Councillor Coxshall introduced
the report and stated that work had begun on this report in 2017
when he had been tasked with looking at all Council owned assets
and had developed the 3Rs policy of release, retain and reuse. He
stated that the asset review was not just about buildings, but was
centred on delivering good services, and being transparent with
residents. He explained that Thurrock worked to speak with tenants,
land owners and neighbours of those assets affected by the review,
and Members would always announce interests regarding these assets
to ensure maximum transparency. He stated that many of the
buildings due to be disposed of were decades old and not fit for
purpose, particularly when trying to deliver carbon neutral
buildings. He explained that the Council would use the money made
from the sale of assets to reinvest into services, and improve
services for residents. He thanked the Chief Executive and the
assets team for their hard work on the project.
Councillor Huelin echoed comments made by Councillor Coxshall and felt that the report not only reviewed buildings, but also began a conversation into reviewing services. She highlighted point 6.6.2 of the report and felt that although it was not economically viable to retain the building, the hot meal delivery service would continue, but from another building that was fit for purpose. She also highlighted the arts offer in Thurrock and stated that during the height of COVID, the Thameside team had worked hard to provide virtual engagement for residents, and felt that this highlighted how COVID had changed the arts offer. She explained that the arts had become more important during the pandemic, and felt that there were numerous other venues across the borough that could promote the arts, which was not limited to the Thameside. She added that proposals would be brought forward to Cabinet that would highlight the new arts strategy, and this report would open conversations with partners to build offers.
Councillor Coxshall added that he understood the importance of arts and culture for Thurrock, and this was outlined in the Council’s ‘work, live, play’ strategy, which would be discussed throughout the agenda. He stated that there were numerous other cultural hubs across the borough, such as the Opera House in Purfleet, the heritage hubs in Tilbury, and the leisure hubs in Grays. The Leader added that under regulations introduced in 2010, community interest groups could make a bid for the Thameside building. Councillor Spillman felt that the report highlighted that all options were still on the table, and up for discussion. He felt excited to see the changes being made in Grays, and felt it was developing from a shopping space to a leisure and entertainment space. He explained that the report would start a wider conversation into the arts offer, and development in Grays, such as the beach, would improve the area.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Declared the operational properties in 6.6 surplus to requirements, and would receive a report back, where applicable, on the future of the sites and any alternative delivery considerations.
2. Approved the immediate release and declared surplus the properties shown in Appendix 1.
3. Delegated authority of the disposal to the Corporate Director of Resources and Place Delivery, in consultation with the Leader and the completion of a delegated authority decision report.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in