THE new leader of Thurrock Council has gone on the record to defend why Thurrock Council did not put on a special event to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Whilst councils throughout the country put on special events very early on Friday morning, Thurrock Council appear to have simply held a two minute silence in the foyer of the civic offices.
Our sister paper attended a very moving ceremony in Harlow (which you can see below) which, despite the early start, had over a hundred residents in attendance.
The feeling that the council was not quite sensing the importance of the event was perhaps underlined when the mayor of Thurrock, clrl Cathy Kent announced at the full council meeting on Wednesday night, that the centenary was "last week".
Conservative council leader, Rob Gledhill said: "Councillors and officers have been working alongside community volunteers to support local commemorative works for this year’s historic marking of 100 years since the Battle of Somme.
"The World War 1 committee is a group of stakeholders from a range of Thurrock organisations to look at celebrating and commemorating historic moments from our past. It includes Thurrock Council’s communities development manager, a cross party political group as well as former Councillor Robert Ray.
Other representatives include SSAFA, Thurrock Museum, the Tilbury Riverside Project, Burma Star, Thurrock Local History Society, Far East Veterans Association, Coalhouse Fort as well as others.
Although other councils may be witnessing the occasion of 100 years since the start of the battle in a single event, the committee choose to mark this special occasion with not only a 2-minute silence, but with a well-thought and well-researched free exhibition available for two weeks commencing on Friday 1 July.
The event is being hosted by Thurrock’s Museum Volunteers and special thanks to Diane Lee and the team at Thurrock Council’s Thameside Theatre.
"It is disappointing that despite the hard work so many volunteers gave in preparation for this exhibition, as well as the work on press releases and the distribution of posters, it is being suggested that Thurrock hasn’t done enough.
"It is even more disappointing considering that two out of four of our local newspapers didn’t run the story the week of the event.