Where East Thurrock United want to move to

East Thurrock United’s current ground

Here we go again, Thurrock Council officers going in the opposite direction to local ward councillors. This time, it’s over the move East Thurrock United FC want to make from their current ground at Rookery Hill in Corringham to the Billet playing fields in neighbouring Stanford-le-Hope: Council set to reject football club’s bid to move to new ground and sports site.

The club want to build a state of the art community stadium., a social facility and three other pitches alongside it. This would be through a community based and community owned non-profit organisation with a tie in the the Karis May Darling Foundation in Corringham. Basically, this is pretty much everything you would want a community focused, non-league club to be doing.

Thurrock Council offered the land to East Thurrock United FC back in 2014. Despite the local ward councillors supporting the proposed move and development, council officers now look set to reverse that decision, claiming that the land is needed for a new cemetery. The football club submitted their plans six months ago and since then they have heard zilch back from the council.

The Thurrock Council cabinet is due to meet next Wednesday to consider the report submitted by council officers which recommends rejecting the scheme. What sticks in the throat is the council officers not engaging in any meaningful way with East Thurrock United FC before coming up with a report recommending rejection. All we can hope is that the football club are managing to make progress in looking at other potential sites in the area and that the council don’t frustrate these plans as well.

Yet again, this is another example of council officers over-riding ward councillors, dedicated community focused clubs and organisations, and residents. How many times do the council – the senior, non-elected officers in particular – need to be reminded that they are supposed to be the servants of the people, not their unaccountable, unapproachable masters?

Some commentators still bemoan the low turnouts at local elections. We’d like to suggest they take a really close look at how local councils operate. Most people can see what goes on with their local councils with unelected, unaccountable senior officers pulling the strings of the councillors and conclude there’s sod all point in voting. Somehow, we get the feeling that this state of affairs will not be continuing as it has been…