Local elections: Embattled Havering Conservative’s rough ride
18:00 26 April 2014
The last four years have been a rough ride for the current Conservative administration, with damaging feuds and defections to Ukip that this month caused the party to lose its overall majority on the council.
The initial battle lines between Romford’s Tory old guard and the new breed supporting Romford MP Andrew Rosindell became apparent in 2012, halfway through the council’s four-year tenure,
Relations became so tense that the locks were changed at the Romford Conservative Association’s Western Road headquarters, Margaret Thatcher House, by Cllr Eric Munday, leaving the Rosindell supporters out in the cold.
Tory stalwart and former association chairman Alby Tebbutt rejoined the party after his suspension for a common assault conviction in 2009 was overturned on appeal.
He then promptly challenged long-term Rosindell supporter Cllr Osman Dervish for the association’s chairmanship.
Mr Tebbutt and his allies lost the challenge as the new contenders – all in their twenties – took the top three posts by an overwhelming majority.
Soon after becoming chairman, Cllr Dervish removed Mr Tebbutt from the party.
Cllr Dervish, at this month’s launch of his Romford candidates, said: “It’s not about age, it’s about the mindset and the people who try and stop it don’t really get it. In this day and age, you need to.”
Mr Tebbutt has now become one of the latest former Romford Conservative Association members to jump ship to Ukip.
The Recorder reported earlier this month that the mayor, Cllr Munday, had defected to the anti-EU party along with deputy mayor Cllr Linden Thorpe and Cllr Peter Gardner.
The association rejects the councillors’ claims that they were dumped by the organisation. But it admits deselecting three councillors, one of which is the popular Cllr Andrew Curtin, who will now run as an independent in a challenge against his former colleagues.
This year will also be the first in recent history where Havering’s Conservatives do not have a unified manifesto.
Instead, the three party associations – the Romford one, Hornchurch and Upminster Conservatives and Dagenham and Rainham Conservatives – will each release individual policy declarations.