On Saturday I attended the Thurrock International Celebration of Culture in Grays. This was a wonderful showcase of food and performance from Thurrock’s diverse communities. From Sri Lanka to Nigeria, from Nepal to Romania and beyond it brought life to Thurrock’s motto, ‘From the Thames to all People of the world’.
What was great was where it took place. At the South End of Grays High Street in front of the college is a space that lends itself to a Piazza. It has been designed for the very purpose of gathering the community together.
Which brings me to Grays regeneration. I lobbied Network Rail and Government to come together with Thurrock Council to sort out the unsafe level crossing and secured funding to deliver a transformational scheme which will see both sides of Grays High Street brought together again
Far from being a vanity project, the proposals to redevelop the Civic offices will add to this renewal. The open space around the church will be opened up further and create a vista towards the Thames. It will see the construction of a welcoming new entrance from the High Street. The offices are after all at the service of the people who live here and should be seen as such.
There is so much opportunity in Grays but it requires vision and leadership to be realised. Sadly some local leaders are more interested in promoting themselves rather than what is best for the borough. It is the same behaviour which saw us lose out on a High Speed rail connection; the same behaviour that stopped the replacement of the tower blocks in Grays and the same behaviour which stopped Thurrock Council from making the case for the best route for the Lower Thames crossing.
Grays renewal is an idea whose time is long overdue. We can be held back by lack of ambition or we can seize the opportunity.