Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Closer links between Barking and Thurrock are the way forward says leader

THURROCK Council is looking seriously at a national first, an innovative way of saving millions of pounds without harming services to local people.

Council leader, Cllr John Kent, speaking at Wednesday (26 September) evening’s meeting of the full council, explained that closer links between Thurrock and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham were being investigated.

But he emphasised that this does not “mean Thurrock becoming a London borough by the back door”.

He said: “Thurrock remains unique – it’s not like the rest of Essex and it’s not like outer London either. Two-thirds green belt also means one-third urban, we have a rural and an industrial heritage, histories and experiences which inform who and what we are as well as who and what we will become.”

Cllr Kent added: “We have been sharing our legal services with Barking and Dagenham for some time now. We started by sharing the head of legal post and then expanding to include the whole service. This has brought some interesting and beneficial results for both councils.

“Not only do we both save money, but Thurrock has some legal expertise that Barking and Dagenham needs and B & D some that we need.

“No longer do we have to pay exorbitant expert fees, the experts already work for us! It’s quicker and cheaper.”

He described the London borough’s request to share Thurrock’s chief executive as “a compliment” but added that all councils were seeing their funding reduced and having to make major savings of millions of pounds.

“I have said many times that savings should not be in the front line, they should not hit the areas where we interact with local people and provide the services they need. I have not changed my mind,” he said.

“I do not want to see any redundancies at all, but especially not among the people who actually provide those services, the people who meet with the vulnerable, the young and the old, the people who keep our communities together.

“That is why I have agreed that we should look at a closer integration of some of our services with Barking and Dagenham. I have agreed that we should investigate the possibilities of a shared directors’ board and also the possibilities that could come from shared posts one step further down the hierarchy at head of service level.”

And he concluded: “This is Thurrock leading the way among local authorities. No-one has considered integration on this scale before, no-one has looked at sharing services between a unitary authority and a metropolitan borough.

“Initial estimates put potential savings in the multi-million pound range and if it means we can maintain or even improve our services to Thurrock people at the same time it has to be a good thing.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. How I wish i could believe that Thurrock will not become a London Borough with these links becoming stronger, it is what the London Labour Mayoral Candidate (Red Ken) wanted, and I can see this slowly happening.

    Why dont Thurrock go back to Essex surely they have all the expertise that B&D have???

  2. I have nothing wrong with London in particular and I’m a proud ex-eastender but I do have an issue with Thurrock Council cosying up to Barking and Dagenham, a council who sought to change the very nature of the place in the last decade by importing voters from other parts of London. There are many decent parts of Barking and Dagenham and I’m sure there are a good range of capable staff members within the council but the fact remains that Thurrock is in Essex and a link with an Essex district should have been sought first irrespective of political colours. Basildon, Castle Point and Southend are fairly similar to Thurrock in terms of environment, culture, housing, green belt etc so I’m confused why Thurrock has linked itself to a borough who is not even next door. I forgot to mention that all but two councillors in Barking and Dagenham are Labour.

    I am still baffled as to why Thurrock is a unitary authority in the first place!

  3. Comrade Kent appears to be saying that all senior management are currently under utilised and have so much spare time on their hands that they can afford to do another job at the same time. This looks like a simple money saving exercise so here’s a another option. Employ all senior management on a part time basis and allow them to increase their hours in times of need. There’s no need for any link with Barking. This isn’t an economies of scale excercise as it only involves senior management. I for one don’t want another left wing council involved in the running of Thurrock Council. The current mob are bad enough. Barking are broke and it looks like the Comrade wants to stick with his brothers and get Thurrock council tax payers top help them out.

  4. Private sector companies do this a lot one regional and often national director overseeing several offices/operations. Sounds like a good chance to update the public sector to me

  5. Tilbury boy, how correct you are regarding private sector companies, however they are set up with regional directors and sales persons from the start, whereas TBC employed a full time CEO , a full time Legal expert as with the rest of its senior management. If the council had wanted part time managers surely they would have employed them as such. In general the principal should be explored as the savings will be immediate but the service will suffer.

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