As part of our mission of exposing the malfunctions and absurdities of local government, we’ve already written two pieces on the stalled ‘re-development’ of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope, a project that’s being overseen by Thurrock Council: Thurrock council…another communication breakdown and: Communication breakdown… Well, there has finally been a ‘development’ but it’s not one any of us who regularly use the station wanted to hear: Work begins on temporary additions at Stanford station.

Yes, you read it right – a number of ‘temporary’ structures will be put in place at the station to provide a bit more in the way of facilities than are currently available. Suffice to say, Thurrock Council are being tight lipped about their long term plans for the station. Embarrassment at having made an absolute pig’s ear of the pre-planning and massively underestimating the costs perhaps? When we hear the word ‘temporary’ in relation to infrastructure, we get a bit nervous. This is down to other examples of ‘temporary’ that ended us as anything but, such as the ‘temporary’ flyover at Gallows Corner in Romford: Heritage: Gallows Corner ‘temporary’ flyover nears 50th birthday.

The planned ‘temporary’ structures include a ticket office in the car park. Between the car park and the railway station is the busy main road that runs through Stanford-le-Hope. All we can say is f*** knows who did the risk assessment for this one! The work on the installation of these ‘temporary’ structures is being undertaken by Henderson and Taylor (Public Works) Ltd. who are also the contractors on what may locals see as the botched installation of new traffic lights at the junction of Stanford Road and Buckingham Hill Road. What could possibly go wrong with their involvement with Stanford-le-Hope railway station? Nothing to see here, just move along…

Here’s the real kicker, Cllr. Mark Coxshall who is the lead for regeneration has described the council’s management of the project as a ‘bit of a mess’ and has had trouble finding out what his officers’ plans are for the station. Let’s translate this – the senior officers are keeping vital information about the (lack of) progress on the scheme hidden from the councillor who publicly promised the people of Stanford-le-Hope a shiny new state of the art railway station.

We’ve written more posts than we care to remember about the power, unelected, unaccountable senior council officers wield here in Thurrock. It’s not just Thurrock though – we’ve heard some horror stories from community activists and campaigners we know down in Southend. In fact, it’s endemic across the vast majority of local authorities. Senior council officers only tell councillors what they think they should know. So if a councillor is not in full possession of the information needed to make properly informed decisions and have to rely on ‘guidance’ from senior officers, then it’s yet more proof that local democracy is a sham.