What’s behind the urge to tart up town centres?

At the back end of last year, we wrote this piece about plans to refurbish the Thurrock Council offices in New Road, Grays: Never mind us plebs, just build yourselves some shiny new offices! It would seem that despite a considerable amount of scepticism from local residents, the Tory administration are determined to go ahead with these plans: Leader stands firm on new council office plan. Their justification is that it will ‘provide an inspiration and leadership for the regeneration of Grays’. Hubris that’s matched by Southend Borough Council spending a small fortune on ‘artfully’ assembled piles of rusty iron in a bid to tart up the approach to Southend High Street: Screwed priorities…

In an age of permanent austerity when frontline services are being hammered, there’s a disturbing trend for local authorities to focus on projects that present a positive image of their main towns to outsiders while behind…

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