'Outraged' councillor says he is being gagged as he is not allowed to ask question about homes development plan

  Posted: 14.02.20 at 15:23 by The Editor

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A COUNCILLOR says he is being gagged by Thurrock Council as he seeks to keep a potential and controversial housing development in the public spotlight.

Thurrock Nub News has reported exclusively this week on the row that has broken out over 19 planned new development sites on land owned by the council.

One senior Tory even broke ranks with her Cabinet colleagues to vote against further work being carried out on the project (see story via red button below).

And Labour councillor Martin Kerin wanted to bring the matter before full council later this month by asking a question to the housing portfolio holder Cllr Barry Johnson.

But officers have told him he can’t ask the question because it is factually inaccurate’.
Cllr Kerin believes the move has been fashioned by the ruling Conservative group who are anxious to avoid more embarrassment like Cllr Sue Little voting against the scheme.

Cllr Kerin says he submitted the wording of a question he wanted to ask Cllr Johnson at full council on Wednesday, 26 February. It reads: “Does the Portfolio Holder believe that building 89 flats on the Grays Beach car park is a good idea?”

However, he was told the question has been rejected because it is factually inaccurate.

Cllr Kerin has appealed, stating that the question is based on a factual report presented to both the Housing O&S Committee and the Cabinet, and that residents have a right to know what the portfolio holder's view is on the controversial scheme.

He adds: “'This is an outrage. My residents have a right to know what is happening in their own community. This gagging of opposition councillors is appalling. My residents are already suspicious of the motives of the council, and this silencing of the opposition will only add to the fears that are already out there in Thurrock.”

Cllr Johnson told Thurrock Nub News full council wasn’t the place to debate the issue at this time. He says: “The report containing the list of possible sites for the building of Council Homes which I introduced on Wednesday evening is exactly that, a list of sites that are technically possible for development on Council owned land.

“Thurrock Nub News reported some of my introduction where I quite clearly stated that many Thurock Cllrs will not be enamoured with one or some of the sites named. In my humble opinion, now the list has been approved for officers to begin further work which will include full consultation with residents and ward councillors.

“Now is the time for councillors worth their salt to speak with their residents affected by the sites and ensure they get their point of view across to the council. As also stated at cabinet it is once these consultations begin to arrive that is when the opinion of councillors should be heard.

“My civic duty was to prepare and make public a transparent list of possible or sites with real participation from residents through consultation which will provide the basis of good open debate which can be had in the chamber or forums or with individual residents. In short this will be the time I give my opinion.”

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