Thurrock Labour elect John Kent as new leader

John Kent Elm

THURROCK Council’s Labour Group has announced that their leader, Cllr Jane Pothecary, has stood down to spend more time with her young family.

She will continue to serve as councillor for the Grays Riverside ward and is succeeded by Cllr John Kent.

Cllr Kent paid tribute to Cllr Pothecary, saying “I would like to thank Jane for all her hard work as leader of the Labour Group. Juggling leadership, work and other council duties with a very young family is really tough and we all understand why Jane has decided to concentrate a little more on her family and we all wish her well.”

Cllr Kent also thanked council workers and community volunteers who are doing such a great job in very difficult circumstances during the Coronavirus emergency.

“I want to take this chance to put on the record my, and Thurrock Labour Group’s, immense gratitude to the men and women who are continuing to work in extraordinary circumstances to make sure the vulnerable are being cared for, to make sure that government help is getting through to local businesses, that our bins are emptied and streets cleaned – and so much more. Our council workers have really risen to the challenge. As has our community volunteers who are ensuring those vulnerable residents who are shielding are getting groceries and prescriptions delivered to them.

Cllr Kent stressed the importance of continuing a cross party response to the Coronavirus crisis, saying;

“At times of national emergency it is important we put political differences aside and work together to ensure we do all we can to help our community through this emergency.”

“I will make sure the Labour Group plays a full a role as it is allowed and that we bring forward suggestions that are designed to be helpful

“There are a number of issues that I want Thurrock Council to make rapid progress on;

“We need to increase the number of tests available to people. No one should be more than twenty minutes from a testing site but, at the moment, I can’t see any testing site in Essex other than at Stanstead Airport. Thurrock Council should work to identify land for a testing centre in the borough. Testing should prioritising health care workers and care staff to ensure they are safe and healthy and able to look after our loved ones

“As restrictions are lifted and we start to plan for life after lockdown the local economy will need all the help it can get to rebuild. We should be looking at a proper plan to support local businesses to rebuild.

“On active transport, we should be doing all we can to rise to the government challenge of creating safer cycling routes to help people get about as restrictions are lifted.

“I am very concerned at the huge number of children missing out on schooling. That lost time is critical and will hit disadvantaged children the hardest. I want to see a clear plan of action for helping make up for that lost learning.

“The council has temporarily housed, around, 14, people who were sleeping rough in Thurrock at the start of this emergency. It is fantastic they now have a roof over their heads but we need to know how we are going to make sure they are properly housed as restrictions are lifted.

“Finally, Thurrock Council needs to open up to democratic accountability and that means a return to council meetings. There has been no meeting for over two months – up and down the country councils are finding ways of holding, appropriately distanced, meetings and it is vital that Thurrock Council catches up.”

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