THE new leader of Thurrock Council has promised a new era of openness, transparency and honesty.
Mark Coxshall was voted in as leader for a four-year period following the resignation of former leader Rob Gledhill in the wake of financial scandal that has rocked the council.
Speaking as Thurrock’s long-awaited new council chamber was used for a full council meeting for the first time on Thursday, Mr Coxshall said: “I’ve accepted the leadership of the council because we are in grave danger. I still believe in Thurrock’s greatness and we need to make good decisions from now onwards.”
Mr Coxshall said he would be leader of all 49 councillors and there would be “greater democracy and greater accountability is the aims of my new administration”.
He added: “There’s no hiding from it We’re in great difficulty and I’m sorry for this but we now need to put things right. I can’t pretend it will be easy, quick or fun and it won’t be but I can say with your help I will do my best to put things right. This will be a new era of openness, transparency and honesty. “
An investigation into hundreds of millions of pounds of dubious investments is under way and opposition leader John Kent, took the opportunity to grill the administration on alleged payments made to a solar energy company owned by Liam Kavanagh, as highlighted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Mr Kent said: “Can the portfolio holder explain what these were for?”
Graham Snell, councillor responsible for finance, acknowledged the payments were made but said: “This is subject to an ongoing investigation. There are things that are particularly sensitive. We must be careful of saying anything that might prejudice action that may be taken. Let’s wait for the investigation and see what comes out of it.”
Mr Kent said: “We know we’ve ended up in a pretty catastrophic financial place and those of us who have been warning about this for some years have been stone-walled, falsely reassured. We’ve been lied to, fobbed off and misled
“This evening the leader of the council said he wants the new administration to set and example of openness, honesty and transparency. I’ve got to say we’ve had precious little of that so far.”