Monday, September 26, 2022

Ward by Ward: Belhus

A FEW WEEKS ago, YT went to a Neighbourhood Action Panel meeting on a cold and windy night in Belhus. Among the participants was councillor Sue Gray. Sue was taking the minutes. Sue is also the chair of the South Ockendon Residents Association and has been the councillor for the ward for four years.

On any given Tuesday or Saturday morning, Sue holds surgeries at a variety of locations in the ward. Sue also sits on a number of committees on the council.

Sue’s critics will say that there seems to be a confusion as to what cllr Gray prioritises. Others say, Sue is a councillor who doesn’t work hard enough.

We spoke to Sue earlier in the week over a coffee in a garden centre. Sue believes she can balance all the roles and can fulfil them.

There has been an awful lot of fuss in the South Ockendon Residents Association (SORA) which is of no interest to the voters whatsoever. But people do reflect on how cllr Mike Stone runs the Orchards Community Forum seamlessly whereas SORA seems to be eight people in a hall falling out and failing to impart their information to 8000 residents.

To be fair to Sue, she is deeply concerned about the issues in her ward and has told YT that matters such as the “Granny Tax”, meals on wheels provision are of deep concern to the voters.

In our conversation, Sue also expressed concern at the M25 noise issue, the Belhus Skate Park problem and a host of other issues.

There is also a real concern regarding crime. Not anti-social behaviour but crime. It cannot be a co-incidence that a court reporter out of Grays and now Basildon magistrates can name the South Ockendon recidivists at the drop of a hat.

These are the issues that count: not the internecine disputes but the day to day issues that effect and/or blight people’s lives.

You have the feeling that Sue is on a last chance with the Labour leaders. If this was Basildon or Harlow, she would have been de-selected. The leaders will expect no SORA fuss and a lot more casework.

Last year, cllr Charlie Curtis received a lot of criticism from a number of quarters over his handling of matters to do with the Howard Tenens issue. At the election, his vote went up from 645 in 2007 to a whopping 1034 in 2011. He may have been wrong about one issue but the local people believed in him and backed him.

People may not like the sound of it but the collapse of the BNP sees a lot of voters returning to Labour. The 727 votes gained by the BNP in 2010 (no candidate now) may well continue to go to Labour.

The Tories only lost by 231 votes back in 2008. Billy Taylor ran a cracking campaign in 2007 and lost by 27. That should not have changed to 641 by 2011. They may need to find a local person who will stick at this ward for a few years.

Prediction: Labour hold: Maj 500

Chris Baker

UK Independence Party

David Morgan


John Livermore

Liberal Democrats

Sue Gray



  1. Unfortunately the media do not go out of their way to afford “cosy” interviews over cups of coffee to ordinary members of the public to hear their views regarding the performance of their Councillors. I also suspect that the local media is vulnerable to pressure from the Council, and therefore is inclined to be over cautious, when having regard for possible revenue from advertising etc, for example the switch from “Thurrock Gazette” to “Thurrock Enquirer” by the Labour Party administration. Coincidentally the Editor of the “Thurrock Enquirer” happens to be the father of Richard Speight a “leading light” in the Thurrock Labour Party and a prospective Labour Councillor.

    It is rather dismissive of “YT” Ediitor, Michael Casey, to describe the “differences” and criticism of Councillors by members of the public as *internecine” i.e. “destructive”. Most people believe they have just cause for their criticisms and their actions are fully justified. To imply that they are motivated by petty spite or vengance is insulting and hurtful.

    Regarding the “whopping” increase to the vote for Cllr Charles Curtis, I would point out that to suggest this was a”personal” vote for him is misleading as most people are allied to and vote for a political Party.
    I submit this alternative view:-

    To vote or not to vote that’s the dilemma for many of us in the Belhus Ward.

    With just 7 days left before polling day some will have decided who to vote for, mostly based on Party loyalty and national issues. Some will have already voted, e.g. by postal vote, and may now be regretting that they are unable to change their vote. Others will just not bother to vote for reasons ranging from utter boredom to disenchantment with the whole process and feel it is a waste of their time.

    “Your Thurrock” recently commented that “In general, and by Labour’s own admission, the standard of some of the Labour candidates in Thurrock is far below that in Basildon and Harlow”, an admission that suggests that the people of Thurrock are being “short changed” and candidates, who are not up to the job, are selected for their complaisance rather than their abilities.

    As I am a Belhus Ward resident I will, mostly, confine myself to the Belhus Ward candidates and in particular the incumbent Councillor Sue Gray who, thus far in this election period, has been invisible and silent. In view of the lack of opposition from the other candidates in the Belhus Ward maybe she thinks her re-election is a “walk over” so why bother campaigning or meeting with people and making herself aware of their concerns about LOCAL issues. If that is her thinking there is the danger that people will perceive her as complacent or worse downright lazy.

    Her record, as a Councillor, over the past 4 years, has been inglorious and her attendance at Council meetings, especially when compared to her attendance at South Ockendon Residents Association [SORA] meetings, has been sporadic to say the least. When asked where she believed her primary responsibilities lay regarding her duties as an elected Councillor and those as Chair of SORA she replied “my duty and responsibilities as Chair of SORA will always come before my duties and responsibilities as a Councillor” despite the fact that only 5 people recently elected her as Chair of SORA compared to the 700+ Belhus residents who voted for her in 2008 as their Councillor. She is either stupid or breathtakingly arrogant, or maybe both, if she assumes that the electorate is so easily duped as to allow her to deceive them a second time but then perhaps she, along with Cllr Aaron Kiely, is a classic example of the low standard Councillor “Your Thurrock” refers to.

    So where does this leave the Labour Party voter on 3rd May, 2012? Ask yourselves:-

    Has she lived up to the promises she made and met with your expectations?

    Has she, over the past 4 years, succeeded in improving the environment in which you live such as tackling crime, anti-social behaviour, ensuring that your Council rented home is decent and safe, i.e. free from “Category 1 Hazards” such as Toxic Black Mould and Asbestos materials?

    Has she, apart from her concern for the annoyance caused to residents in Humber Avenue as a result of widening the M25, been concerned about the problems of noise, pollution and damage caused by heavy goods vehicles [HGVs] on our LOCAL roads such as Stifford Road and Daiglen Drive? Has she shown any concern for the likely threat to the safety of pedestrians, especially children and the elderly, as a consequence of the probable increase to the number of HGVs passing through populated areas in Belhus?

    Has she knocked on your door to speak with you and listen to your concerns about LOCAL issues? Have you found her easily accessible in addition to the monthly “surgeries”?

    Do you consider it acceptable for a Councillor to put other interests, apart from family and work, above her duties and responsibilities as a Councillor and to continue to be paid from the “public purse” i.e. tax payer’s money?

    If your answer is “NO” to any of the above questions then I suggest you seriously consider whether you want more of the same for the next 4 years
    Do you believe the Belhus Labour Candidate is value for money? Or do you believe she is complacent, taking your vote for granted, considers the result a “foregone conclusion” and all she has to do is return to the Council Chamber and pick up her money?

    My advice to Labour voters in Belhus is make it abundantly clear to Sue Gray that you do not take kindly to being ignored or taken for granted and that if she cannot be bothered with you why should you be bothered to vote for her. I do not urge you to vote for another candidate, though you may decide to do so, simply register your disapproval by staying away and not voting at all or, if you feel you have a duty to vote, go to the polling station “spoil” your ballot paper and put it in the ballot box.

    “Bad Councillors prosper if good people do nothing”!

  2. I am quiet out of breath after reading your comments Mr Perrin and I do Agree with you. I am wondering if Cllr Gray was elected four years ago to make the numbers up? There always seems to be a lot of contention around this women whether it be of her own making or otherwise and I should imagine a big embarrassment to the council. Anything she has done for the residents in the last four years cannot be commented on, there simply isnt anything. Does she relise that she lives across the road from the flats which are full of mould? I think she does, but probably has the attitude of, I cannot be botherd. I believe she is on the overview and scrutiny Comm (HEALTH) but due to her constant ABSENCE she has shown she is not in support of these family’s. Quiet honestly I think she is a disgrace not only to herself but to the Labour party, but then again the other two are no better. I am sure any one of us residents could stand for election and do a much better job, what are YT comments on this? Mr Perrin for election next year?

  3. I am surprised to see Sue Gray standing again but I guess Belhus is happy with three lazy councillors


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