Agenda item

Statements by the Leader


The Leader began his statement by giving thanks on Armistice Day and remembering those who sacrificed, which was particularly significant as this year marked the 75th Armistice Day since the end of the Second World War. He stated that remembrance had been different this year due to COVID-19, but that the Royal British Legion had ensured safe remembrance services across the UK. He explained that Reverend Cannon Darren Barlow of St Peter and St Pauls Church in Grays had made an excellent virtual service available online, which had already been viewed by nearly 200 people.

The Leader moved onto discussing the second lockdown, which had been implemented to bring the infection rate down, protect the NHS, and save lives. He stated that people should stay at home and only go out for specific reasons such as shopping for necessities like food and medicine; going to work where it is not possible to work from home; for students going to college or school, or for anyone to exercise. He urged residents to follow the month long lockdown and stick to the rules, after which he hoped the country would go into a new tiered system. The Leader asked people to work together to make sure that Thurrock comes out in the lowest tier, so that residents could visit family and friends again; open businesses; and play their part in getting the national economy back on track. He stated that since the start of the pandemic Thurrock Council had received more than £102millon from government to support residents, businesses and the Council through this period, which included £79million for local businesses in grants and business rates relief. He stated that this week Thurrock would also receive £523,004 from the government to provide support to help families with children, and other vulnerable households with food, energy and water bills.

The Leader then moved on and described how the Council were taking tough action on people who broke the rules. He gave the example of landowners on Buckles Lane who had been forced to pay tens of thousands in costs and return the greenbelt to its original state. He stated that due to the injunctions which had been granted to the land north and south of Buckles Lane, the Council were able to stop unapproved work, force the landowners to re-seed the greenbelt and pay tens of thousands in costs to cover the council’s legal bill. He explained that the Council would take action to tackle decades of unchecked development on the site, and stated he would take similar action if necessary to resolve the issue. The Leader also gave the example of a rogue landlord who had been forced to pay £18,000 in fines and costs after their company let undersized rooms to tenants. He stated that the Council had previously issued Civil Penalty Notices to the company, but the Council had seen no action and therefore took them to court to ensure the rights of residents to live in a decent home. He gave a final example of organisers of a Halloween Party in the Pilgrims Lane traveller site who now face large fine and possible evictions after they held a party for more than 50 people. He explained that the party organisers told police who saw them erecting a marquee that they would abandon the party, but simply moved the marquee to an area where they thought they could not be seen and continued with their plans. The Leader felt this was reckless and duplicitous, as the party organisers were given the opportunity to do the right thing. He summarised and stated that the Council would work with Essex Police to ensure they face the weight of the law.

The Leader then wished Councillor Huelin and Councillor Hebb good luck for their nominations in the Local Government Information Unit Councillor awards. He explained that Councillor Huelin was a finalist in the Community Champion category and Councillor Hebb had been shortlisted for the Finance and Economic Development category. He felt that both Members had done excellent work in their portfolios, which had been strongly impacted by the pandemic, and explained that they find out the results at a virtual award ceremony on 26 November.