A Thurrock councillor has described a terrifying experience when an intruder prowled around council offices for an hour before stealing cash.

Joycelyn Redsell, chairman of the cleaner, greener, safer scrutiny committee, said new Civic Centre offices, which have yet to open, must be made safe for councillors in the wake of the death of Southend West MP Sir David Amess and her own lucky escape.

Ms Redsell revealed the man had tailgated someone entering the private area of the civic offices in Grays and had wandered around the building unchallenged in the middle of the day.

She said: “It happened before covid. I was in an office on my own. This bloke came in and said he’d come to fix the wiring. I didn’t think anything of it.

“He asked if I had a pen and as I lent away to get one he took my purse. Then he went into another office and stole cash. He returned the pen and he put my purse back in my bag. It wasn’t until I went to Lakeside later that I realised he had stolen the £50 I’d had.

“The police came and we had it all on CCTV. He could have had a knife or anything. He was never caught and I never heard anything more from the police.”

Speaking at the committee’s recent meeting, where an update on the council’s counter terrorism measures was given, Ms Redsell added: “I’m really concerned about when people get into the offices because it happened to me.

“There is nothing to protect members on their own in an office. There’s no buttons to press, nothing.

“Since what happened to David Amess I think there should be something put in place because we are all watching ourselves now.”

Responding to Ms Redsell’s concerns, council officer Cheryl Wells said: “We’ve had counter terrorism police come in a do a review of the Civic, particularly as the civic has developed further with the extension. It’s really looking at ways we can strengthen resilience and prevent any kind of terrorist-related incident occurring at the Civic.

“We are also looking at other council-owned buildings as well. We have got an action plan that will be developed further as a result of the advice received from the counter terrorism police.”

Sir David Amess died following an incident at his constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh on October 15.