Thurrock Council leader John Kent mocks Tories and UKIP over street lights

THURROCK Council leader, John Kent has welcomed the discussion on street lights at one of the council committees but has also taken the opportunity to pour scorn on the Tories and UKIP.

Council Leader John Kent was at the Planning, Transport and Regeneration overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday 12 November having to defend cabinet’s proposals to replace the borough’s 17,000 sodium streetlamps with modern LED lights.

He said: “I couldn’t believe this proposal had been called in by Tory Sue Little and there was no real explanation of why they had done it – last month she had even asked for LED streetlights to be installed if a planning application was approved.

“But on Wednesday Sue Little didn’t turn up to explain her call – in and, instead, had to rely on Rob Gledhill to stand in and give a strange list of questions ranging from will the new lights work in fog to will they attract and kill butterflies.

“Cllr Gledhill then went on to claim this was their idea in the first place. What were they playing at?

“If their concerns were real they would have made much play of them at cabinet back in August when this this decision was originally taken; if their concerns were genuine they would have asked officers for a full explanation at the time. They did not.

“Instead they forced a three month delay in working on a plan to improve our streetlights while saving us all £¼ million a year.

“And what’s even stranger is that when the only Tory voting member at the meeting proposed a so-called amendment, Cllr Gledhill had to remind UKIP’s Robert Ray in a strange stage whisper that he was supposed to second it.”

Cllr Kent said: “That became a farce when Cllr Ray went on to say the council’s pilot scheme had put an LED light outside his home and he was very impressed by it. He was all in favour of the scheme.

“In the end common sense prevailed and the committee threw out the call in three-to-one so now we can get on with getting things organised. We’d put six months aside to ensure we could start work in time for the beginning of the new financial year, now three of those months have been wasted.

“We have agreed that we’ll talk with local people about the plans – but we would have done that anyway and it have started by now without this pointless circus – we have agreed that overview and scrutiny will be kept informed, but that’s a given anyway too.

“I would welcome sensible opposition argued with conviction, if fact we have already accepted some changes to our savings proposals because they were sensible, but I am angered by people playing the game to try – and fail – to make silly political points at the expense of Thurrock Council and Thurrock council tax payers.”

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