Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 14th November, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms 2 & 3, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of Cabinet held on 10 October 2018.


The minutes of the Meeting of Cabinet held on 10 October 2018 were approved as a correct record.


Items of Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


The Leader began by stating that one urgent item had been received, which was the Monitoring Officer’s report on whistleblowing allegations. He apologised for the lateness of the report and explained this was because the necessary information had only been received at the end of last week and officers had then had to check it. He described that two whistleblowing allegations had been received, one in January 2018 which related to recruitment and HR matters, and one in August 2018 which had been received by the CEO in September 2018, and related to an in-depth Children’s Services case. The Leader continued by stating that the Monitoring Officer had reviewed and assessed both cases, and then passed on to an independent barrister who was a specialist in child social care and had received unrestricted access to all files relating to the allegations. He continued by mentioning that the files had been locked once the allegations had come to light so information could not be tampered or altered with. He also mentioned that the allegations were reported to Ofsted, who were kept fully appraised of the investigation and were happy with the work completed. He summarised and stated that the independent barrister had found both whistleblowing allegations unsubstantiated.

Councillor Collins commented that he felt pleased and relieved with the outcome that the allegations were unsubstantiated. Councillor Halden then discussed how six weeks ago Councillor Kent had resigned as Chair of Children’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee over this matter, as he had not received the whistleblowing report as fast as he would have liked. Councillor Halden described that he felt the Chair of an O&S Committee had many powers to discuss items such as the whistleblowing allegation, for example going into exempt session or calling an extraordinary meeting. He went onto mention that at the time of Councillor Kent’s resignation the information he requested was not available as the investigation was still ongoing. Councillor Halden felt that this tarnished the council’s reputation as the top Google search was the resignation, and this could harm retention rates of officers, whom he felt worked hard and should be treated professionally. Councillor Halden then called for Councillor Kent to make a formal apology to officers. The Leader replied that he could not comment on the mind-set of other Councillors, but Members were there to do the best they could for the 160,000 residents of Thurrock. He described how Overview & Scrutiny Committees were designed to hold the Executive to account, and he felt resigning should have been a last resort. He felt that as Chair of an O&S Committee, Members have responsibilities and rules to follow, but there were ways of getting messages out. The Leader continued by stating he did not want officers to feel undermined, and they should take comfort in the fact an independent barrister found the whistleblowing allegations to be unsubstantiated. He felt that officers had acted appropriately, and this had been a learning experience. He then drew Members attention to point  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Declaration of Interests


There were no interests declared, although the Leader asked Democratic Services if this item could be placed above the item of urgent business in future.


Statements by the Leader


The Leader began his statement by discussing the Remembrance commemorations held across the borough on Sunday 11November. He mentioned that specialist cleaning had taken place and new planters installed on memorials in the area, and 834 poppies had been placed in cemeteries and memorials to commemorate every life lost from Thurrock. He went on to discuss the new railings that had been placed around the memorial in Grays, to stop it being a place of anti-social behaviour, and to restore it as a place of quiet reflection. He added that new signs would also be installed asking people to be respectful to the fallen soldiers. The Leader then detailed the £150,000 budget, and only £80,000 of this had been used, with the remainder of the money going into the maintenance of the memorials. He congratulated Thurrock Local Community Groups for their remembrance displays across the borough, in places such as Stifford, and discussed how the council were looking at areas where the displays could become permanent. He thanked the Director of Environment and Highways for all her hard work over the year to make the commemorations happen. He then described how officers had been working at 6am on Sunday morning clearing leaves and ensuring there was disabled access to the memorial at Turps Corner. He again thanked all staff and Member’s and felt they should be proud of all the hard work. He added he would be formally writing to officers to thank them again.

The Leader then moved on to discuss the new fibre optic broadband for 1,400 council tenants and commented that this produced the fastest internet speeds. He mentioned the council were working with the private company Hyperoptic to produce the gigabit internet connection, and stated that this agreement had been expanded to include 20 other council run areas. The Leader added that this would benefit both young families and older residents to improve connectivity, and proved that the council was investing in a ‘digital first’ approach so Thurrock was ready for the future.

The Leader then discussed the Lower Thames Crossing and the Highways England Consultation. He stated that the consultation was open until 20 December 2018, but that consultation documents were very detailed and felt Highways England were showing a lack of effort in making information accessible to people. He felt the consultation documents used highly complex language, and even the non-technical summary contained jargon and acronyms. He added that the easy-reading version was inaccessible as this was available on request, but that as Highways England had a 15 working days response time, residents would have to request these now. He added that the documents would only be translated for a very high fee, which again made them inaccessible. He commented that Highways England plans to build a large motorway through the borough, and that their story kept changing, for example what began as a ‘rest area’ in Tilbury had become a full service station. The Leader felt this was a terrible scheme which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Briefings on Policy, Budget and Other Issues


Councillor Watkins began by echoing sentiments made by other Members on the remembrance services and all the hard work that had been put in prior to the events to make them fantastic. He stated that he had attended the Ockendon Memorial and felt proud of the department and the work they had done. He stated that residents should also feel proud, and hoped those that had lost their lives would have been proud too. He then thanked the Environment and Highways Department, particularly Susan Newton, for all their hard work.

Councillor Watkins then moved onto the discuss how the council were trying to improve recycling rates in the borough, by introducing bin tags which would go onto contaminated bins that could not be collected because they contained the wrong rubbish. He discussed how the tags would include the reasons why bins could not be collected, and ways in which residents could get their bins decontaminated. 

Councillor Huelin thanked the WW1 Commemorative Committee for all their hard work on Remembrance Sunday and over the past four years, and pointed out that Remembrance events happened every year. She specifically thanked Natalie and all the volunteers with the WW1 Commemorative Committee, and described how she felt lucky to have been able to open the Memorial Event at the Thameside Theatre in Grays. She then discussed the important work that women and the Suffragettes had done during WW1, such as building a frontline hospital solely staffed by women, including every surgeon, nurse and doctor. She stated that this was one of the reasons why women had been allowed to enter the Royal College of Surgeons. She commented that although 1 in 8 men died during WW1, 1 in 5 women died doing dangerous work in munitions factories and in frontline hospitals. The Leader then commented that it was important to remember every year, and reminded Members that next year would be the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WW2. Councillor Collins added that he appreciated all the hard work put into the Remembrance events and thanked everyone. Councillor Little echoed these comments and felt pleased so many local residents had turned out for the commemorative events. She also added that officers had turned up to many of the commemorative events, even in rural areas such as Bulphan.


Petitions submitted by Members of the Public


There were no petitions submitted by members of the public.


Questions from Non-Executive Members


No questions had been received from non-Executive Members.


Matters Referred to the Cabinet for Consideration by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee


No matters had been referred to the Cabinet for consideration by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Further Transformation to Continue Improving Standards in Primary Care (Decision 110484) pdf icon PDF 353 KB


Councillor Halden introduced the report by stating this was good news as this report ensured work could continue on the programme until 2021. He stated that in 2016 only 2 GP’s in Thurrock had been rated as ‘good’, but now 21 out of 29 GP’s had achieved a ‘good’ rating. He commented that the UK and Thurrock had an aging population, as healthcare improved and people lived longer, this meant that care for long-term illnesses had to improve too. Councillor Halden went onto mention how this report improved standards of primary care and reduced variation across GP surgeries in the borough. He stated the council were working with the NHS to implement new scorecards, which 85% of GP’s had done, which would help with long-term health problems such as hypertension, but the ambition was for 100% of GPs to use the scorecard. Councillor Halden added that the scorecard was changing as it was no longer benchmarked with other local authorities, but now benchmarked internally. He also described how volunteer aided blood pressure checks were in place, which have been predicted to diagnose an additional 400 people with high blood pressure by the end of the financial year. Councillor Halden then commented that this was predicted to save an additional 20 people from a stroke.

The Leader declared that he was Chair of the Patients Participation Group at a GP surgery, but this would not affect his decision making ability on this item. He felt that the additional 20 lives saved from a stroke was a very good result, as strokes affected not only the patient, but their families too. He commented that this report was not just a financial report, but effected rehabilitation of patients and proved how the council were working with the NHS to improve public health. Councillor Halden then thanked the public health team as this was above and beyond their statutory obligations and showed how innovative Thurrock was becoming.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Approved progress, changes and additions to the programme of performance, improvement and support for primary care with linked demand management for hospital and adult social care services, as detailed within the paper.

2. Approved the continuation of funding for this programme throughout the financial years 2019/20 and 2020/21, and then reviews its impact.


Short Breaks and Support Services for Disabled Children (Decision: 110485) pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Little explained that this report was coming to Cabinet because it was above the £750,000 spend limit. She described that this report is a statutory duty for the council to improve the outcomes for disabled children and young people aged between 0 and 18. She explained that a procurement exercise needed to be undertaken to replace the current contract which expires in March 2019, and the contract aims to improve the health and wellbeing of disabled children and their carers by offering additional support. Councillor Little clarified that there were currently only two providers, but that she wanted more providers to increase competition, which would hopefully include activities outside the borough. She added that there was the option to increase the new contract for a further year if it was successful.

Councillor Huelin welcomed the report and stated that as the procurement process became simpler, the number of providers could increase as local volunteer groups could get involved to support young people and children with disabilities. The Leader reiterated the fact this was a serious report and disabled children should have access to activities that all children enjoy. He also felt it was good for able-bodied children too as they can interact with disabled children and learn how to help them.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Agree to the tender to provide Short Breaks and Support Services for Disabled Children with a term of 3 years and the option to extend for a period of twelve months be issued.

2. Delegated authority to the Accountable Corporate Director of Children’s Services, in agreement with the Portfolio Holder to award contracts to meet the assessed need and preferences of children and young people.


Approval to Increase the Current Scope of the Schools Capital Programme (Decision 110486) pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Halden introduced the report and stated that it would increase the amount invested in education by almost £7 million, and would facilitate the expansion at St Clere’s school and the Orsett Free School. He stated that the council were working with the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver difficult projects such as Thames Park School and Orsett Heath School, and whilst these projects were being finalised, this report would ensure there were enough school places for every child. He described how temporary accommodation at the Orsett Heath site would mean permanent buildings that would complement the school in the long term, for example expand the sporting element of Orsett Heath and their relationship with Thurrock Rugby Club. He added that £500,000 was being invested in a 3G pitch at Harris Riverside, and in rebuilding the nursery at Corringham Primary School. He added there were also plans to expand Benyon Primary in South Ockendon, to alleviate placement issues, rather than building a new school on the site at Brandon Groves. Councillor Halden felt that as all these projects were being undertaken at the same time, it was an impressive list of options. He added that in addition 90% of all schools had now received a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted, and the borough had seen an improvement in GCSE results, even with the difficulty in changes to GCSE marking and criteria.

Councillor Hebb continued that injecting money into schools, was injecting money into the future of the borough. He added that this report covered the entire borough such as Stanford, Orsett and South Ockendon; was multi-use as contained provisions for sporting facilities; and was multi-choice as parents now had a diverse market and could decide which school best suited them and their child’s needs. He directed Members to point 3.2.2 of Appendix 1 in the report, which stated that infrastructure was coming first in the St Clere’s project, as additional capacity was being placed on-site, rather than off-site. He felt that schools now were vastly improved from that of those 20 years ago, although the problem of pupil deficit still existed as those coming from primary to secondary school needed places, and capacity would have to expand.

The Leader was glad to see money being spent on the future, but without problems such as temporary demountables. He felt glad to see that Benyon Primary was expanding, rather than a brand new school at Brandon Groves, as this would have caused traffic problems in the area.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Approved the extended School Capital programme budget of £6,900,000 for St Clere’s and bulge classes for the new Orsett Heath Free School.

2. Approved the invitation of tenders in accordance with EU procurement procedures for a one year agreement for providing a Specialist Project Team, and Principal Contractor for a school capital programme.

3. That, following a selection procedure compliant with EU procurement regulations, the subsequent decision to enter into the contract be delegated to the Accountable Director reporting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.