Council leader: Havering likely to shed two cabinet positions if Tories retain control

Two cabinet posts in Havering Council are likely to be axed if the Conservative party retains control in 2014.

No final decisions have been made, but council leader Michael White told the Recorder it was likely the portfolios of community safety, currently held by Cllr Geoffrey Starns, and children and learning, currently held by Cllr Paul Rochford, would be absorbed by other cabinet members.

In addition, the cabinet member for transformation – currently Cllr Michael Armstrong – will not be needed after 2014 as the �40million of council savings he oversees must have been found by that time.

Such a reorganisation would see the cabinet reduced from 10 members to eight - the smallest it has been since its formation in 2002, when the Conservatives took control.

“We haven’t made a decision on this but it’s clear we can’t continue with the number of cabinet positions we have,” said Cllr White.

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“Education is changing. The government is making local government less responsible for schooling.

“Another one is community safety and electoral services. The council has taken quite a few posts out of democratic services, so I need to ask whether I need a cabinet member for that.”

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Cllr Rochford echoed Cllr White. “As the council’s role evolves, so do the executive positions,” he said.

Cllr Starns said he expected councillors’ workload to reduce by 2014 – even though local government now holds more responsibility for public health than it did when the existing cabinet was appointed.

“These functions will still need to be overseen by a cabinet member but they’ll be incorporated into other portfolios,” he said.

“The role of the council has become smaller. A lot of what we did as statutory duties are going away from us. Other duties are coming in and we need to reflect that.

“We’ve taken vast amounts of money by asking officers to be more efficient. We expect councillors to suffer the same pain. The roles need to be done but they need to be done within a budget.”

Between them, Cllr Starns and Cllr Rochford are paid �65,410 for their cabinet roles, while Cllr Armstrong is paid �30,128 on top of his basic allowance.

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