Thursday, May 30, 2024

“Merged in thirty seconds” Tories slam “rush” to merge with Barking

THURROCK Conservatives have expressed their shock after Barking and Dagenham council approved a decision to push ahead with Thurrock merger plans – in less than 30 seconds.

Deputy Leader Cllr Rob Gledhill, one of four Conservatives who attended Barking and Dagenham’s council meeting on Wednesday said: “We decided to attend their meeting to see how they would deal with Thurrock’s rejection of plans for a management merger of the two councils.

“After sitting through long discussions over local petitions the decision on joint management was voted through in less than 30 seconds. No mention was made of Thurrock rejecting the same plans, no questions on how it will impact on the long term ability to deliver services, indeed the only word used was ‘agreed’. It begs the questions why was there no discussion and who wanted it forced through so quickly?”

The previous week Thurrock Council had agreed to continue to share legal services with Barking and Dagenham, and look at other similar back office savings, but rejected more far reaching joint-management plans. Local Conservatives expressed concerns that in key council services in Thurrock require full time focus, not part time shared leadership.

Cllr Gledhill added “Thurrock’s Labour Cabinet next week is being asked to agree to explore shared services with a range of authorities including Barking and Dagenham. Having lost the democratic vote, it’s easy to see that Labour will pay lip service to sharing with other authorities like Southend and Basildon, and instead will try to do a back-room deal to make their Barking merger plans happen.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. The sharing of services is clearly an option that should be considered, but to avoid the potential problems it may be an idea for the council to consult local residents on any proposals, to ensure there is a mandate from the electorate on any changes to local services and how these are delivered.

  2. TBC have still not given an explanation of why they chose B&D rather than an existing Essex borough council, is Thurrock so aligned with B&D and the issues that affect the areas or is this simply a politically motivated merger?

    The people of Thurrock need to be given an explanation of why a London borough was chosen over an Essex one and what the benefits will be for them, I personaly feel the local people of Thurrock are being duped by the current leadership.

  3. Colin – the problem with the council doing that is they know that Thurrock residents will block their decisions so they will not bother asking the residents. I’m like Lambo, I just don’t know why this council was chosen unless it was simply because they are a Labour council and we have a Labour council. I’d rather us go back under county council control.

  4. Bernard87- i think the county council option is interesting, and this might create opportunities for cost saving through procurement and the greater assests of the county. What about the argument that Barking is so close to Thurrock and is very similar due to location etc? I know a lot of residents fear that sharing of services with Barking will create a London approach in an area like Thurrock which has unique problems, and Barking and Dagenham is not viewed as a leading council, but is this justified or fear of change.

  5. Pairing up with Barking is hardly awe inspiring, especially given the state the Labour group there have made of their own finances, the complete running down of the borough and the quick change in population. There is also the question that no matter how close Thurrock is to Barking, we are not in the same county as that authority. There are several Essex authorities that the council could have chosen to share with but chose to pair up with the one Labour authority there is…none of our neighbours eg Basildon, Brentwood or Havering got a look in.

    Surely under county council control services become shared again so all the pressure is not on Thurrock Council. Costs will therefore come down. Thurrock was too small an area to be given UA status in the first place. Nearly every secondary school has left council control, maybe going back under Essex our primary schools might improve.
    Having read through the Unitary recommendations from 1995-1997 it’s very clear that those who controlled Thurrock in the mid 90s pushed for unitary status. Essex County Council did not want to detach itself from Thurrock. As a unitary authority Thurrock has made some disasterous mistakes.

  6. Going back to County control is an option but seem to remember Thurrock was not always treated favourably with regards to funding,North Essex received a disproportianate amount of funding by the Consevative led County Council.

  7. The point made by Bernard87 about the schools in Thurrock and the finances of Barking and Dageham is interesting i guess there are two parts to this debate: are there other local authorities that provide a better option for sharing services or would it be better to return to the County rather than Barking and Dagenham.
    Bernard87 said:
    “Surely under county council control services become shared again so all the pressure is not on Thurrock Council. Costs will therefore come down. Thurrock was too small an area to be given UA status in the first place. Nearly every secondary school has left council control, maybe going back under Essex our primary schools might improve”

    The census just released shows huge changes in Barking and Dagenham and this might be an issue in terms of community challenges and pressures on services and i think as Bernard suggests, how this will impact on Thurrock may become a concern as this debate continues. But dont we get a better deal as PERMAN suggests by keeping Thurrock unitary?

  8. “But dont we get a better deal as PERMAN suggests by keeping Thurrock unitary?”

    I don’t think the deal has been that good and I think Thurrock is in a better position now to fight for its fair share of funding no matter who is at the council. Harlow has managed to gain funding and its a LAB/CON marginal just like Thurrock. It’s worth looking into if savings have to be made.

  9. Just a thought to those who say we should return to Essex County Council – Council Tax is more expensive all over Essex! Also I agree with the line that we were not always treated well by Essex County Council.

  10. Take a look at Barkings books and you’ll know exactly why it took them 30 seconds to vote this through. Got to look after the comrades. The latest census results, although vastly understated should provide you with more understanding.

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