By Local Democracy Reporter
A GROUP of Labour councillors who represent Grays Riverside have hit out at plans to extend Thurrock Council’s civic offices after planning officers said the scheme should be granted planning permission.
The £10million plan will be discussed during a planning committee next week and the council’s planning team said in a report that any negatives caused by the development are largely outweighed by the benefit to the public.
However, details of what those benefits are have been limited and calls from the council’s overview and scrutiny committee for a detailed business case have been ignored.
The discussion on whether to approve the plans is also taking place before the council’s cabinet meets in September to discuss a motion that called for the plans to be abandoned.
Labour Councillors Martin Kerin, Tony Fish and Jane Pothecary said in a statement: “At June’s meeting of Thurrock Council, a majority of councillors agreed with us that this project is a monstrous waste of money.
“Grays is crying out for investment and regeneration, yet this substantial sum of £10million is proposed to be spent on something which is not wanted by the residents of Grays Riverside who we serve.
“We are yet to see a cast-iron solid case for this significant use of public money. We hope that Planning Committee will see sense and throw it out.”
Councillor Jack Duffin of the Thurrock Independents and vice-chair of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee said councillors have been “crying out” for a business case that justifies spending the “absurd sum of money”.
He added that while the majority of councillors voted in favour of a motion to scrap the plans it is being ignored by the council.
“There is a false consensus that anyone other than cabinet members matter,” he said.
“Every motion is toothless as it is only asking the cabinet to do something but nothing actually changes.”
Conservative Councillor Mark Coxshall, who oversees regeneration, was asked to comment on the planning team’s recommendations but he did not respond.
Council leader Councillor Rob Gledhill declined to comment as the planning permission is yet to be granted.
The planning application for the civic offices will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday, August 15.