Council calls time on meetings because of leak. Is it a timely intervention as tough issues including theatre campaign were due for debate?
By Neil Speight
20th Sep 2021 | Local News
NINE days after it was discovered, Thurrock Council has blamed a water leak that has affected the electrical supply as the reason why it is postponing several meetings – including, it appears – Wednesday's (22 September) full council meeting.
The meeting has a full agenda with many key local issues to be addressed and senior members of the council's ruling Conservative group were set to face some tough questions.
In addition members arriving for the meeting were due to pass a large planned protest by campaigners opposed to the closure of the Thameside Theatre and sale of other council assets.
Several local music, theatre and dance groups were due to take part in the protest outside the civic offices and this evening the organisers said they planned to go ahead with the demonstration.
Wednesday's full meeting has not yet been officially called off, but in the wake of a council announcement it seems likely and councillors have been alerted to the fact is is unlikely to go ahead.
It is not the first time this year that debate at full council has been halted because of technical issues. During the Covid lockdown many meetings degenerated into farce because of technology issues and some, including June's full council meeting, were abandoned.
Tonight's (Monday, 20 September) scheduled Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting did go ahead, having been switched to the Beehive Community Resource Centre but a housing overview and scrutiny meeting due tomorrow at the civic offices has been postponed.
The council's full statement this evening reads: "Thurrock Council has been forced to prevent access to the part of the civic offices where the council chamber and committee rooms are located while the electricity supply to the building has been isolated to allow essential repair work to take place following a significant water leak.
"This means that all council meetings scheduled to take place in the building will be postponed or relocated until works have been completed.
"Details about changes to the scheduled meetings will be shared through the committee meetings calendar available on Thurrock Council's website."
The part of the council offices which houses the council chamber is due to be demolished, though planning approval has not yet been given for the housing block that will replace it – not indeed for the demolition itself.
However, with the council's highly controversial multi-million pound extension well underway at the other side of the existing building, the second phase of the council's project is likely to be centre stage soon.
In the final part of its statement today the council referred to that, saying: "The affected older wing of the building will make way for much needed town centre housing as work on the new building, which includes a new council chamber and meeting rooms, is nearing completion and will replace the aging and now unsuitable part of the existing building."
Meanwhile the campaigners trying to save the Thameside Complex and the theatre and other services inside the building which includes the borough museum, are continuing to make their voices heard.
As well as Wednesday's anticipated protest the Save the Thameside Group have produced an emotive public video called 'Dear Thurrock Council' explaining whey they want to see the Thameside saved – at the very least until a new theatre is built in its place. You can view it via our link.