Saturday, April 13, 2024

Blogpost: Mr Perrin considers memorials for councillors

Mr. Perrin’s blog “A Word in your Ear”

At the September meeting of Full Council Cllr Robert Ray called for *Those Councillors who passed away during their service as a Member of Thurrock Council (since the turn of the new century) to be commemorated in the Council Chamber for their work and contributions to the community of Thurrock*, the motion was carried unanimously thereby committing the Council to institute some form of commemoration for such Councillors. Cllr Ray’s wife was elected a Councillor in May 2014 and died 4 months later in September so it could be perceived that Cllr Ray has a vested interest in proposing his motion.

At the October meeting I asked the Leader of the Council, Cllr John Kent, *Has any decision been made as to how such Councillors will be commemorated*? His answer was:-

“Research has been undertaken to identify those members who have passed away whilst in office since we became a unitary authority on the 1st April 1998. Officers are now looking into the various options for the design and placement of a suitable memorial in this Chamber, probably across the back wall there with the other rolls”.

My reply to Cllr Kent was:-

“There are many members of the public who devote their entire lives to working for and contributing to the betterment of the community, and do so without seeking recognition or commemoration. Their motivation being that it is the right thing to do. It is an example, I believe, Councillors would do well to follow. Would you accept that recognition and commemoration of former Councillors is purely a matter for Councillors, and any costs should be borne by themselves and not the taxpayer”?

Cllr Kent replied:-

“Madam Mayor, probably for the past 10 years we have celebrated the contributions made by residents across the Borough, the huge contributions that are made, through things such as the Civic Awards. There are other honours such as Freedom of the Borough, There are pictures there of Freemen and Freewomen of the Borough, some of them ex-councillors and some of them not. We celebrate the good work that happens in schools through the Education Awards, the Education Awards being in November. I think that it is rather churlish to suggest that should we wish to have the Mayoral roll, there as we have, that the Mayor or Members should pay to have their name carved onto the wall under others. I also think it is churlish to suggest that if a Member has died in office that we shouldn’t do something as an Authority just to mark that event and to mark our respect”.

I never at any time suggested that the Council should do nothing to recognise or commemorate Members who die whilst in office, it is disingenuous of Cllr John Kent to imply otherwise. The point I was making, I believed the cost of carving in stone the names of Members who die whilst in office was ostentatious and should not be charged to the tax payer. In my opinion it would be sufficient and less ostentatious to institute a “Book of Remembrance in which the names of deceased Councillors, past and present, were recorded. Cllr J Kent notes that the Council recognises the good work done by members of the public by means of such things as the Civic Awards, again the point I was making, the recipients of Civic Awards do not personally seek recognition or reward, unlike Councillors.

Was it churlish of me to suggest that Councillors should bear the cost of carving in stone the names of Councillors who die whilst in office?


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