Councillor Hebb, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation, presented his portfolio holder report and stated that COVID-19 had put unimaginable impacts on the United Kingdom and thus residents of the borough. Councillor Hebb expressed his sympathy to all those families who had been impacted by the virus.
Councillor Hebb stated that now work needed to start on the structured plan to ensure the safe return to livelihoods and education of residents and thanked all key workers for their efforts and sacrifices made during this crisis.
The portfolio holder report had been structured to summarise the pre-COVID-19 performance of the department and economic resilience position; COVID-19 – the actions the Council had taken and helped delivery during the crisis and the emerging out of the COVID-19 crisis on building the Council’s economic resilience.
Councillor Gerrish stated that Thurrock had appeared on the Top 10 local authorities that would be severely impacted by the COVID-19 fallout. That this would be challenging for residents and businesses in the borough and questioned what the Council’s plans were to action this and when this would be actioned for the future. Councillor Hebb referred to the one-off £150 discount being allocated to each recipient of local council tax scheme. With long terms plans being discussed with the Councillor Coxshall, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, in regards to the Local Plan.
Councillor J Kent thanked all Council staff for helping to keep residents of the borough safe and particularly thanked Sean Clark and his staff in acting quickly and efficiently in supporting local businesses with the £20 million Government support. Councillor J Kent stated that one fifth of Thurrock local businesses missed out on that grant and questioned what was being done to support them. Councillor Hebb stated that £20 million Government money had been given to support those businesses in the borough. Councillor J Kent raised concerns that this would have an impact on Impulse Leisure who had already made redundancies and was potentially opening in the next two weeks. Councillor Hebb stated that discussions were taking place.
Councillor Byrne thanked Councillor Hebb for his help in supporting local residents.
Councillor Allen thanked the portfolio holder for the financial support provided to Thurrock residents and thanked senior officers in highways who had fix potholes that had been reported.
Councillor Duffin thanked the portfolio holder for the report and questioned the local council tax scheme for existing tax payers and for those going forward. Councillor Hebb stated the maximum of a one-off £150 discount being allocated to each recipient of local council tax support was a fit for purpose benefit.
Councillor Worrall raised her concern that there would be no new or further initiatives going to be put through TRL whilst Cabinet made a decision on the best models. That as chair of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee she had not been told of any of those plans, those 12 sites had been relied upon and there had been no business model. Councillor Worrall asked for clarification on how much of the original budget had been spent and on what. Councillor Hebb stated this was a firm commitment that the right model would be delivered and would go to Cabinet in the second half of this year.
Councillor Redsell thanked Councillor Hebb and his team on behalf of all the businesses that the Council had helped and questioned would the Council be worse off in regards to collection rates from business rates as a result of the new exemptions. Councillor Hebb stated that this would not impact the Council with grant being passed to the Council.
Councillor Hebb agreed to provide written responses to the remaining questions from Councillors Ralph and Abbas if they so wished.