Are Thurrock Council really interested in your views?

At this week’s meeting of Thurrock Council, the proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing were up for discussion for the first time since Highways England announced they would opt for Route C, running just west of Orsett, skirting round Chadwell St Mary to cross the river between Tilbury and East Tilbury. Feelings were running high at the meeting as campaigners against the crossing in the public gallery were prevented from asking questions and speaking: Thurrock Council meeting suspended after Lower Thames Crossing campaigners express their outrage

The Tory leader of the council, Cllr. Rob Gledhill, presented a report setting out the authority’s next moves and creating a Lower Thames Crossing task force to lead their response. The council claim they want to listen to the views of residents on the crossing, however when George Abbott, the leader of the Thames Crossing Action Group requested to speak to the meeting, he was denied permission. The action group has over 9000 members on its Facebook page so it should have been considered influential enough to be allowed a voice at the meeting. The council didn’t see it that way and for reasons beyond us mere mortals, saw fit to deny George Abbott and other members of the action group a voice.

As you can see from the video clip in the Gazette piece, George Abbott was understandably not best pleased at being denied the right to speak to the meeting. Let’s just take a step back here and look at what Thurrock Council did… Despite claiming they want to listen to the views of residents about the crossing, they denied the leader of the action group the right to address the council. When George Abbott questioned that, the council meeting was suspended and security were called in to escort supporters of the action group out of the meeting.

To our eyes, this is the council wanting to control the narrative right down to the last full stop and comma and silence anyone asking difficult questions. This episode is not the first instance of Thurrock Council’s tendency to be control freaks. This is what we had to say a few weeks back about a proposal by the council to decide which news outlets could or couldn’t report on their proceedings: Thurrock Council in control freak mode

We can’t help coming to the conclusion that Thurrock Council’s objections to the river crossing are mere window dressing and that they’re coming under pressure from central government and the Tory MP for Thurrock, Jackie Doyle-Price, to not rock the boat. After the fiasco at these week’s council meeting our advice to the anti-crossing campaigners would be to not trust Thurrock Council as far as they could throw them…


Thurrock Council taking the p**s with flytipping letters

Here’s a classic case of Thurrock Council not being able to tell the difference between their arse and their elbow: Council apologises after sending letters demanding cash to clean up fly-tipping Okay, we know that the council have since claimed that the letters sent to residents in the London Road area of Grays were sent out in error but, when you look into the issue, they’re still taking the p**s…

The older areas of Grays have a fair few alleyways that will act as a magnet for fly-tippers. Taking rubbish to a site such as Buckingham Hill for disposal can be an expensive business and that leads the more unscrupulous elements in the area to conclude that fly-tipping is the best option for them. You only have to take a cursory tour around the back streets of rays or the country lanes to the east of Tilbury to see that fly-tipping is a big problem in Thurrock.

In the news item linked to above the leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr. Rob Gledhill (Con) stated: “However land owners are responsible for clearing their own land, and unadopted areas – such as some alleyways – are in general the responsibility of surrounding land owners”.

There are a few things that Gledhill needs to be made aware of… Firstly, it’s not always the case that the person residing at the address the letters were sent to would be the owner of the property. In the London Road area, a fair number of properties are rented so it’s the landlord that needs to be targeted. Even when the resident owns the property, the scale of the fly-tipping is beyond the capacity of most people to clear without professional help and equipment. Sure they could organise a community clean up but when it comes to convincing the orange hi-vis clad jobsworth at the tip that they’re not a commercial operation, they might just experience a few problems!

The point is that Thurrock Council have been made aware of the flytipping in the London Road area and should have had enough awareness of the problem to not send out the letters to residents in the first place. Actually getting down to the area and talking face to face to the residents whose lives have been blighted by this fly-tipping would give the council a fuller, more accurate picture of the issue. It can be the local councillor and / or council officials doing this – the point is that face to face contact is more likely to lead to a solution than sending out arsey letters. However, this would require a massive change in the culture of the council so they become more open, transparent and accountable. Somehow, we don’t think that’s going to happen this side of a major political and social transformation…

Last but by no means least, there are the scumbag fly-tippers themselves who have no concept of, and responsibility to, the community they operate in. Sadly, they are a reflection of the atomised society we have to endure where individualism is ranked higher than community solidarity and having any sense of responsibility to the neighbourhood you live in…