Agenda item

Statements by the Leader


The Leader began his statement by welcoming everyone to the first Cabinet meeting of the 2021/22 municipal year. He stated that this was the first meeting since March, and the first face-to-face meeting since 2020. He explained that due to the Forward Plan, the first municipal Cabinet meeting was typically shorter than others, but felt that the coming year would be exciting, with many new projects planned and underway.

The Leader then explained that in the last two weeks new play equipment had launched in two of the borough’s parks thanks to the Towns Fund scheme. He explained that new equipment had been unveiled at Grays Beach Riverside Park thanks to £750,000 from the Grays Town Fund Board, which meant that younger residents could now enjoy a new ship and castle, and the parkour outdoor sports, health and fitness area. He added that a new splash pad area, which had been funded by the Council, was also due to open this summer. He highlighted that residents in Tilbury could also enjoy a new outdoor gym, parkour equipment and running track at Daisy Field Park, which was one of many projects across the town to be boosted by fast-tracked funding from the Tilbury Towns Fund Board. He felt that these projects would continue to regenerate Tilbury and Grays, as the government and Council to invest in Thurrock.

The Leader stated that there were also numerous other projects underway across the borough, which included the new planning permission application to convert the old State Cinema in Grays into a pub. He stated that the plans had now been submitted, and felt that the re-development would open and preserve an iconic building in Grays, whilst creating a new hospitality venue. He explained that work was also progressing on the Civic Offices, with the majority of outside cladding now complete. He felt that this project would stimulate growth and redevelopment in Grays, whilst creating a new landmark and town centre housing. The Leader added that new bus stops were also being installed throughout the borough due to an investment of £1.2million, to try and encourage residents to utilise public transport. He stated that the smaller bus stops had now been installed, and the larger, electronic bus stops would be installed soon. The Leader explained that work was also progressing on the Manorway, with one side of the road completed and work underway on the west-bound carriageway. He described how this work would create a quieter road surface for HGVs and other traffic utilising the road for DP World London Gateway. The Leader stated that plans were also moving ahead on the Thames Freeport project, after a successful ASELA-backed bid, with Thurrock Council acting as the lead authority supporting the development of the Outline Business Case. He stated that the Freeport would create more than 25,000 new jobs, and would develop 1,700 acres of land with technologically advanced green business.

The Leader moved on and stated that central government would be making an announcement regarding the lockdown roadmap next week, and highlighted that everybody could play their part in preventing the spread of the virus. He urged residents to get twice-weekly COVID tests, which would help ensure lockdown restrictions are lifted as soon as possible, and keep families, friends, and communities in Thurrock safe. He explained that COVID numbers in Thurrock were currently low, with only 8.6 people per 100,000 testing positive last week, meaning Thurrock had one of the lowest COVID rates in the country. He added that the Delta variant, which had originated in India, was spreading across several areas of the country, and could pose a threat as it was far more transmissible than other strains. He stated that there had been a small number of Delta variant cases in Thurrock, and the Council were working hard to ensure it did not take hold and spread. He explained that the Council were carefully monitoring cases to ensure that testing took place to identify the Delta variant, and that advice was given to those who tested positive, as well as finding and advising their potential contacts. He summarised and stated that 30 residents had tested positive this week, with 3,923 PCR tests carried out; and a 7 day positive rate of 17.2. He stated that Thurrock was currently ranked 120 out of 149 local authorities in terms of COVID rates, and 139,019 vaccines had been administered: 86,700 first doses and 52,319 second doses.