Count us out, says Brentwood Council leader

Brentwood Borough Council (BBC) is to formally declare it has no intention of voluntarily joining a larger council made up of Thurrock and Basildon.

A motion due to be adopted by the council on Wednesday, March 10, says that it will continue to maintain good working relationships with all neighbouring authorities but it wishes to make it plain that there are no plans to form a unitary with Basildon or Thurrock at this time or at any point in the future.

The announcement comes after  Basildon Borough Council agreed to pursue an enlarged unitary with Thurrock under a Memorandum of Understanding  (MoU).

Cllr Chris Hossack, leader of BBC, said: “Gavin Callaghan over at Basildon has gone for it for whatever reason and I wanted  to make it clear that it has got nothing to do with us.”

The MoU sets out guidance for how the two councils will work together over matters related to local government reform, the reorganisation that was delayed last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That itself comes amidst a plan by the Government to release its Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper later this year, which will outline recommendations for the future structure of local government.

Basildon and Thurrock say the MoU will help both councils take control of the decisions made about the two boroughs, and develop a robust proposal for the area.

This could include the creation of a new unitary authority, one which provides all of the local government services for residents in Basildon and Thurrock, something Thurrock has enjoyed since 1998.

In countering suggestions that Brentwood Borough Council may join the council is set to adopt a motion that reads: “Following the announcement that Basildon Borough Council have agreed under an MoU to pursue an enlarged unitary with Thurrock.

“This administration wishes to make it plain that there are no plans to form a unitary authority with Basildon or Thurrock at this time or at any point in the future.

“The council will continue to maintain good working relationships with ALL neighbouring authorities, including but limited to, where possible, workable opportunities for sharing of resources to drive through efficiencies and make savings.

“Any such opportunities, both to enter into or indeed withdraw from such arrangements, would be brought back to this council for discussion, debate and decision.”

Cllr Hossack said: “If it happens I want to make sure Brentwood has a say on how we get aligned and I am not planning on it being Thurrock.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter