Thurrock Borough Council
since 16 September 2022[b]
Length of term
|First past the post (elected in thirds)|
|5 May 2022|
|By Thames to all the peoples of the world|
Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, RM17 6SL
Thurrock Borough Council, usually known as simply Thurrock Council, is the local authority for the borough of Thurrock in Essex, England. Since 1997, Thurrock has been a unitary authority, combining the functions of a non-metropolitan county with that of a non-metropolitan district. The other such authority in Essex is Southend-on-Sea. It is a member of the East of England Local Government Association.
Poor law union and urban district
In 1835, as a result of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, the parishes that make up the modern borough of Thurrock were united under the Orsett Union, a poor law union. The union was established on 31 October 1935. It was governed by a board of guardians made up of 21 elected representatives, each representing a parish. Most parishes elected one representative, though Grays Thurrock elected two and Orsett elected three. The 18 parishes in the union included Aveley, Bulphan, Chadwell St Mary, Corringham, Fobbing, Hordon-on-the-Hill, Langdon Hills, Mucking, North and South Ockendon, Orsett, Stanford-le-Hope, Stifford, Grays Thurrock, Little Thurrock, West Thurrock, and East and West Tilbury.
Between 1837 and 1880, the parish of Canvey Island was also part of the union. The area the union administered was also called the Orsett Hundred in reference to the hundreds of Chafford and Barstable, which covered the area.
Local government in the Orsett Union was further split between Grays Thurrock Urban District Council (established in 1886), Orsett Rural District Council (established c. 1895), Tilbury Town Council (established in 1912) and Purfleet Urban District Council (established in 1929).
In 1936, as a result of the Local Government Act 1929, the four councils amalgamated as Thurrock Urban District Council. Thurrock Urban District was a local government area and a civil parish, and it was formed from the Orsett Union and its parishes, which were subsequently abolished. From 1938, the district also included the part of the former Little Burstead parish which was located in Basildon New Town, which had been transferred from the Billericay Urban District.
District and Borough Council
Local government in Essex was reorganised in 1974 with services being transferred to Essex County Council. Thurrock Urban District and its council were abolished. The urban district was replaced by Thurrock District, which was created on 1 April 1974. Thurrock District Council was first elected in 1973, a year before formally coming into its powers and prior to the creation of the district.
The council received borough status, permitting the council to be known as Thurrock Borough Council. Until 1998 it was constituted as non-metropolitan district council in a two-tier arrangement, sharing service provision with Essex County Council.
As a result of the 1992 Local Government Commission for England, on 1 April 1998 Thurrock absorbed the powers of Essex County Council for its area, becoming a unitary authority. 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. The development corporation was absorbed by the council on 1 April 2012.
Solar energy and other investments
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 £655m. The prudence of Thurrock's strategy has been questioned. The company (Toucan Energy Holdings 1) entered administration on 11 November 2022. There was also a £94 million loan to the Just Loans Group plc, a business lender, which went bankrupt in June 2022.
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. 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.
On 29 November 2022, Thurrock council admitted that in the current financial year it had a near £500 million budget deficit, mostly from failed investments. It asked for emergency financial assistance from the government. The council issued a Section 114 notice barring any new expenditure on 19 December 2022.
Election results and council control
For most of the council's history, it has been controlled by Labour, including from 1982 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2015. In 2016, the council became under no overall control, but with a Conservative leader, Rob Gledhill. By the 2021 Thurrock Council election Conservatives had regained control.
Historic political control is shown alongside the historic election results.
Thurrock is divided into 20 wards and elects 49 councillors. One-third of the council is elected every year on a four-year term and so every fourth year there is no election. Councillors are elected through first-past-the-post voting. There are 19 committees, including:
- Corporate parenting
- General services
- Health and wellbeing board
- Standards and audit
- Corporate Scrutiny
- Cleaner, Greener and Safer Scrutiny
- Children's Services Scrutiny
- Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny
- Housing Scrutiny
|Electoral ward||Year of election|
|1||Aveley and Uplands||Luke Spillman (TI)[a]||Tim Aker (TI)[a]||Colin Churchman (Con)|
|2||Ockendon||David Potter (TI)[a]||Sue Shinnick (Lab)||Andrew Jefferies (Con)|
|3||Belhus||Angela Lawrence (Con)[b]||Mike Fletcher (Lab)||Chris Baker (TI)[a]|
|4||West Thurrock and South Stifford||Oliver Gerrish (Lab)||Qaisar Abbas (Lab)||Victoria Holloway (Lab)|
|5||South Chafford||Suzanne MacPherson (Con)||Abbie Akinbohun (Lab)||—|
|6||Chafford and North Stifford||Garry Hague (Con)||—||Mark Coxshall (Con)|
|7||Grays Riverside||Tony Fish (Lab)||Martin Kerin (Lab)||Jane Pothecary (Lab)|
|8||Grays Thurrock||John Kent (Lab)||Lynn Worrall (Lab)||Cathy Kent (Lab)|
|9||Stifford Clays||—||Elizabeth Rigby (Con)||Jennifer Smith (TI)[a]|
|10||Little Thurrock Blackshots||Jocelyn Redsell (Con)||Ben Maney (Con)||—|
|11||Little Thurrock Rectory||—||Rob Gledhill (Con)||Tom Kelly (Con)|
|12||Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park||—||Bukky Okunade (Lab)||Allen Mayes (TI)[a]|
|13||Tilbury St. Chads||John Allen (TI)[a]||Steve Liddiard (Lab)||—|
|14||Chadwell St. Mary||Gerard Rice (Lab)||Barbara Rice (Lab)||Daniel Chukwu (Lab)|
|15||East Tilbury||Sue Sammons (Con)[b]||—||Fraser Massey (Ind)|
|16||Stanford-Le-Hope West||Terry Piccolo (Con)||—||Shane Hebb (Con)|
|17||Corringham and Fobbing||Aaron Watkins (Con)||—||Deborah Huelin (Con)|
|18||Stanford East and Corringham Town||Jack Duffin (TI)[a]||Alex Anderson (Con)||Shane Ralph (TI)[a]|
|19||The Homesteads||Gary Collins (Con)||James Halden (Con)||Gary Byrne (TI)[a]|
|20||Orsett||Susan Little (Con)||Barry Johnson (Con)||—|
Mayors and leaders
Thurrock Council has a leader, mayor and chief executive. The leader of the council is also typically the leader of its largest party. They are scrutinised by the leader of the opposition, who typically leads the council's largest non-governing party.
Until 2 September 2022, when he resigned, Conservative councillor Rob Gledhill was Council leader who was in office since 2016, while the current leader of the opposition is Labour Group leader John Kent. Kent was previously the leader of the council from 2010 to 2016, when he stood down after his party's loss in the 2016 council election. He remained leader of the Labour Group until his parliamentary candidacy in the 2017 general election, returning after his successor Oliver Gerrish's resignation in August 2018. He left his post after again standing for election to parliament in 2019 but returned after his successor Jane Pothecary resigned from the leadership in 2020. From 2016 to 2018, the leader of the opposition was UKIP Group and then Thurrock Independent Group leader Graham Snell, who was de-seated and lost the opposition leadership to Labour's Oliver Gerrish after the 2018 council election.
The mayor acts as the council's chairman and undertakes ceremonial duties. They usually serve for a one-year term, with a new mayor being elected by councillors in an annual council session. Although rare, mayors have served for a longer period, such as when Mayor Yash Gupta served from 2011 to 2013. The current mayor is Conservative councillor James Halden, who is the first homosexual to serve in this position. He was sworn in on 26 May 2022. The first mayor in Thurrock was Margaret Jones who served from 1974 and the first Black mayor was Tunde Ojetola who served from 2017 to 2018.
Historic leaders and mayors are recorded with the historic election results.
Thurrock, the area with borough status which this council administers.
- The Thurrock Independents group was formed by councillors who were originally elected as UKIP, but later left the party. Tim Aker was re-elected as a Thurrock Independent in the 2018 local elections.
- Angela Lawrence and Sue Sammons were originally elected as UKIP, but left the party to form the Thurrock Independents alongside the rest of their group members. They later joined the Conservative Party.
- "New mayor vows Thurrock will 'rival London's square mile'". BBC News. 26 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
- "Government intervention into Thurrock Council". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
- Speight, Neil (13 October 2022). "Cllr Mark Coxshall appointed as leader of Thurrock Council for four years". Thurrock Nub News. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
- Hill, Jessica (16 September 2022). "Thurrock chief on leave and finance director suspended". Local Government Chronicle. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
- "Council and democracy: Your Councillors". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
- "Thurrock Council Communications Strategy 2021–24" (PDF). Thurrock Council. 13 October 2021. p. 2. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
- "Thurrock Council: Explanatory Memorandum (2 September 2022)". GOV.UK. 2 September 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
- "Borough and council history: From Turroc to modern Thurrock". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
- "The Workhouse in Orsett, Essex". Workhouses.org.uk. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
- Porter, Ken; Wynn, Stephen (30 November 2014). Laindon in the Great War. Pen and Sword. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4738-4779-8.
- Palin, William (1871). Stifford and Its Neighbourhood, Past and Present. Printed for Private Circulation. Taylor and Company. p. 23.
- "Introducing Thurrock Council". Thurrock Council. Archived from the original on 30 August 2000. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- "Court hears Thurrock Council paid £5 million commission to flamboyant entrepreneur to set up flawed solar farm deals. Questions raised about its diligence and fears for the future over its billion pound borrowing strategy". Thurrock Nub News. 17 October 2020.
- "TOUCAN ENERGY HOLDINGS 1 LIMITED overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
- "Solar farm owner Toucan Energy enters administration amid Thurrock scandal". the Guardian. 11 November 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
- Butler, Patrick (29 November 2022). "Thurrock council admits disastrous investments caused £500m deficit". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
- "Government announces intervention into Thurrock Council". gov.uk. 2 September 2022.
- Butler, Patrick (2 September 2022). "Tory-run Thurrock council faces inquiry over 'exceptional' debt levels". The Guardian.
- Butler, Patrick (30 November 2022). "Thurrock council ignored bankruptcy warnings and took 'unprecedented risks'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
- "Thurrock Council issues S114 notice of financial distress". BBC News. 19 December 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
- "Council compositions". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- "Thurrock". BBC News Online. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- Dedman, Simon (8 May 2021). "Local elections 2021: Conservatives take Harlow from Labour". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
- "Committees, meetings and minutes - Thurrock Council". www.thurrock.gov.uk.
- "Wards and polling stations". www.thurrock.gov.uk. Thurrock Council. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
- https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/sites/default/files/assets/documents/schedule-of-local-elections-v06.pdf[dead link]
- "Thurrock Labour announce new leader on council". Thurrock Gazette. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- "Former council leader John Kent returns to lead Thurrock Labour group". Your Thurrock. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- Speight, Neil (11 May 2020). "Change of Labour leadership at Thurrock Council as John Kent returns to the opposition front bench". Thurrock Nub News. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- "Labour leader returns after stepping down for election". Thurrock Gazette. 19 May 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- "Thurrock's "Mr History" Jonathan Catton passes away". Your Thurrock. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- "Report of the Cabinet Member for Related Decisions". Thurrock Council. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- Pearson, Gary (10 May 2018). "Editor's comment: It was kinda alright on election night..." Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
- "The role of the Mayor". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
- "Political stalwart Yash Gupta retires after twenty years of public service". Thurrock Gazette. 24 April 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- Abbott, Matt (23 May 2013). "New mayor of Thurrock announced". Thurrock Gazette. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- Speight, Neil (26 March 2008). "Farewell and thanks to ex-mayors". The Echo. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- "Thurrock elects it's [sic] first black mayor". Your Thurrock. 27 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- "East of England Region". Civic Heraldry of England. Retrieved 9 March 2021.