THURROCK Council’s commitment to creating community hubs was reinforced during a council cabinet meeting.

Communities portfolio holder Cllr Richard Speight introduced discussion about the Community Hubs Resourcing Plan during the meeting on Wednesday evening.

He and said: “Community hubs, like all areas of council spending, face significant challenges.

"Hubs are a priority for the council and a priority for me and I am pleased to share tonight that an expression of interest to the Transformation Challenge Award has been accepted and will, if we are successful, go a long way to helping us redesign services around Hub provision.”

The award is a government funding initiative which will help lever in extra finances for the scheme to roll out hubs to communities in the borough if the bid succeeds.

Cllr Speight said: “As we have seen over the last year in the South Ockendon pathfinder, hubs enable communities to come together and support each other. They are an asset to the community and something we should all be proud of.”

The report looked at how the council can support the development of hubs through a parent company so they are efficient, complement each other and other services.

It is still aiming to provide start-up and capital funding although council funding for the South Ockendon hub will finish in April.

However the council is working with the hub’s board to find alternative sources of funds and the Thurrock Council for Voluntary Service has also agreed to help.

A hub has also opened in Chadwell St Mary and others are moving forward in Aveley, Tilbury and Stifford Clays.

Cllr Speight said: “We’re looking to set up a parent company because, as more hubs come on line, more experience will be built about what you need and about what did work and what didn’t – one of the main roles it will play is to share those experiences.

“The approach we’re taking is one where communities are coming forward and leading the development of hubs tailored to the needs of local communities. This isn’t us deciding what to do to people, this is people coming to us and telling us what they want.”

He said: “I remain excited by the hubs programme and would encourage all services in the council to really explore how hubs can help them deliver better results and I urge those already involved with the programme, and those who are thinking about how best to get involved in their community, to bring forward their energy and ideas to making them a success.”