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Row over council money owed to firm
7:30am Sunday 28th July 2013 in News
THURROCK Council owes a South Ockendon building firm nearly a quarter of a million pounds, opposition councillors have claimed.
The firm, which was employed on the council’s decent homes framework, is owed money for jobs dating back as far as October 2012.
And the construction company is just one of several owed money by the council after it pulled the plug on contractors, including Morrison, to make way for Mears.
Conservative finance spokesman Barry Johnson called the situation “truly shocking” and said the council “still doesn’t seem anywhere near putting it right”.
The company, which does not wish to be named, was responsible for doing up the council’s void properties, but was told to leave sites by the council in December.
But the local firm has been left with 26 jobs unpaid, totalling £248,246. The council has also racked up £16,500 in late payment fees.
Cllr Johnson said: “This is a truly shocking situation. If residents didn’t pay their council tax for seven months, the council would take them to court. The council, however, is more than happy to ignore its own bills for that time.
“This is essentially bullying a local business, and presumably others, and it has to stop. Thurrock Labour talk a good game about supporting local business, but the reality is far from pretty.”
Cllr Val Morris-Cook, the portfolio holder for housing, hit back.
She said: “Thurrock has made no secret of its need to change the way housing repairs were dealt with.
“Thurrock Council is determined to get the best value for all residents – including tenants – and now is making sure that best practice is followed.
“The cost of replacing council house kitchens and bathrooms has been halved in recent months and the standard of work has improved.
“You wouldn’t run your home the way these deals were done previously and if you ran your business this way you’d soon be in the insolvency courts.
“We’re getting there now and unfortunately there will be losers as well as winners – to me what’s important is our tenants, our residents, are among the winners now.”
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