HONESTY, openness, fairness, respect, and hard work are the main tenets of Thurrock Labour Group’s election promises.

The party said it will ensure the council has a solid financial foundation based on straight talking and getting back to basics.

Labour says there will be “more transparency” and “no more catastrophic secret deals” and no more “playing fast and loose with people’s money”.

The group says it will build fairness and equality into council dealings, councillors will remember who they are there to serve and the party will work hard to rebuild residents’ trust in the council.

Labour’s manifesto says it will ensure council officers are there to advise while councillors make decision. The secrecy with which deals were made that led the council into its current financial crisis have, the party said, turned a “reasonably well-run council into a financial basket case” which has “saddled residents with decades of debt”.

John Kent, leader of the Labour Group said: “Thanks to the Conservative’s catastrophic mishandling of the council finances, the challenge we face is huge and the council – and the borough as a whole – will be very different in years to come. We have to, very carefully, go through all council assets – including remaining investments – to ensure we get the very best price when we come to sell them.

“Once the Best Value Inspection report has been published, we need to pursue those responsible for this catastrophe –through the courts if necessary – to make them pay for their actions.

“Labour will not agree to any Council Tax increase, above the level of the Council Tax cap, without a referendum. We know that Thurrock Tories will be looking to increase Council Tax by 10 per cent again next year – Labour will not support that.”

“Instead, we will use the principles of Zero Based Budgeting to examine every penny of council spending to see if it needs to be spent and, if it does, how we can spend it better.

“To ensure that vital services continue, we will work with local community groups, charities and not for profit organisations to see which council services could be better delivered in partnership with others.

“We will be open and transparent with the public, senior councillors and officers will go into the community to answer questions and listen to ideas for how we can do things better.”