Damning attack on council commissioners by leading Thurrock Conservative - "Commissioners appear to be of a mind that they can ride roughshod through this whenever they find scrutiny either inconvenient or challenging”

By Nub News Reporter

18th Nov 2023 | Local News

Cllr Luke Spillman is concerned by the lack of scrutiny over local plan proposals
Cllr Luke Spillman is concerned by the lack of scrutiny over local plan proposals

THE Conservative chair of Thurrock Council's planning, transport and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee has accused government-appointed commissioners of trying to undermine the scrutiny of the soon-to-be-revealed local plan. 

The much delayed project has been dragged together over recent weeks after years of delay and is due to be presented to councillors at a special council meeting next month.

However Cllr Spillman is among a number of councillors who have been critical of the plan's status and does not believe it is currently fit for purpose.

He spoke to Thurrock Nub News this weekend, saying: "I wrote to commissioners expressing my concerns that the latest local plan papers will not have received any meaningful scrutiny before they are voted upon at next month's extraordinary council.

"As a scrutiny chair it is my responsibility and duty to uphold the integrity of the scrutiny process. 

Cllr Luke Spillman.

"I received a response from commissioners that I regard as a justification for undermining and entirely circumventing scrutiny of one of the most important documents this council ever considers.  

"A document that sets out the options for thousands of homes and the destruction of huge swathes of green belt.

"Personally, I've become increasingly troubled by the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude that we see so regularly from commissioners.  

"The government guidelines are clear.  

"We've been promised capable and effective scrutiny within of the Council's decision-making process. Yet commissioners appear to be of a mind that they can ride roughshod through this whenever they find scrutiny either inconvenient or challenging."

"Despite being far from optimal.  I've insisted, through my position of chair, that the Local Plan paper with be heard at the 5th December committee.  Any councillor, and any member of the public, will have the opportunity to submit questions to officers within a formal scrutiny setting.  

"This must happen whether commissioners like it or not.  I am not the only councillor asking why and how this paper is being railroaded through at such speed".

Criticism of the local plan and the failure of the council to grasp the issue has gone on for many years. In 2021 it was subject to a scathing attack by a local designer and planning agent.

And Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price has been a fierce critic of many aspects of the planning performance - notably damning the team, and efficiency of its officers in drawing up a regeneration plan for Purfleet.

She once spoke of her incredulity at the 'staggering ineptitude' of council officers.

The whole stalled project became a focal point for the new administration after government intervention in September 2022 but many councillors beleive there has not been enough work on the project and it is merely being used in a game of political chess to show Thurrock is further advanced than it really is.


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