The Mayor announced that Reverend Canon Darren Barlow had been appointed to the role of his chaplain.
The Mayor stated that it had been unprecedented times and hoped that everyone and their families were well and it was encouraging to see Thurrock had one of the lowest infection rates in the country and thanked all those that had complied with the advice that was being given in regards to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
The Mayor stated he had attended very few engagements since July and had continued to make donations to small local organisations that were helping ease some of the pressure on the national services that were feeling the pressure. The Mayor stated he was looking for ways to raise money for his chosen charity, G1FT, in these current restricted times and hoped to make some announcements shortly.
The Mayor paid tribute to Barry Palmer, a past mayor of Thurrock who had sadly passed away on the 16 July this year. The Mayor had attended his funeral where he paid his respects and acknowledged the fine work that he had carried out during his time as a Councillor. Members were asked to observe a minute silence in his memory.
The Leader also paid tribute to Barry Palmer and stated this was a great loss to Thurrock and particularly those East Tilbury residents who he had served for many years.
The Leader provided Members with a Coronavirus Update that over recent weeks nationally we had seen an increase in activity around coronavirus and it had been made clear we were not out of the woods yet. Unlike other areas of the country, Thurrock’s infection rate remained low, which was why it was even more important for all to keep playing their part in Thurrock. The Leader stated that it was thanks to residents’ sacrifice and dedication that the infection rate had been brought down before and stated that Thurrock had got what it takes to do it again. That the new restrictions announced by the Prime Minster were not as stringent as those introduced in March but stated that if we did not follow those guidelines we would expect more restrictions to get the virus under control. The Leader encouraged residents of Thurrock to continue to play their part by downloading the NHS COVID-19 App and continue to comply with the requirements of self-isolating should they test positive or show signs of the coronavirus. The Leader also asked residents to treat those mask exempt residents with kindness and respect.
The Leader stated over the last two months the Government had announced two reforms which would give local authorities greater autonomy and better opportunities to deliver significant growth which would benefit all residents. With the first planning reform outlined in a white paper published at the start of August which would streamline the planning process, cut red tape and harness new technology to ensure that vital homes and infrastructure could be delivered more quickly and in a way that benefitted local residents. With the current cumbersome planning laws it was high time for reform so Thurrock welcomed this proposal and encouraged all to look at the consultation. Secondly the reform to local government which would see local authorities getting more devolved powers from Westminster. In many ways here in South Essex, Thurrock had been ahead of the game forming the Association of South Essex Local Authorities three years ago to work together more collaborative across the South Essex Councils with this work already resulting in millions of pounds of Government money being invested into digital infrastructure improvements and assisting with strategic planning.
South Essex was the economic powerhouse and it provided a home to more than half the people in Essex in an area that covered roughly a fifth of the county but for decades had suffered an infrastructure deficit and stated that it was the right thing to do to go unitary to break away from Essex and be masters of our own fate. The Leader stated that South Essex worked and it had worked for the whole nation with a natural economic corridor encompassing three international ports, an international airport and home to more than 1,700 manufacturing businesses. With Thurrock already writing to the Government outlining their plans for South Essex which would contribute an additional £15 billion to the national economy by 2050. Thurrock had asked the Government to give the funding and powers needed to unlock the regions enormous economic potential. That Thurrock were looking at the best way we could work together to ensure a significant positive impact on residents’ lives in the future and that some powers were devolved from Westminster to the South Essex.
The Leader announced that over the past few weeks, Thurrock had successfully secured two High Court interim injunctions to protect greenbelt land north and south of the Buckles Lane site from further unauthorised development which had been an on-going issue but were now at the point to start and to move forward with further action. That a scaffolding company had been fined which had been blighting the lives of residents in Aveley by moving their lorries outside of permitted hours and stated that any businesses that were blighting the lives of Thurrock residents would be brought to an end if the Council had powers to do so under the planning regulations. The Leader thanked residents for reporting this kind of activity and encouraged everyone to let the Council know if they were being affected by out of hours HGV and lorry movements or other issues impacting their quality of life.
The Leader stated investments had been made to the Council’s foster carers by taking the Thurrock based carers out of council tax to encourage those to foster in the borough rather than foster through private agencies and would have their council tax reduced and encouraged carers to come forward and take advantage of the fantastic move forward for Thurrock and to help those that need to be fostered to stay in Thurrock.
The Leader provided an update on Clean It, Cut It, Fill It and that since the start of April 2020, Thurrock Council had:
· Filled 1,592 potholes
· Cleared 1,379 tonnes of litter from our streets
· Cleared 704 fly-tips
· Issued 1,652 fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour like spitting, littering and dropping cigarette ends
· 77 x £400 fixed penalty notices issue for fly-tipping
· 30 court cases for littering have already been successfully prosecuted but there are 125 more in the pipeline to be sent to Legal at the end of this month. A considerable number of offenders have requested extensions due to the pandemic and lockdown.
Councillor J Kent paid tribute to Barry Palmer who had served Thurrock for many years, stating he was a kind, generous and funny man who would be solely missed and passed his sincere condolences to his wife and children.