Thurrock Independents Cllr Peter Smith was last night (17/9/18) re-elected for a second term as the Chairman of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force.
Cllr Smith said: “I’m delighted to be given the opportunity once again to steer this cross party group with its ambitions to oppose this project whilst at the same time securing the best of best outcomes for the residents should this crossing be forced upon us.
Thurrock Independents Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spillman said “To encourage the smooth running of the council, officers give their time, to facilitate joint meetings between the leaders of each of the three political groups. Three of meetings of this type are scheduled covering the general governance of the Council, Council’s spending review and the Local Plan.
“However, despite being a minority administration, backed by just one-in-three Thurrock voters, the leadership of the Conservative Administration are failing to attend these meetings. Our Deputy Leader, Cllr Jack Duffin, and I, were the only attendees at last Council Spending Review meeting. Only I and the Labour leader, Cllr John Kent attended the last Group Leaders Governance meeting. A substitute was sent to fill in for the Conservative Council Leader. I was the only representative from the leadership of all three groups to attend last night’s vital Local Plan meeting.
Thurrock Labour made a public and private commitment to work with us, and the new Orsett Hospital Action Group, to save Orsett Hospital. We are therefore disappointed to discover Thurrock Labour, sabotaging these efforts by, continuing to mislead voters in their literature about our position on the Hospital.
Thurrock Independents Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spillman said: “On the 13th July 2018 I met with the Thurrock Labour Leader and agreed to work together, with the newly formed community action group, to try to save Orsett Hospital. Yet within just one month, Thurrock Labour have breached that agreement.
The Thurrock Independents are extremely saddened to report that Thurrock Council are now housing homeless families permanently outside of the borough.
Thurrock Independent Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spillman, commented: “It has been confirmed to me, at a senior level, that Thurrock Council’s homeless team are now actively housing homeless families in permanent housing outside of the borough.
The Thurrock Independents are incredibly concerned about Thurrock Council’s decision to blacklist the Thurrock Independent Newspaper.
Thurrock Independent Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spillman, said: “This is a deeply worrying step by Thurrock Council’s minority Tory administration. An administration that continues to show breathtaking arrogance and contempt for democratic scrutiny. Now we see the Tories banning newspapers! Someone needs to remind them that this is Thurrock not North Korea.
Thurrock Independents Deputy Leader, Cllr Jack Duffin said: “It is disappointing that the Conservative Administration take so much pride in increasing Council Tax by 10% over the last two years. I wouldn’t call that self-sufficiency, I would call that building on the backs of the poorest.
“The Tories should be apologising to local people for having failed to make a single long term investment since they came to power in 2016. Rather than build a portfolio that could create £40m a year profit for the Council they have priorities tax rises and then brag about them in the Council chamber. Thurrock Independents would make sure we build a sustainable long term investment strategy that the other parties have failed to do. Many Council’s around the UK are years ahead of us and it is time Thurrock moved with the times.
The Thurrock Independents are demanding that Thurrock Conservatvies immediately return the £35,500 they have received in donations from building/property related firms since 2015. A failure to do so will shatter public confidence in the delivery of any Conservative Local Plan, which seeks to force 32,000 homes upon Thurrock.
Thurrock Independents Spokesman said: “This shocking conflict of interest, right at the very heart of the administration, leaves the Tories appearing entirely compromised. A Local Plan must be have the confidence of local residents. However, how can any resident have the confidence that the Conservative administration at Thurrock Council will prioritise the needs of residents above the interests of builders and developments? If the Conservatvies want to be a trusted custodian of the Local Plan then they must, return this money, and agree not to take any future donations from property related companies.
Thurrock Independents are deeply concerned that the decision to close Orsett Hospital was not based upon any clinical need. Furthermore, the report breaches promises, assurances and guarantees made by the Thurrock Tory Cabinet Member for Health that all services from Orsett would be retained within Thurrock.
The report states that Orsett Hospital will remain open until the services are moved to new locations, but those new locations are not guaranteed to be in Thurrock:
15.1 Approve the relocation of services currently provided at Orsett Hospital to a range of locations within Thurrock, Basildon and Brentwood, enabling the closure of Orsett Hospital.
15.5 Note that, in accordance with the agreement between Thurrock CCG, Thurrock Council and the three mid and south Essex hospitals, the Orsett Hospital site will not be closed until the new services are in place at the agreed new locations.
Thurrock Independents are shocked and disappointed with the letter we received from Thurrock Labour today. We challenged Labour to step up to the plate and prove that they were willing to take responsibility for the Orsett Hospital promises they had made during the local elections to residents.
Thurrock Independents Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spllman said: “I, like any sensible observer of the closure process, understand that it is essential that we have a Council which opposes the closure, rather than a Council which supports the closure. It is a matter of great sadness to me, to see Thurrock Labour’s great Orsett Hospital betrayal fully exposed.
On the 28th February 2018 Cllr Spilllman asked the following question at Full Council: ‘Can the portfolio holder assure me that areas outside the borough, known to be rife with prostitution, drug use and associated crime, will no longer be considered suitable locations for the temporary housing of homeless Thurrock residents?’ The then Tory Mayor called a halt to the questions session before the question could be fully answered.
Thurrock Independents have since come across further such cases. We have also seen the Homeless Department housing extremely vulnerable families, against the advice of specialist professionals, in known Antisocial behaviour and crime hot spots within the borough.
Thurrock Independent Party Leader, Cllr Luke Spillman said: “I am absolutely appalled that Thurrock Council can possibly regard placing an extremely vulnerable family, or children who may have been previously subject to intervention from Children’s Services, in such areas. In doing so we are exposing some of the most vulnerable individuals in this borough to harassment, violence, gang crime, drug abuse and possible sexual exploitation. I call upon Thurrock Council to complete an urgent review into this awful practice.