We’ve written a lot about the proposed rebuilding and extension of the Thurrock Council Civic Offices in New Road Grays – this is one of our more recent pieces: Could this be a result? Tonight (Thursday 15.8), despite senior council officers recommending approval for the scheme, at a meeting of the planning committee, councillors rejected the proposal: Planning councillors reject authority’s proposal for civic offices rebuild. It’s heartening to know that there are enough councillors who have listened to the views of the residents and also of the businesses affected by the proposal, who have the independence of mind to reject it.

This has to be seen as a battle won and a victory for people power in the long war of attrition to defeat this hubristic vanity project. However, despite this victory, the war isn’t over and it would be premature to declare a full victory and crack open the champagne. The reason being that as the decision of the planning committee was against the advice of council officers, protocol dictates that the application has to come back before the next meeting of the planning committee where councillors will have to back their decision to reject it.

If anyone thought that councillors had the last say on matters like this, sadly, this isn’t the case. We asked the question about who really runs Thurrock Council in November last year: So…who’s really running Thurrock Council? The same applies to pretty much all local authorities where a rigged system allows senior council officers to wield a disproportionate amount of influence. The fact that yet again, this proposal has to come back for further debate when it’s clear there’s considerable opposition to it raises some serious questions about so called local ‘democracy’.

So yes, an important victory has been won but the battle has yet to be concluded. If the proposals are eventually binned, it will mark a victory for residents and those councillors who care for them against the arrogance and hubris of ruling group councillors and senior officers. May that day come soon…