LEADER of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill spoke today (Friday 2 September) about his first 100 days as Leader.
He said: “Today marks 100 days since we were voted to run the council and it’s a date I’ve thought about for a while.
“Environment was our biggest area of concern as this is what residents of the borough have consistently told us is not at the right standard. We implemented our Clean It, Cut It, Fill It agenda – meaning we were going to concentrate on cleaning our borough, cutting the grass and filling the pot holes – areas we felt had been grossly neglected.
“I’m pleased to say the three month, ‘Clean It’, pilot is going well – we have eleven additional barrow beats covering the borough. We’ve also completed two, week-long A13 overnight clear ups.
“We have visited 206 businesses and completed checks regarding their waste duty of care – of those, 66 have been unable to provide the right documents showing how and where they dispose of their waste – Most of these will be issued with fixed penalty notices.”
Talking about ‘Cut It’ Cllr Gledhill said: “Grass cutting is now almost back on schedule. Most parks are in a much better state and football pitches have been treated over the summer ready for the September season to begin.
Regarding ‘Fill It’, Cllr Gledhill said: “With the Â£110,000 Department for Transport grant money I’m very proud to see over 4,870 road defects – pretty good for 100 days. We absolutely know more needs to be done which is why we have identified a further Â£110,000 to fill more potholes across the borough over the next year.
“We are always keen to adapt and become more efficient – we are working with partners to explore how our existing vehicle fleet can be adapted to capture information about our highways to improve our responsiveness and the speed with which we take action.
It hasn’t all been easy – Cllr Gledhill explains: “We have faced some challenges in our environment area – Grays Beach Park, A1089 Dock Approach Road, crossing issues and the damage to our play equipment and fly tipping across the borough.
“Whilst I don’t have the answers to all of those problems yet, what I can say is we are continuing to put pressure on Anglian Water to fix their problems at Grays Beach Park. We are continuing to put pressure on Highways England to not backtrack on their decision to close the lay-bys and clean the roadside.
“We are just days away from the second congestion task force group which has been set up to tackle traffic across the borough with influential partners – and we are looking at installing preventative measures in areas which have been victim to arson and fly tipping in the last year.”
Discussing Education and Thurrock’s children, Cllr Gledhill said: “Our A Level results remained good – and our GCSEs have improved on last year. There is still more to do – but I’m confident the right team is in place and I am looking forward to a year on year improvement next August.”
Unauthorised encampments have blighted Thurrock in recent months, but Cllr Gledhill is pleased to see so much more is being done now than previously.
He explained: “In the past, there appeared to be a fairly relaxed attitude towards illegal encampments – 10 working days to turn around encampments however big or small.
“I’m very pleased to say that that is no longer our default position, our first question is does this encampment satisfy the necessary remits to use stronger powers to move encampments on more quickly? We also now have an efficient approach to ensure the area is re-secured and cleaned quickly after the encampment has left.”
“I’m also very pleased to say that Essex Police and the council are completely in sync regarding the encampment issue. This strong partnership approach has been brilliant and I’m keen to ensure this new way of working is continued.
Talking about his own portfolio, Housing, Cllr Gledhill said: “We are working with contractors to tackle damp in a much more cohesive way – looking at the cause of the problem rather than just painting over it. We have also set new targets for our contractors regarding missed appointments – in previous contracts this was set at 10 per cent but now it is at just five per cent.”
Looking towards the next 100 days, Cllr Gledhill said many challenges still faced the Local Authority, but perhaps the biggest is the looming decision of the new crossing.
“We as a council – regardless of political party – remain unanimously opposed to any additional crossing in Thurrock. We have made that extremely clear to all the decision makers. We are told to expect a decision at the end of this year – we hope for a pleasant surprise, but if not, we will work with residents on deciding our next steps.”