Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bonfire of capital projects will ‘rip the heart out of Thurrock’ 

A BONFIRE of capital projects in Thurrock will “rip the heart and soul out of the borough”, it has been claimed reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

The council has announced it is to jettison £119million of capital projects in order to claw its way back to financial stability following a string of failed investments that left the borough with mountains of debt.

A full council meeting on Wednesday heard £119million, with the associated borrowing of £62.9million, will be formally dropped.

The defunct schemes include a coastal path from Coalhouse Fort to Shoeburyness and Grays, south and rail station regeneration projects.

Neil Speight, Independent councillor for Stanford-le-Hope West abstained from a vote to sanction the cuts saying he couldn’t agree with all of them.

He said: “This just shows how we have ripped the heart and soul out of this borough. We have identified things that this borough needs and I think, too rashly, too quickly and without enough forethought we’ve made a decision.

“I think this is very sad landmark point in this council’s history that these key projects have been thrown out because of previous incompetence. It’s just shameful really.”

John Kent, leader of the Labour Group called the move “depressing”. He said: “As we move down that path to sustainability we concentrate on the various levers we have to pull, council tax increases, revenue savings, investment divestments and selling land and property, the one that has been sometimes overlooked is the capital programme.

“It’s dropping those projects this council can no longer afford and in many ways it’s one of the most depressing items we have here this evening.

“Things like the east facing slips on the A13 that we’ve been campaigning for for 25 years are now dropped. The relatively small amount of money for air quality modelling has been dropped. The money for the Tilbury integrated medical centre has gone. The Grays regeneration and underpass scheme has now gone. It’s a really sobering document.”

Graham Snell, councillor responsible for finance, human resources and payroll added: “There’s not a councillor here that wants to remove projects from the capital programme, things that Thurrock has needed for a long time but we are where we are.

“We’ve been trying our best to move on and look forward to the Thurrock of the future.”

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