HOW fair is Thurrock? That was the challenge to Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (7 January).
Members were considering a report from the Fairness Commission which was set up in 2014 after cabinet established it.
The report was presented by Demus Lee, chair of the Commission, following a summer of activity talking to residents and partners about how fair things are for people who live and work in the borough.
Mr Lee said the commissioners spoke to hundreds of people who provided insight into what they love about the place and what they don’t.
The Commission’s recommendations include improved communication and information about services as well as a borough-wide residents’ survey.
Speaking afterwards, committee chair, Cllr Shane Hebb, said: “The Commission was thanked for its work, and the intent behind the work-stream.
“The findings are a good indicator of what the focus’ should be in areas such as adults and children’s social services, in terms of securing fairness for our vulnerable communities.
“Major policy changes were not required – it was actually communication which was seen as the biggest thing to work on.”
“The Commission had the unenviable task of gathering enough data to shape some significant priorities for our borough. The data we were presented with represented less than 0.2 per cent of the borough’s residents. We have recommended that any further surveying should yield more representative data.
“We also challenged the intent behind the term ‘fairness’, and said if we did carry on this work, that it needs to be pointed in what wants to achieve. Is the Commission an indicator of whether or not our policies are “fair”, or is it seeking to adapt local authority policy? That needs to be defined before any further work is completed in our view.”
The committee also received the half-year performance report and progress against priority actions.
Cllr Hebb added: “The findings of the Commission chime with the performance report about council services such as cleanliness and recycling.
“As I have said before, we want to be excellent and we need to see where we are doing well and where further work is needed to make sure we target our limited resources properly.”