THURROCK council has agreed to set aside £200,000 to kickstart the redevelopment of the “monstrous” Blackshots tower blocks.
Cabinet approved the cash to consult residents on the demolition and rebuilding of the three 11 story tower blocks and to carry out essential repairs on the existing buildings.
The council is undergoing a review of its finances by a Government appointed commissioner after a raft of ill-judged investments left it with a £469 deficit. Graham Snell, councillor responsible for finance warned that it was “not a given” that the commissioner would allow the redevelopment to go forward.
However, speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Luke Spillman, councillor responsible for Housing said: “Let’s do this. It’s time. We request the resource and means to make this happen.
“These towers are going to come down and they are going to be replaced by something better. That is my mission.”
Mr Spillman added: “We can waste a load of money refurbing them to a condition that isn’t going to be adequate because of the amount of refurb to take them to the quality that would acceptable.
“If we don’t do anything about it then the new housing regulations next year will take the question out of our hands. Doing nothing – not only is it immoral but it’s an absolute non-starter.”
Joycelyn Redsell, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Blackshots, said: “I don’t want any remedial work on the flats. They’ve gone past that. Councillor Maney and I have been fighting this for nearly 20 years and I’m fed up with them now. I’d go and knock them down myself if I could.
“We need to make this right. Residents deserve more than they are getting. They’ve been living like this for too long.”
Ben Maney, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Blackshots, added: “It is nice to see the council admitting that these towers, these monstrosities are not fit for purpose because for the best part of two decades I’ve been saying that. My very first surgery 22 years ago was a nurse living in these high rise flats who spent the entire surgery appointment crying. They weren’t fit for purpose then and from that point to now there’s been a never ending stream of enquiries or horror stories from people who are living in these properties.”