Saturday, June 22, 2024

Senior Conservative councillor quits Cabinet

A THURROCK councillor, who stood down from his Conservative groups’ ruling cabinet on Wednesday evening’s full council meeting, has delivered a withering social media attack on his colleagues and Thurrock Council’s leadership.

Ockendon councillor Luke Spillman, who was the portfolio holder for housing, said nothing at the meeting on Wednesday, 24 May when a reshaped cabinet was announced – but within hours of it ending he published his letter to the authority’s new executive Dr Dave Smith.

It delivers a huge broadside at council officers and the administration, most damningly the council’s inability to provide an effective waste delivery service.

Cllr Spillman posted: “On the 9th May I met with cabinet to discuss the path forward in the aftermath of the local elections. 

“During that meeting I advised cabinet that, whichever group member was subsequently elected as group leader, I would be standing down.

“Being cabinet member for housing for two years has been a great honour. I’ve been able to realise and kickstart policies that I’ve campaigned on for many years. There have been frustrations and difficulties in equal measure along the way but I’m confident that I’ve given it my absolute best shot.

“Whilst a break from the two of three evening meetings a week and having a lot more ‘me time’ was an incentive, this is not my primary motivation. The real reason is that I’ve lost faith in the competence of senior staff at the council, and in the accuracy of the reports I am expected to make decisions upon.

“Like all councillors the realisation that we’ve been fed a financial fantasy over the last few years has been tough to take. It has destroyed my confidence in the decisions I’ve been asked to make, the papers I’ve read and voted upon, and the relationships I’ve had with senior staff.

“In contrast to this, the wonderful working relationship I’ve had with a number of superb officers within the housing department, and with other senior staff who stepped up, such as Ian (Wake) and Jonathan (Wilson), when the council’s day to day survival was on the line, served to restore some of this lost faith.

“However, the farce of the brown bins is the last straw for me. I will not be a public face of this level of incompetence. I’m done.

“In February, I was part of a cabinet that agreed a budget for this financial year that included a brown bin service. The continuation of this service was confirmed to cabinet by officers. By late April the budget put in place for the service had entirely unravelled and cabinet was informed that the service would be cancelled.

“I do not possess the level of cynicism required to believe officers presented a budget in full knowledge that they were misleading Cabinet, Council and the residents we represent.

“I can therefore only reach the conclusion that this is yet another example of the breathtaking incompetence that has plagued the senior leadership of this council for so long.  “This incompetence has undermined the democratic process.

“No one voted for the budget on the basis that the brown bin service would suspended. I do not believe the budget would have passed if members had been accurately informed.

“I cannot believe that any competent senior officer could consider that suspending the service entirely, for what will surely prove to be the best part of a year, is a remotely viable policy.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Councillor Spillman has written what most residents think and he is to be applauded for it not potentially castigated.

  2. Luke Spillman in 2021 said in council meeting: ” I have nothing but praise for Sean Clark (Former chief financial officer for Thurrock Council, and main architect of the disastrous investment strategy)”
    At the same time Gareth Davies at the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others such as Neil Speight, were ringing the alarm bells.
    Either Cllr Spillman didn’t know of the financial mess, in which case he is extremely gullible, or he did, in which case he is dishonest.

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