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Havering Council rejected calls to “make cut backs in its own house” after a huge majority overturned a motion described as “nuts” by one councillor.

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Cllr Jeff Tucker (Independent Residents’ Group, Rainham & Wennington) put forward a motion calling on the council to look into reducing the number of elected members by 18.

He said: “While this great country starved on financial scraps, we are getting fatter on its reserves.

“The residents of our borough are living without while we are bathing in oils in abundance.

“Can we honestly say we are more important than them? Should it not be us putting our positions on the line?”

He repeatedly implored other councillors to “have the guts to make the cuts,” to the council itself rather than services.

The Independent Residents’ Group leader made various claims about the amount of money that would be saved by cutting the number of ward members from 54 to 36 – including that it would amount to £1.8m over a four year term.

But he was criticised by members of all other parties for getting his sums wrong.

Cllr Roger Ramsey (Conservative, Emerson Park) said the money saved would be “nothing like that” as a councillor’s basic allowance is just over £10,000.

Cllr Ramsey and Cllr Michael White (Conservative, Squirrels Heath) also questioned Cllr Tucker’s own attendance record at council meetings – suggesting he could give residents better value for money himself.

Several councillors also pointed out that it is not up to the council to decide how many councillors serve the borough but that the composition is based on recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission.

Cllr Denis O’Flynn (Labour, Heaton) and others argued that the workload of a councillor would be too much if the number of ward members were reduced.

Cllr Roger Evans (Conservative, Elm Park) said: “Cllr Tucker says ‘have the guts to vote for the cuts’, I would say: vote against the cuts because the motion is nuts.”

The council voted by 45 to zero, with three abstentions, against Cllr Tucker’s motion, and instead agreed to consider how many councillors are needed the next time a review takes place.

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