Will axe fall on town policing as cash-strapped council tries to make savings? Council proposes secret meeting to discuss cop cuts

By Neil Speight

19th Jan 2023 | Local News

End of the line for town centre policing in Tilbury and Purfleet?
End of the line for town centre policing in Tilbury and Purfleet?

AS the impact of Thurrock Council's cash crisis continues to bite, councillors are to be asked if they wish to continue to fund extra police officers in Tilbury and Purfleet town centres.

This week Thurrock Nub News exclusively revealed that officers are recommending the closure of the Thameside Theatre complex and selling the site rather than handing it on to the community. The decision to recommend that has been made by the borough's £140,000+ a year director of place, Mark Bradbury.

Now officers are asking, in a proposed secret session, members of the council's Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee to consider the funding of a contract with Essex Police, due to end in April, of town centre police officers in Tilbury and Purfleet.

They were employed, in addition to seven other officers in town centre teams in Grays, South Ockendon and Stanford-le-Hope, under a total package amounting to around £750,000. The contract to fund the other seven officers runs out in February next year.

Councillors will consider a report from Thurrock Community Safety Partnership manager Michelle Cunningham, who works through an 'accountable' chain of command including £100,000 a year assistant director Michael Dineen and Director of Public Realm, Julie Rogers. The attendance at work of Ms Rogers, whose salary package is well in excess of £130,000, and her performance levels have recently come under scrutiny.

There are a number of options for councillors on the committee to consider, including paying for the officers and deploying them in other town centre or district roles, scrapping the funding for the Purfleet and Grays entirely or carrying on under the same terms and conditions under a new contract. Whatever decision is made by members of the committee will then be considered by the council's ruling Conservative Cabinet.

Despite the importance of the issue and significant interest of the public in the management of borough offairs, officers have suggested consideration of the policing be considered in secret with press and public excluded. Committee members have the right to overule that recommendation and discuss the recommenations and financial implications in public view.

Members of the committee are Cllrs Joy Redsell (chair), Gary Byrne (vice-chair) Daniel Chukwu, Sara Muldowney, Maureen Pearce and Elizabeth Rigby.

The work of the town centre officers and some of the things they have achieved in a three year package covering five town centres is detailed in this council report.


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