A SENIOR member of the Conservative government joined local Tory leaders in a show of support for beleaguered MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.
Planning and Housing minister Brandon Lewis was shown round Grays in a fact-finding mission on regeneration projects.
An hour before, Mr Lewis had been in Harlow where the tone of the housing summit was all about cross party co-operation. Indeed, Mr Lewis stood shoulder to shoulder with both Labour and Conservative colleagues.
The tone of the Thurrock visit was somewhat different and appeared to be a combination between a vote of confidence in Jackie Doyle-Price and a sustained attack on Thurrock Council.
In front of a specially invited press (i.e.not us), Mr Lewis and Ms Doyle-Price told the assembled reporter of alleged disquiet amongst senior council officers as well as inferring that Labour in Thurrock have to adjust their policies due to UKIP.
The leader of Thurrock UKIP, cllr Graham Snell has poured scorn on the comments made by both Mr Lewis and Ms Doyle-Price.
Cllr Snell said: – Tory Minister Brandon Lewis said council officers had told him there was no clear leadership at the authority, and that they were "waiting for something to happen".
Response, UKIP Group Leader, Graham Snell: The Council has just published plans for the complete regeneration of Grays and is midway through a huge Council house refurbishment program. Hardly signs of a Council "waiting for things to happen"
Mr Lewis said: "I’ve just listened to council officers telling me they’re having to do things because Labour is worried about what Ukip might do.
Response, UKIP Group Leader, Graham Snell: UKIP have voted in support of both Labour and Conservative motions, I do not get the sense that Labour are particularly worried about us but the Tories do seem to be.
Mr Lewis – Labour currently have 18 councillors, with the Tories 17 and Ukip 11. Many have observed in the last year an "alliance" in the council chamber between the Labour and Ukip.
Response, UKIP Group Leader, Graham Snell: Utter nonsense, there has never been an alliance between UKIP and Labour. We are always prepared to support good Tory ideas. The problem is, they don’t have many.
Ms Doyle-Price said: "The problem is once your leadership stops focusing on what’s right and instead does what Ukip votes on, we aren’t going to go anywhere in Thurrock. We’ll go hell in a handcart, quite frankly."
Response, UKIP Group Leader, Graham Snell: Again, nonsensical. UKIP has it’s own agenda and votes accordingly. Unlike our MP, we listen to our residents and always put them before party politics.
Mr Lewis added: "That’s the problem when you’ve got an administration that makes its decisions based on the fear of what one of the minor parties might do, you actually start making political decisions. They’re not making decisions that are right for the area.
Response, UKIP Group Leader, Graham Snell: This is really desperate stuff, Thurrock is in no overall control, surely it is better for all three parties to try to work together for the good of the people of Thurrock. To be fair, that is what all three parties have been doing up to now. It seems that the Tories have given up on that to strike out on their own. There must be an election coming!