Opposition Labour councillors have hit out at Thurrock Council for refusing to hold a second consultation on acquiring a piece of land that would allow for the redevelopment of council offices.

Thurrock Council held a three-week public consultation on the acquisition of Mulberry Square in the middle of April and claimed in a recent cabinet meeting that the fact only one response was received shows “public support” for £10million plan.

But Labour councillors have said they are “furious” that the Conservative-led administration has refused to run the consultation again.

The opposition party has highlighted several areas where they feel the original consultation was “flawed”.

This ward councillors not being informed of the consultation taking place, no social media advertisement and the consultation was too short.

Labour says that by refusing a re-run of the consultation, “Thurrock Council has shown itself to not be interested in meaningfully consulting with local people”.

Councillor Tony Fish said: “Once again, we find ourselves facing a Tory-led Thurrock Council that is intent on denying my residents a meaningful say.

“The question I have is, what have they got to hide?

“Mulberry Square is a very special corner of Grays.

“To sneak in a flawed consultation, knowing how local people really feel about it, is simply appalling.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Thurrock Council to ask why another consultation was not possible and whether anything would be done to address the concerns that have been raised.

They did not respond.

The acquisition of Mulberry Square is key to Thurrock Council’s plan for new offices on New Road, Grays.

The authority aims to split the existing office in two, with one half being converted into flats and the other half which is closest to Mulberry Square being redeveloped and extended.

The extension will be built on top of Mulberry Square.

Residents of Seabrooke Rise, which is located near to the civic offices, say they were not included in the consultation.

Richard Suttling, chair of Seabrooke Estate Residents Association, said: “Thurrock Council know how we all feel about this £10m monstrosity.

“That’s why they’ve made it as awkward as possible to participate in the consultation.

“We have repeatedly invited the leader of the council and the portfolio holder for regeneration to our meetings.

“They have never accepted our invitation.

“To sneak this consultation in during lockdown and deny us our day is disgusting.”

A council spokesman said: "There are two different processes here which are being confused, both of which have been fully complied with by Thurrock Council.  In terms of the Cabinet paper on Appropriation of Land for Mulberry Square, Thurrock Council adhered fully to Section 122 of the Local Government Act to appropriate land. The Act requires a council to advertise its intention to appropriate the open space for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper circulating in the local area; and consider any objections to the proposed appropriation.

"An advert was placed in the Thurrock Gazette for two consecutive weeks in line with the requirement of the Act. No objections were received. A printed version of the paper was in circulation during the two week period and available online. In addition, the council published the appropriation notice on its website on the Public Notice section, consistent with process for other public notices.

"In relation to the wider public consultation on the proposals for a new Civic Centre, the council has undertaken significant consultation on the scheme including public displays from 11-19 February 2019. The council’s online consultation portal provided the opportunity for residents and stakeholders to give their feedback online which ran for the same period in February 2019. The Civic Offices scheme has also been considered by Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee as well as Cabinet.

"The Call-In was only in relation to the Appropriation of Land decision of Cabinet and was refused as the council has fully complied with the Act."