Thursday, July 25, 2024

Tories express concern at new chief executive arrangements

THE THURROCK Conservative group have expressed their concerns that plans to “share” the council’s chief executive Graham Farrant with Barking and Dagenham will impact on the borough’s improvement programme.

The cabinet meeting (Wednesday) at the council offices had begun with council leader, John Kent backing the scheme.

Conservative councillor, Tunde Ojetola asked the leader: “We have already seen the departure of officers Bill Newman, Tasnim Shawcatt and Richard Waterhouse.

“Could you detail what impact this further change will have on the transformation agenda?”

Council leader, John Kent replied: “Martin Whiteley has been added to the team which will continue to build on the good work already completed.


  1. With Eric Pickles and the Tories nationally continuously pushing the benefits of merging services and Councils, and the fact that Tory run Brentwood over the border from me has joined with Essex County Council, resulting in key services such as Highways going to Harlow, Parking and Finance going to Chelmsford, and a serious reduction in service on the ground as a result (suprise suprise!) – although it is good to see the Tories challenging this, I very much doubt whether they would do anything different if in power themselves. It’s Tory policy, now taken up by Labour.

    Each local authority has it’s own individual challenges, and it’s own needs which often differ greatly from other authorities. These arrangements, now commonplace unfortunately, deny councils the power or freedom to make their own decisions in reality, instill top down democracy, and take power one step further away from those that elect them. Frequently these arrangements operate on political lines – Thurrock and Barking are both Labour – Brentwood and Essex are both Conservative – what are the future of such arrangements if Council’s change political hands due to the will of electors? How can residents of Thurrock effect change which benefits residents of Tilbury, for example, and addresses issues there, if they are also looking at the impact on residents in Dagenham? Total loss of independence in local government. I hope the Tories are challenging this because they genuinely believe it could be a negative, as opposed to simply because they don’t like Labour.

  2. Horndon has posted a brilliant comment.

    Personally I don’t see why Thurrock Council didnt approach Basildon or Castle Point to share services with rather than a borough that is not even in the same county as Thurrock.

  3. Horndon has made an interesting point here, because the underlying issues are very subtle – “Each local authority has its own individual challenges, and its own needs which often differ greatly from other authorities”.

    The same is true at ward level however – West Thurrock and Purfleet has different challenges to nearby Chafford wards, and the challenges are different again in Orsett.

    Conversely, the chief executive of Essex county council (for example) is responsible for a wide range of locations with a similarly wide range of challenges – large towns and hubs like Chelmsford and Colchester, smaller towns and satellites like Braintree, and some really quite rural areas with villages. There isn’t much of an argument being made that they need 3 chief Execs, one for each type of location!

    In reality, running a council (much like running a business) is all about managing competing challenges in different areas, and implementing a broad range of things to improve things over all. It should be perfectly possible for a good chief exec to run both B&D and Thurrock – the geographical area and range of challenges will still be very much in line with what many other councils achieve.

    The issue for me is this. Braintree is stuck with Colchester in Essex, and Rosette is stuck with Chaffed in Thurrock. To unpick the existing arrangements and change the primary council in these locations would be difficult.

    We, however, have a choice. Thurrock is not stuck with B&D. As much as the partnership is doable, are there better potential partnerships to be explored, maybe with Basildon, maybe with Castle Point – whoever? We need to think carefully about what we want before we tie ourselves into something for the long term (which fortunately, this isn’t).

  4. Diluting the senior Management structure of Thurrock Council at the current moment does not bode well. There are number of massive challenges surrounding Borough regeneration (New Port / New “Grays” and Finance). that needs total committment from a complete Council elected Executive and employed Management. Not good.


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