Posted: 28.07.21 at 07:12 by The Editor
THURROCK Council has claimed that its response to the submission of a petition containing more than 4,000 signatures objecting to the closure of the Thameside Complex (and Thameside Theatre) has been misreported.
In the wake of widespread social media comment after members of the group campaigning to save the venue said the council had responded to the petition submission by saying it was not recognised as a legitimate document that might trigger a council debate on the issue, Thurrock Nub News reported on the public disquiet – and reflected some of the criticism of senior Conservative councillors, including the allegation that they were ‘cowards’ for not debating the issue.
It was further reported by petition organisers and local opposition councillors that some of the signatories to the online petition had not been accepted by the council as appropriate.
Thurrock Nub News asked the council (and/or council leader Cllr Rob Gledhill and relevant portfolio holder Cllr Deb Huelin) to comment.
Yesterday (Tuesday, 27 July) the council contacted Nub News and asked us to retract the story.
The council, in an unattributed message, says: “It appears you have been given inaccurate information and unfortunately have published an article based on it.
“The Thameside petition has been accepted and the lead petitioner has been sent a letter confirming that fact. Thurrock Council will formally respond to them within the usual timeframes as set out in the council’s constitution.
“The article you are running under the headline: Council rejects thousands of names on petition calling for debate in bid to save the Thameside Theatre. Councillors are described as 'cowards' is not an accurate representation of the facts:
• the petition has not been ‘disregarded’, it has been accepted and confirmation sent
• the petition does not call for a debate as your headline says. The details of the petition submitted at Full Council last week petition can be found at: https://www.change.org/p/thurrock-council-save-the-thameside-complex
“We trust you will remove or correct the inaccurate report which is currently published.”
Thurrock Nub News editor Neil Speight says: “The council appears to be playing with the semantics of words rather than concentrating on the real issues.
“I have spoken directly to some of those involved in the campaign and they are unequivocal that the council has cocked a thumb at them and the views of residents.
“Our report yesterday acknowledged that the petition has been received in he chamber and while the council may argue that the actual wording of the petition lacks clarity, there is no doubt in my mind that the councillors concerned know full well what the residents want – and they were left in no doubt of that by the protest outside the council offices last week.
“And by the words of Mr Martyn Williams in the chamber.
“Unlike the council, I am always happy to be transparent and so I have published the council’s message in full and I am sure readers and the residents of Thurrock can form their own opinion on matters.”
Cllr Lynn Worrall confirms she has been told the online petition has not been accepted.
She told Nub News today: "The current position is that the council has accepted 90 of the 100 signatures which made up the physical paper petition which was handed in at full council.
"The real disappointment comes from them not accepting the online change.org petition alongside the paper copy which took the petition to over 4,000 signatures. Had they accepted it there would have been a 15 minute debate at September's full council meeting .
"The council's own website (see screenshot) points residents to this organisation and nothing says that it will not be recognised by them should they use it. Residents would not know that using change org would mean it would fail according to a rule in the council's constitution.
"Residents should be able to trust what they read on the website and not have to trawl through the constitution to check for loopholes which stops their voices being heard.
"I have challenged this decision on behalf of the residents as it is very clear that the lead petitioner and every single resident that signed the online petition did so in good faith and wanted the council to recognise both petitions to not close and sell off Thameside Theatre without giving the residents a new theatre which they have a always promised.
"It is time for the council to accept the website is very misleading and give the residents the council debate that accepting the substantive petition would give them."
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