A NUMBER of opposition councillors made impassioned speeches at an emergency meeting of Thurrock Council on Monday night.
Whether they were Labour or independent, their sober tones were more reminiscent of people making victim impact statements in court rather than local councillors.
The speech by Independent councillor for The Homesteads,Gary Byrne can be found below courtesy of Thurrock Nub News.
The Labour councillors kept it brief, but the hurt was there. This was best described by West Thurrock and South Stifford councillor, Lee Watson, as she told the chamber that it took her years to become a councillor. A duty she held dear and was and is honoured to be in that role.
Labour’s Cllr Martin Kerin said: “What we have heard is catastrophic for the resident of Thurrock. The debt will be settled on our residents for decades to come.
“Because of Tory incompetence the debt has gone up £490,000 for every day the administration opposite has been in charge of our borough.
“The real tragedy is that they were warned many times about this but refused to heed the warnings. A mixture of farce, hubris and downright arrogance.
“The team opposite us are not a new broom, to sweep and clean the mess. They have wrecked the house and are offering to clean it up.”
Labour’s Cllr Lee Watson gave an emotionally charged address, saying: “I can’t promise my residents whether they will get their grass cut, their streets cleaned or get a swing park.
“They face extreme council tax increases. I am livid and angry that I have to stand here today in a council that I really love that has gone bankrupt.”
Another Labour member, Cllr Cathy Kent, told how she had been given false reassurances as chair of the finance overview and scrutiny committee and questioned the role and accountability of Cllr Coxshall, saying: “Why has the leader, when all the time he sat on cabinet, never questionned?
“It appears he didn’t ask a single question about the security of investments.”
And another angry and charged Labour councillor, Victoria Holloway said: “In the nearly 12 years I have been a councillor, we knew there was something not right and it gives me no pleasure that we have been vindicated, I am angry and outraged and that doesn’t get any less the more I read.
“Our calls for financial transparency fell on deaf ears, the more secretive it became the more we feared and we were right.”
Addressing Conservative councillors she concluded: “We have spent months and years trying to get to the truth but you described our actions as an embarrassment. You laughed at us and had the audacity to dismiss our concerns. You will try to create a narrative saying that we were aware of this but you purposely blocked us as an opposition and slandered us calling us liars and scaremongers.”