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Thurrock Council

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

2. What recent discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of Thurrock council on the posts of its chief executive and senior managers; and if he will make a statement. (304598)

Officials from the Government office for the east of England discussed the appointment of a permanent chief executive and other matters with the leader and senior managers of Thurrock council on 9 November. In addition, the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Malik), will in his role as Minister with responsibility for the Thames Gateway meet the leader of the council on 9 December—tomorrow.

Since 2004, there have been two permanent chief executives and three interim chief executives of Thurrock council, at enormous cost and loss to the taxpayer, and now there is an interim treasurer and an interim head of housing. There is a culture of paying off people to go away, without any real examination of that. Is it not time that there was publication and full disclosure of these top salaries in Thurrock council and other councils, and that a kick up the backside was delivered in order to get this dysfunctional council working properly?

I can tell my hon. Friend that the Audit Commission is conducting its “boomerang bosses” inquiry. I can also assure him that the Government have been taking a close interest in developments in Thurrock because of the matters he raises. We have put in a level of support through the Government office for the east of England and local government organisations, which are supporting the council and the interim chief executive. We are working closely with them to ensure that a permanent chief executive is appointed, and the Government office and the Audit Commission will continue to monitor whether more formal intervention is required.