Havering Council has paused the planned installation of the Chanukah menorah outside the town hall this year citing rising hate crime - but the move has sparked fury.

The authority said it is "concerned" that the menorah would be vandalised amidst tensions emanating from the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A spokesperson explained it will instead have a temporary menorah put up, and an event will take place to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.

Amanda Tragen, a member of Havering’s Jewish community whose ancestors helped build a synagogue in the borough, expressed disappointment with the council’s move.

She said: “All religions should be able to freely celebrate their own traditions and faiths in the UK. We shouldn’t act from being scared; we should be proud to be who we are.”

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell called the move a “grave insult” to the Jewish community in the town.

He felt it is "a matter of religious freedom", adding: "The council supporting such celebration is even more pertinent at this time.

“It would be a grave disappointment to see public menorahs erected all over Essex, Redbridge and north London with Havering being the outlier."

According to the council, hate crimes towards both the Jewish and Muslim community in Havering have increased in recent weeks and said it would be “unwise” to move forward with the installation.

The menorah will be taken down but the council said it will look at a longer-term installation next year.

The spokesperson added: “We appreciate this is a hugely sensitive issue but in light of escalating tensions from the conflict in the Middle East, installing the candelabra now will not be without risk to the council, our partners, staff and local residents.”

Read More: Havering Council raises Israeli flag above Town Hall

The council said when work started on the installation,  "no one could have foreseen the recent international events and we have been fully committed to installing the candelabra".

It categorically denied any claims of antisemitism and said such statements are likely to incite further unrest.

The council, the spokesperson added, continues to stand by local Jewish communities and had raised the Israeli flag after the Hamas attack on October 7 which killed around 1,200 people.

They said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we will revisit next year when we hope that community tensions will have subsided.

"Havering Council does not take sides in the current conflict and regrets the loss of life, injury and distress on both sides.

“We have informed our community and faith partners and will continue to provide support to all our communities and work with the local police to ensure that everyone feels safe in Havering.”