Tories round on Labour candidate following attack on government’s youth offending programme track record

John Kent finds himself at the centre of an attack from Cllrs James Halden (left) and Rob Gledhill (right).

TWO leading Conservative councillors have rounded on Labour’s parliamentary candidate and former Thurrock Council leader in the wake of his attack on the government’s track record on youth offending and the impact of cuts in the borough.

Conservatives Rob Gledhill, the current council leader, and his cabinet colleague James Halden have reacted with “utter bewilderment” to what they describe as an unfair assault on the Thurrock Youth Offending Service by Cllr John Kent.

Cllr Kent claims the Conservatives have damaged the service with budget cuts but the Tories say: “Reviewing the figures proves this to be a total and blatant falsehood.”

Cllr Gledhill said: “The Thurrock Youth Offending Service lost approximately half their staff in 2011 and 2012, when Cllr Kent was the Labour Leader of the Council. It’s possible he was not intentionally misleading people, after all, he wasn’t renowned for being a particularly informed council leader.

“The council has increased the capacity of the service, including a new dedicated post for gang issues, funded by increased funding directly ordered by myself”.

Cllr Halden, who includes education among his portfolio responsibilities and in another recent Twitter attack on Cllr Kent questioned his credentials because he is ‘an out of work printer’, added: “It’s a shame once again Labour want to talk down our public services and make it all about a tax and spend agenda.

“Our re-offending rate is only 29.5%, lower than the 32.8% in Essex and massively lower than the 40.1% nationally. This is a great team, making Thurrock safer, and backed clearly by this Conservative administration following years of mismanagement from Cllr Kent.”

Cllr Halden appears keen to ramp up the tempo in what may be a war of words prior to a forthcoming  general election when Cllr Kent would be standing against current Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price.

He added: “The fact he would attack the very services and people trying to keep the public safe, because he thinks it will do him electoral favours, tells you all you need to know about the man.”