By Local Democracy Reporter
IT has been revealed that council leaders will not make a final decision on whether to scrap plans for the redevelopment of the council offices until September.
Councillors voted last month that the £10million redevelopment of the Civic Centre, dubbed by many as a “vanity project”, should be abandoned as the Conservative administration has failed to sufficiently demonstrate how it will be beneficial to residents.
The project’s future now lies with the council’s cabinet which needs to decide whether to go along with the democratic vote to abandon the plans or continue.
A final decision was expected to be announced at the cabinet meeting next week but the council has now said that there has “not been time” to bring the decision to the meeting and it will instead be on the agenda for September, following the council’s summer break.
They did not confirm whether money will continue to be spent on the project over the next two months, despite the possibility of it being scrapped. In June, the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed that the council has already spent half a million pounds on the project despite not having a business case or planning permission.
Councillor Jane Pothecary, leader of Thurrock Labour, tabled the motion to abandon the plan at the June meeting and said she hopes that when the cabinet does discuss the plan they will consider the “the importance of democracy and accountability”.
She said: “I would hope the Conservative Cabinet will reflect on the majority feeling within the chamber and abandon the proposal.
“The plans will still have to go before Planning Committee for approval and I believe we have a strong case based on the hugely detrimental effect on local residents and the heritage of Grays south.”
Conservative councillor and cabinet member, Mark Coxshall, defended the plans at the June meeting, saying that there is “no better time to move our plans forward”.
He explained that selling part of the existing building and extending the other will allow for “much-needed homes in the town centre” and avoids having to build on green belt land.
In response to objections from residents, he told the council chamber: “I hear that the civic offices don’t matter to residents, and they ask me why, and I don’t think it is a priority for residents, but we are here as leaders to say what is best.”
The final decision is expected to be made at the cabinet meeting on September 4.