Thurrock Council leader John Kent slams Essex County Council as they walk away from partnership.

A DISAPPOINTED leader of Thurrock Council said he is determined to see a partnership of councils and businesses from across south Essex continue into the future.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the council’s cabinet, Cllr John Kent explained that Essex County Council was withdrawing, threatening the whole organisation.

He said: “The Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership has existed since the 1990s and is a well-established partnership, consisting of Thurrock and Southend, as the two unitary authorities that book-end the area, with Basildon, Rochford and Castle Point as the district councils, and Essex County Council as the second tier authority for those districts.

“The partnership has actually been pretty successful over the years, and just recently Thames Gateway South Essex as one of the four federated areas of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership managed to secure about £155 million worth of funding – that is 40 per cent of all the funding allocated to the LEP by government in the first round of the Local Growth Fund.

“Of that Thurrock was able to secure about £92 million, principally for A13 widening.

“So it’s clearly a partnership that works and clearly a partnership that is delivering.”

But since then things have changed, he said, and “I am really disappointed that Essex County Council have signalled their intent to withdraw from the partnership, which in effect means that it, as it currently exists will cease to exist at the end of this financial year”.

He said the partnership met last week including all members, with the exception of Essex, “that includes the business representatives from across south Essex where we unanimously agreed that a partnership should continue, post 1 April, and that’s what we have agreed to establish”.

Cllr Kent said: “It’s Southend and Thurrock that are leading on the work to put that together, but all representatives there were keen work, and the partnership should continue in one form or another.

“Particularly strong were the businesses from south Essex who know that if we end up in a competition which is pan–Essex with Thurrock or Castle Point having to take their chances alongside Clacton or Chelmsford, or Harlow, the chance of us getting the help and the funding we need to get the jobs and promote the growth we all want to see in south Essex would be just that much more difficult.

“Businesses recognise that, we recognise that and that’s why we intend to establish a new partnership to deliver.”

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