Tory-run Thurrock Council refuses call for fresh consultation on £10m civic office plan

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OPPOSITION Labour councillors have hit out at Thurrock Council for refusing to hold a second consultation on acquiring a piece of land that would allow for the redevelopment of council offices.

Thurrock Council held a three-week public consultation on the acquisition of Mulberry Square in the middle of April and claimed in a recent cabinet meeting that the fact only one response was received shows “public support” for £10 million plan.

But Labour councillors have said they are “furious” that the Conservative-led administration has refused to run the consultation again.

The opposition party has highlighted several areas where they feel the original consultation was “flawed”. This ward councillors not being informed of the consultation taking place, no social media advertisement and the consultation was too short.

Labour says that by refusing a re-run of the consultation, “Thurrock Council has shown itself to not be interested in meaningfully consulting with local people”.

Councillor Tony Fish said: “Once again, we find ourselves facing a Tory-led Thurrock Council that is intent on denying my residents a meaningful say.

“The question I have is, what have they got to hide?

“Mulberry Square is a very special corner of Grays.

“To sneak in a flawed consultation, knowing how local people really feel about it, is simply appalling.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Thurrock Council to ask why another consultation was not possible and whether anything would be done to address the concerns that have been raised.

They did not respond.

The acquisition of Mulberry Square is key to Thurrock Council’s plan for new offices on New Road, Grays. The authority aims to split the existing office in two, with one half being converted into flats and the other half which is closest to Mulberry Square being redeveloped and extended.

The extension will be built on top of Mulberry Square.

Residents of Seabrooke Rise, which is located near to the civic offices, say they were not included in the consultation.

Richard Suttling, chair of Seabrooke Estate Residents Association, said: “Thurrock Council know how we all feel about this £10m monstrosity.

“That’s why they’ve made it as awkward as possible to participate in the consultation.

“We have repeatedly invited the leader of the council and the portfolio holder for regeneration to our meetings.

“They have never accepted our invitation.

“To sneak this consultation in during lockdown and deny us our day is disgusting.”

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