Attempts to achieve a cross-party proposal to reduce senior councillors’ pay have failed.

Group leaders met last Friday (February 25) and again on Monday (February 28) to discuss special responsibility allowances (SRA) and committee restructuring ahead of a budget-setting council meeting tonight, March 2.

Havering Council leader Damian White had been seeking a composite motion to reduce spending on SRAs – which are paid to councillors who take on additional responsibilities such as cabinet posts, committee chairships and leadership positions – by nearly £400,000 a year.

However, the talks failed, with the Hornchurch Residents' Association (HRA), Upminster and Cranham Residents' Association (UCRA) and Labour groups citing a lack of trust that the necessary committee reforms would materialise.

This comes as Havering plans to make around £13million in savings for 2022/23, more than half of which (£7m) would come from a reduction of around 400 staff roles.

“It’s a last-minute thing that [Cllr White] thinks he can try and use against the opposition groups to get some favour in the forthcoming local elections,” HRA group leader Ray Morgon claimed.

The HRA and UCRA have their own proposal, which sets out cuts to specific allowances and includes a slimmed-down set of overview and scrutiny committees.

Cllr Morgon said his amendment was “properly costed, properly considered” and claimed the leader had picked his own figure based on an unjustified comparison with Bexley Council, which has a smaller population and fewer councillors.

Cllr White said Bexley was only used as a benchmark and noted his proposed £700,000p/a SRA spend was higher than Bexley’s.

“What the residents’ association are saying is that 'we have got a set of ideas that we think are the best',” he said.

“What I suggested is that the governance committee go away, work in a cross-party approach, come up with a set of recommendations that everyone can agree to within the £700,000 envelope."

He said he would be putting forward an SRA proposal unilaterally.

Keith Darvill, leader of the Labour group and long-term committee reform advocate, said he had gone into the meetings with “an open mind” but did not trust the Conservatives to follow through on the issue.

His group intends to support the HRA and UCRA’s amendment.

Martin Goode, from the North Havering Residents' Group, who also have an SRA motion, said negotiations had failed due to the “negativity of other group leaders”.

He said his group would decide on the night which proposals to back, but claimed their motion was the only one that could “go through straight away”.