Agenda item

Questions from Non-Executive Members


The Leader stated that two questions had been submitted by non-Executive Members.

The first question was asked by Councillor Muldowney and read “Chadwell residents have had no opportunity to make their views known to Cabinet ahead of their decision on Item 12 tonight. Will the relevant Cabinet Member agree to consult with local residents before selling off the green fields opposite Cole Avenue?” Councillor Coxshall responded and explained that the land in question was farmland and would be offered as a sale to the farmer, to allow him to continue farming the land. He stated that there was currently no public access to the site, and Thurrock were not planning on selling the land for development, but were selling the land to increase investment. He felt that Thurrock Council should not own pubs, restaurants or farmland, and stated that the funds generated from the sale of these assets would be used to improve services, for example fixing potholes, and maintaining parks.

Councillor Muldowney thanked Councillor Coxshall for his answer and felt pleased to hear that the land would not be sold for development. She highlighted that once the land had been sold to the farmer, it would then be his decision as to what to do with the land, and continued use as farmland could not be guaranteed. She then queried what consultation had been undertaken prior to the decision to sell the land. Councillor Coxshall responded that as the land was not an operational asset, consultation was not required. He commented that the farmer already farmed the land in question, and would continue to do so. He stated that all Members would have a chance to decide which areas in Thurrock were developed as part of the Local Plan process and the call for sites.

Councillor J Kent arrived at the meeting at 7.22pm.

The second question was then asked by Councillor J Kent and read “back in January 2017, as the Leader of the Council, you said; “central to the future of Grays is the re-provision of a new, modern and fit for purpose theatre.” You went on to say; “to be very clear - Thameside will remain open until new provision is available.” Do you stand by that promise? The Leader responded that lots had changed since 2017, particularly with the onset of COVID, which had moved the Council into a budget deficit. He stated that Thurrock were therefore considering how services were delivered in future, and explained that the Thameside building was fifty years old and not currently fit for purpose. He stated that the building included many services, not limited to the theatre, and would require lots of capital investment to keep running. He added that Thurrock had also made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030, and Thameside did not meet this goal. He explained that Thurrock would continue to analyse its operational model over the coming months and would work with vendors to try and move operations to different buildings. He felt that a small theatre was no longer what was needed, and Thurrock would look into what could be provided across the borough. He summarised and stated that Thurrock would work with external partners to regenerate the cultural offer across Thurrock.

Councillor Kent thanked the Leader for his response and felt that Thameside was much more than a sum of its parts, as it was the cultural heart of Thurrock and included the library, museum, and theatre. He felt that it provided the cultural energy for Thurrock and urged Cabinet to look into ways of keeping it running, for example by using arts organisations or community enterprises. The Leader replied and stated that conversations were currently ongoing with a number of external partners, as well as with members of the Production Corridor, as part of a wider arts agenda across the south east. He stated that work would continue with partners to reform the service and make Thameside a centre that works for 2021 and in future.

Councillor Muldowney and Councillor Kent left the meeting – 7.26pm.