Councillors in Thurrock have voted to scrap controversial plans to redevelop council offices in Grays at a cost of £10million - despite desperate claims that they could “make Grays great again”.

The future of the plans were discussed during a council meeting on Wednesday night after a motion was tabled by Labour leader Councillor Jane Pothecary, who urged the Conservative administration to abandon the scheme.

She told councillors: “People out there simply cannot understand why we would be spending £10million in the age of austerity on a new council building and yet this council seeks to push ahead with spending, at minimum, £10million on a new building for councillors to sit in.

“At a time when the council is actively encouraging residents not to come to the Civic offices our residents are expected to foot the bill for a grand entrance you don’t even want them to use.

“Not only will this project spend money on a white elephant, it will have a devastating effect on our heritage. Essex County Council heritage consultant state the plan will ‘remove the last legible vestiges of the historic High Street in what is the historic core of Grays.

“Should the proposed plans be approved the area will be dominated with large modern buildings leaving the listed church isolated and removed from its historic context’ all to replace a building that is 30 years old.”

Labour Councillor Oliver Gerrish, who chairs the overview and scrutiny committee, told councillors that “no one has provided sufficient explanation of what the benefits of this project are” and they should be “enormous” to justify it.

However, Conservative Councillor and cabinet member for regeneration, Mark Coxshall, hit back at the opposition saying there is “no better time to move our plans forward”.

He explained that selling part of the existing building and extending the other will allow for “much needed homes in the town centre” and avoids having to build on green belt land.

Furthermore, he said it was an opportunity to regenerate Grays town centre.

Speaking of objections from residents, he said: “I hear that the Civic offices don’t matter to residents and they ask me why and I don’t think it is a priority for residents, but we are here as leaders to say what is best.”

When he was told his time speaking in the chamber had come to an end by Mayor Terry Piccolo, who chaired the meeting, Mr Coxshall desperately listed a series of unrelated Grays regeneration plans before shouting, “make Grays great again – what is wrong with that”.