and how local people of all ages should be able to take advantage of the many new jobs being created.
Cllr John Kent, Leader of the Council, said afterwards: “I’m always pleasantly surprised by how insightful local people are. We come to an area and obviously anticipate that local people will ask local questions.
“Yet time after time I find that our residents are willing to buy into our vision for Thurrock. They have the same concerns we do and if we can all work together to achieve something approaching that vision – a vibrant Thurrock with managerial and professional jobs for our residents; decent homes, a working road network and a thriving local economy, then I am confident that in ten or 20 years time we’ll all be able to look back and say with pride: I helped create that.”