We’ve already posted up a couple of pieces dealing with the opaque relationship between Thurrock Council and developers: Keeping us out of the loop while Thurrock is put up for sale and: Regional planning – keeping plebs like us out of the loop. Well, according to the Thurrock Independent, Tories from the ruling group on Thurrock Council have been hobnobbing with developers at an event held at Orsett Hall: Council’s relationship with developers is questioned again – is it all a Cannes of worms?

As a bit of an aside, the article from the Thurrock Independent is an example of the kind of investigative journalism we need in our communities. Journalism that asks questions and puts people and organisations on the spot. When it comes to the opaque dealings between local authorities and developers, there’s a lot of investigative journalism needed to unearth the sordid truth of what’s going on.

The meeting at Orsett Hall was organised by Meeting Place Communications, a consultancy that in their words ‘works with developers and communities to help achieve successful planning outcomes’. Corporate bullshit and spin. Yes, they do consult – legally, they wouldn’t be able to claim that on their website if they didn’t organise consultations in relation to development plans. It’s what happens between the public facing consultations and the final decisions of the local authority that needs to be open, accountable and transparent. The thing is, that process is anything but transparent because of the age old excuse of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

According to the report in the Thurrock Independent, the Tories in Thurrock have been accepting donations from builders and property firms. So, we have a situation where Tory councillors who are involved in drawing up the local development plan are members of a party that has been accepting donations from developers. To us, that screams ‘clash of interests’ at the maximum, ear splitting level. With the local elections coming up in May, the vote beggars will be out knocking on the doors. If one of the Tories comes to your door and you feel like having a little bit of fun, ask them about the donations they’ve been getting from property developers.

The relationship between Thurrock Council and 3 Fox International who were instrumental in organising the Thames Growth Day event last year was also put under the spotlight in the Thurrock Independent piece. Also highlighted is the fact that Thurrock Council will also be attending the MIPM market event in Cannes in March.

Murky, underhand and unaccountable. Ignore the bullshit about ‘consultations’, the real decisions that are being made about the future direction of Thurrock are being made in events that are closed to mere plebs like us. Yet again, this is more evidence that the system of local governance we have to put up with is dysfunctional and past it’s use by date. The question is, how much longer are we going to put up with charlatans in the pockets of the developers presuming they have some kind of divine right to run our lives?