Saturday, July 13, 2024

Thurrock’s UKIP councillors: Still listening, learning and working

IN MAY, UKIP won a large number of seats at the local elections in Thurrock which brought their number of councillors to thirteen.

Since then two (cllrs Colin Churchman and Robert Ray) have become Independents.

But since May (and we reported it in June as well) UKIP councillors have been seen in the public gallery of a large number of meetings.

Back in June, we asked their leader, cllr Graham Snell, why they were attending these meetings.

Cllr Snell said: "We all have very little experience as local councillors so are on a sharp learning curve. We just think the best way to familiarise yourself with the issues is to turn up, listen, absorb and take notes."

With Christmas approaching, UKIP are still turning up to the meetings. Eight of them at the last Cabinet meeting; a number at the annual general meeting of the Thurrock Independent Advisory Group (It scrutinises issues on criminal justice).

Sometimes, as on Monday’s Health and Well Being Committee, it is just one councillor (Stifford Clay’s Leslie Gamester) but they are still there, taking it all in.

In full council, it has become more and more apparent that Thurrock UKIP councillors are finding their voice as are and more rise to the floor to speak on policy.

Many have noted how well the leader, Graham Snell and deputy leader, Roy Jones work well together.

Others note that the seem much more of a coherent team when Tim Aker isn’t there ( he has not attended the last two full council meetings). One political observer, compared Thurrock UKIP without Tim Aker as like the England cricket team without Kevin Pietersen.

So, what is the point of this little article tucked away in the politics page of YT? There was a viewpoint that UKIP councillors would, once elected, would either not turn up or sit there blinking blankly like Homer Simpson.

They are still here and you write them off at their peril. They still have the ear of the (righty or wrongly) of the disaffected white population of Thurrock. Whist UKIP have withered on the vine in areas such as Harlow, Thurrock UKIP look like they have a bright future. It will make the May elections very interesting.


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