The News Editor of Thurrock Nub News, Neil Speight, has written a comment piece about the botched ‘re-development’ of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope: Derailed station project is back on track says council director in report to scrutiny committee that appears to rewrite history and glosses over increased costs. Trust us, this piece is well worth reading because it illustrates the kind of shite Thurrock Council thinks it can fob its residents off with.

Next week, there will be a meeting of the council’s Planning, Transport Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee. At this meeting, they will be presented with a report on what’s (not) happening with the project from Anna Eastgate, Assistant Director of Lower Thames Crossing & Transport Infrastructure Projects. A post that pays £100,000 a year. That’s a pretty decent whack for amongst other functions, writing utter bullshit.

The original completion date for the re-development of the station was September 2019. Anything beyond that date has to be seen as a failure. Granted, the lockdown has added to the delay but the point is, the project was way behind schedule before a substantial chunk of the economy was shut down back in March.

We don’t have a new ‘state of the art’ railway station and transport hub. We have what resembles a bit of a demolition site with a few ‘temporary’ structures dotted around to ensure the station can function after a fashion. One ‘temporary’ structure, the ticket office, is located on the other side of a busy main road from the access to the platforms! All because someone sanctioned the demolition of many of the existing station buildings before the plans and costings for the new station were finalised.

Right, onto why we and a fair few other people think Ms Eastgate’s report is bullshit. Firstly, she has glossed over the numerous failings and re-written history by altering the scheduled completion date: “There are no delays with the programme currently as the original proposed completion date was August 2021.” If you think that attempt to bluff us is bad enough, try this for size: “The original budget for the scheme was £19.09m which includes an additional £4m approved by Cabinet in February 2019. The scheme is currently in development and as the detailed design is progressed, the cost model will also be developed to provide an out turn forecast. The scheme is currently projected to be delivered on budget and is being brought forward in consultation with feedback from local residents and other stakeholders who are all supportive of the direction of travel based on the information shared so far. Whilst the pause and reflect has removed some float from the programme, the inconvenience experienced by users of the station as a result of a pause in construction activity, will be outweighed by the much needed and improved facilities that will be delivered as part of this revised scheme.” Yes, like us, you may well have to read through this a couple of times before you can tease out what it’s trying to communicate!

Basically, the new station will get built by August next year to a new budget of £19 million which is significantly over the original estimate. This is the same piss taking council that thinks it can get the civic offices in New Road Grays revamped and extended for just £10 million. Thurrock Council officers and councillors are supposed to be the servants of the residents – in an ideal world that is! We live in a deeply flawed and increasingly dysfunctional world. One telling symptom of that is self serving local authorities who think they can bullshit their residents and get away with re-writing history to gloss over their screw ups. The question is, how much longer are people going to let then get away with this before something gives?