On Tuesday 20.11, the Corporate Scrutiny Committee on Thurrock Council will see plans for a three story extension to the existing Civic Centre on New Road – this will house a new council chamber, confidential interview rooms and a cafe available for use by council staff and visiting members of the public. See here for the full story in the Thurrock Independent: Cost of planned Civic Offices redevelopment up by £1.8 million. The council were asked for a comment by the Thurrock Independent but at the time of writing, they have yet to reply.

Since the plans were announced in November of last year, the cost of the project has risen by £1.8million. Some members of the scrutiny committee are rightly questioning whether in a time of permanent austerity, this project actually delivers any benefits for the residents of Thurrock. It seems that the council will be getting a shiny new chamber in a building that’s only around thirty years old and in which there doesn’t seem to have been any issues with the council being able to conduct their meetings. Residents are rightly questioning why this project is needed.

This is coming at a time when Thurrock Council are struggling to deliver services for residents. What’s more important – getting the basics of delivering vital services such as social care right or a shiny new council chamber when the current one is more than adequate? Most sensible people would prioritise getting services right. Not so Thurrock Council who feel they can’t operate efficiently without spending money on tarting up their offices.

Yet again, this is another example of a local authority that has forgotten that they are supposed to be the servants of the residents, not their masters lording it over them from their shiny new offices. It’s yet another local authority that’s arrogant, unaccountable and out of touch with the residents they’re supposed to be serving. It’s not just an issue in our region – it’s symptomatic of a self serving political, economic and social system that’s beyond its use by date and needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.