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Havering Council has been praised in a peer review assessment by the Local Government Association.

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The report described the council as being a “modernised and forward looking authority moving towards streamlined customer services.”

It praised the council’s political and managerial leadership and described Havering as having “a strategic and calm approach to the challenges it faces.”

The review team – of serving officers and councillors from other authorities – noted that the council has rapidly changed its organisation in the last two to three years to meet its financial challenges.

The report was noted at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday of last week.

Council leader Cllr Michael White (Conservative, Squirrels Heath) said: “It’s a good report and it’s quite surreal when I think of where we were ten-years-ago when we had to beg them not to put us in special measures.”

The inspectors met council officers, administration and two Residents’ Association councillors in order to draw their conclusions, among which was that senior staff are “philosophical, calm and resilient.”

But it noted the borough faces a huge, risky, challenge in taking on health provision and future financial challenges.

Cllr David Durant (Independent Residents’ Group, Rainham and Wennington) responded to the report asking: “Do you think it improves staff morale for the administration to close the [Nalgo] social club used by staff and unions in North Street?”

Deputy leader Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) replied: “The financial contribution wasn’t being made by the club, which was there rate free and rent free.

“I don’t see why the 200,000 people in the borough who pay their rates should pay for a building used just by a union.

“I think the union should be thankful that they have used it for 25 years for free.”

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