A few days ago, we wrote this piece about Thurrock Council railroading through their plans for the expansion of the civic offices in New Road, Grays: The supreme arrogance of Thurrock Council. It would appear that there’s still some hope this hubristic vanity project will get stopped in its tracks as opposition Labour councillors have ‘called in’ the cabinet’s decision to go ahead with the scheme for review by the full council: “Allow us to make our voices heard” is residents’ plea as latest move by ruling group to push through new civic offices plan angers opposition.

The grounds for the calling in the proposal for review relate to the way the ‘consultation’ over the scheme was conducted by Thurrock Council. A ‘consultation’ that was far from being full, open and above all, well publicised. The ‘calling in’ has been backed up by the Chair of the Seabrooke Estate Residents Association, Richard Suttling, who said: “My neighbours and I can’t believe that the council are celebrating the lack of responses to the consultation. Everyone knows how local people feel about this monstrous waste of money. What makes it even worse is the fact that the residents of Grays hold Mulberry Square so close to their hearts. We call on the Council to engage with us and allow us to make our voices heard.”

This was Thurrock Council’s response to the request from Labour councillors for a ‘call in’: “The council will consider the call-in request in line with the constitution and respond in due course.” It will be the senior council officers who will consider this and make their decision accordingly. It’s bad enough when councillors on the cabinet make decisions but at least in theory, they’re accountable to the electorate. On the other hand, based on previous experience, the senior council officers at Thurrock Council appear to all intents and purposes to be accountable only to themselves.

We would like to think that the request for this ‘call in’ will be granted by the the senior council officers and this proposal can go to the full council for a review. However, even if this happens, with the number of so called ‘independent’ councillors who have defected to the Tory ruling group, this hubristic vanity project could still end up going through. Whatever happens, if anyone was in any doubt about how so called ‘local democracy’ is a sham that’s not fit for purpose, after this shitshow, those doubts should be eliminated once and for all. The question is, where do we go from this point when it comes to bringing power right down to the grassroots?