THIS COULD be a rocky year for Thurrock Council.
In a few weeks,they lose their chief executive, Graham Farrant. Like any chief exec., Mr Farrant will have his critics. However, this has been a period of stability at the civic offices since the period when there was a revolving doors of chief executives.
Mr Farrant was an excellent ambassador for the borough of Thurrock. His detractors will just describe him a a front man but sometimes you wonder what the said detractors would be happy with?
Hi successor will have a hard act to follow and will need to be at the very least, the beacon for regeneration that Mr Farrant has been.
In many ways, the position of council leader, John Kent is similar. Cllr Kent is head and shoulders, the most able of the councillors in the chamber. However, he attracts the same criticisms and usually from the members of his own party, who seem to imagine their is a brave new world of Labour councillors in Thurrock, willing, ready and able to lead the council.
They may be a little ahead of themselves on many counts. Between now and then and of interest to about 27 people, there will no doubt be rumours and counter-rumours of who will be running Thurrock Council after May 27th.
We say May 27th because that is the day of the annual council. With 18 Labour, 17 Conservatives and 13 UKIP, there are a number of possibilities and alliances that could come into play.
But above all that is the image of the council itself. There is a growing discontent with the council, that officers and members alike may want to heed.
We are not just talking about Jack Barnes and his megaphone. Although that is a situation, that may well not go away. And who knows, Mr Barnes may be joined by other discontented citizens.
But Mr Barnes is joined by Chafford Hundred residents who are putting a petition together about the state of their ward, East Tilbury residents and their growing feeling of isolation.
There is also about a dozen other single issues that need to be addressed now.
Others may feel that they are held in contempt. An example may be the council response to the litter on Grays High Street. The first line the response was to remind everyone that the council did not cause the litter. We know what they were saying but in a story that did attract a lot of readers, was it the best way to express themselves?
They will also have an MP that is gunning for them. It was a key part of Jackie Doyle-Price’s election strategy and now she will feel vindicated.
And who knows, in twelve months time, this could be a UKIP council…..
In conclusion, this may be a year, more than any other when Thurrock Council has to connect with its citizens more than any other. If it continues to go down a road of cold indifference then it may be in for a crisis.