Thurrock Borough Council
Logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Sue Little,
Conservative
since 24 May 2023
Andrew Jefferies,
Conservative
since 24 May 2023[1]
Dave Smith
since 21 March 2023[2]
Structure
Seats49 councillors[3]
Political groups
Administration (25)
  Conservative (25)
Other parties (24)
  Labour (19)
  Independent (5)
Length of term
Four years
Elections
First past the post
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
2 May 2024
Motto
By Thames to all the peoples of the world[4]
Meeting place
Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, RM17 6SL
Website
www.thurrock.gov.uk
Constitution
Constitution

Thurrock Council is the local authority for the borough of Thurrock in the ceremonial county of Essex, England. Thurrock is a unitary authority, having the powers and functions of a county council and district council combined. It is a member of the East of England Local Government Association. The council is based in Grays.

In 2022 the council's level of debt arising from failed investments led to it issuing a Section 114 notice, being the local authority equivalent of declaring bankruptcy. The government directed neighbouring Essex County Council to take over Thurrock's finances and also appointed a new managing director for the council.

History

Thurrock Urban District had been created in 1936 from the former urban districts of Grays Thurrock, Purfleet and Tilbury and the Orsett Rural District.[5]

Urban districts were abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. A new non-metropolitan district called Thurrock was created covering almost the same area as the former Thurrock Urban District, with just a minor change on the border with Basildon to place the whole designated area for Basildon new town in that district.[6][7] The reformed Thurrock district was given borough status at the same time, allowing the council to call itself "Thurrock Borough Council" and letting the chair of the council the title of mayor.[8]

Thurrock was made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998, taking over county-level services in the area from Essex County Council. Since 1998 the council has generally styled itself "Thurrock Council" rather than "Thurrock Borough Council".[9]

The planning function for large developments was exercised by the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation in the whole of the borough from 2003 to 2012.[10][11]

Financial difficulties

In 2020, it emerged that the council had borrowed £420 million to buy into the solar power market, eventually rising to a total investment of £655 million.[12] One of the companies in which the council had invested, Toucan Energy, went into administration on 11 November 2022.[13][14] Businessman Liam Kavanagh is accused of cheating the council out of as much as £130 million in relation to the deals.[15] Thurrock also made a £94 million loan to the Just Loans Group plc, a business lender which went bankrupt in June 2022.[16]

On 2 September 2022, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities intervened in the running of Thurrock Council, passing financial control of the council to Essex County Council, as well as ordering a Best Value Inspection, in response to concerns about the council's level of financial risk and debt.[17] The council's financial exposure arises from loans of more than a billion pounds used to fund commercial investments. Council leader Rob Gledhill resigned on 2 September 2022, the day the government intervention was announced.[18]

On 29 November 2022, Thurrock Council admitted that in that financial year it had a near £500 million budget deficit, mostly from failed investments. It asked for emergency financial assistance from the government.[16][19] On 19 December 2022 the council issued a Section 114 notice barring any new expenditure, being the local authority equivalent of declaring bankruptcy.[20][21] In March 2023 the government appointed a new managing director for the council, Dave Smith.[22]

Governance

As a unitary authority, Thurrock Council provides all local government services, albeit with oversight of the council's finances from Essex County Council since the government intervention in September 2022. There are no civil parishes in the borough, which is an unparished area.[23]

Political control

The council has been under Conservative control since the 2021 election.[24]

The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority before coming into its powers on 1 April 1974. Since 1974 political control of the council has been held by the following parties:[25][26]

Non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
Labour 1974–1979
No overall control 1979–1982
Labour 1982–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Labour 1998–2004
Conservative 2004–2007
No overall control 2007–2012
Labour 2012–2014
No overall control 2014–2021
Conservative 2021–present

Leadership

The role of Mayor of Thurrock is largely ceremonial, usually being held by a different councillor each year. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1989 have been:[27]

Councillor Party From To
Jimmy Aberdein[28] Labour 1989 1995
Andy Smith[29][30] Labour 1995 30 Jun 2004
Anne Cheale Conservative 30 Jun 2004 24 May 2006
Terry Hipsey Conservative 24 May 2006 25 Mar 2009
Garry Hague Conservative 25 Mar 2009 19 May 2010
John Kent Labour 19 May 2010 25 May 2016
Rob Gledhill[31] Conservative 25 May 2016 2 Sep 2022
Mark Coxshall Conservative 13 Oct 2022 7 May 2023
Andrew Jefferies Conservative 24 May 2023

Composition

Following the 2023 election and subsequent changes of allegiance in July 2023 the composition of the council was:[32][33][34]

Party Councillors
Conservative 25
Labour 19
Independent 5
Total 49

The next election is due in 2024.

Premises

Civic Offices, New Road, Grays: The 1986 original building to the right of the entrance, 1992 central block in the middle and 2022 block to the far left.

The council is based at the Civic Offices on New Road in Grays.[35] When the council was created in 1974 it used the former offices of the Thurrock Urban District Council in a converted house called Farley and adjoining buildings around the junction of Whitehall Lane and Palmers Avenue in Grays.[36] In 1986 the council built itself a new headquarters at the corner of New Road and Derby Bridge Road in the centre of Grays.[37] The building has subsequently been extended westward along New Road with a large central block added in 1992 and a new wing at the corner of New Road and High Street completed in 2022.[38][39]

Elections

See also: Thurrock Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2004, the council has comprised 49 councillors representing 20 wards, with each ward electing two or three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, electing a third of the council each time for a four-year term. In the fourth year of the cycle there is no election.[40]

Wards

The wards, with their numbers on the map below, are:[40][41]

Arms

Coat of arms of Thurrock Council
Notes
Shield and crest originally granted to Thurrock Urban District Council on 17 January 1957. Supporters granted on 14 May 1976.
Crest
On a wreath of the colours an Albatross rising Proper from a bollard Sable roped Or.
Escutcheon
Argent on a fess wavy between in chief a ship's screw and a wheel Azure and in base a Celtic cross also Azure charged in the centre with a Tudor rose Proper three lymphads Argent.
Supporters
On the dexter a sea-lion guardant Or gutty Sable the tail Vert gutty Or and Argent holding in the dexter claw a block Or tackle Sable and on the sinister a knight in armour tempus 1370 resting the exterior hand on the hilt of his sheathed sword a hound at his feet all Proper upon a compartment per pale water barry wavy Argent and Azure and a representation of a stone quay Proper.
Motto
Secundum Tamesim Quovis Gentium (By The Thames To All The Peoples Of The World).[42]

Mayors

The mayors since 1982 have included:

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (May 2022)
Councillor Party From To
Bob Wood[43][44] Labour 1982 1983
Sid Josling[45] Labour 1984 1985
Arthur Clarke[46] Labour 1985 1986
George Watts[47] Labour 1988 1989
John Dunn[48] Labour 1989 1990
Ken Evans[49] Labour 1990 1991
Kitty Price[50] Labour 1991 1992
Pat Rice[51] Labour 1993 1994
Barry Palmer[52] Labour 1994 1995
Reg Lee[53] Labour 1995 1996
Sid Josling[45] Labour 1996 1997
Arthur Bennett[54] Labour 1997 1998
Albert Vandersteen[55] Labour 1998 1999
Carl Morris[56][57] Labour 1999 2000
Julian Norris[58][59] Labour 2000 2001
Barrie Lawrence[58][57] Labour 2001 2002
Gordon Barton[60][57] Labour 2002 2003
Gerard Rice[51][61] Labour 2003 2004
Ian Harrison[62][63] Conservative 2004 2005
Colin Churchman[60][64] Conservative 2005 2006
Joy Redsell[65][66] Conservative 2006 2007
Diane Revell[67] Conservative 2007 2008
John Everett[68] Conservative 2008 2009
Maureen Pearce[69] Conservative 2009 2010
Anne Cheale[70] Thurrock Concerned Conservative 2010 2011
Yash Gupta[71][72] Labour 2011 2013
Tony Fish[73] Labour 2013 2014
Steve Liddiard[74] Labour 2014 2015
Sue Gray[75][76] Labour 2015 2016
Cathy Kent[77][78] Labour 2016 2017
Tunde Ojetola[79] Conservative 2017 2018
Barbara Rice[80] Labour 2018 2019
Terry Piccolo[81] Conservative 2019 2021
Sue Shinnick[82][83] Labour 2021 2022
James Halden[84] Conservative 2022 2023
Sue Little Conservative 2023

See also

Thurrock, the area with borough status which this council administers.

References

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  2. ^ "Managing Director Commissioner joins Thurrock Council". Thurrock Council. 21 March 2023. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
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