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Havering Council approves 2020/21 budget with nearly 4pc council tax increase

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:36 27 February 2020

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall

Archant

Councillors have voted to approve a budget which will see council tax rise by nearly 4 per cent and increase elected members’ basic allowances for the first time in 12 years.

Havering Council debated budget proposals for 2020/21 at a full council meeting on Wednesday, February 26.

The administration's plans include raising council tax by 1.95pc with a social care precept of 2pc, bringing the total to 3.95pc.

Council leader councillor Damian White said: "This is a budget the protects frontline services, it's a budget that proposes more homes for local people and more care for vulnerable people.

"The most two controversial areas - changes to parking and reduction in library hours - were decided [last year] as a result of changes to government policies.

"[The decision] was taken out of our hands.

"I think it's right we have a greater focus on the corporate side and how we're going to make required savings to deliver those services.

"We change, we evolve and we support our residents."

Cllr Osman Dervish supported the leader's statements on improvements that had been made since last year.

"I'm glad to see alot of positive work has been done and a lot of positive work will continue to be done through this budget," said cllr Dervish.

"As we know there has been frustration about our parking policies, however at that point in time the budget crisis we were facing we had to come up with a decision no one wanted to make.

"Following that we've been listening to residents and that has brought out some interesting points.

"What Hornchurch wants and what Upminster wants are two different things."

Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of the Residents' Group introduced the Havering's Residents Associations (HRA) alternative budget at the meeting.

He called the Havering Living magazine an "army of propaganda" and said the council could find a cheaper way to communicate with residents.

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Speaking about the administration's proposed changes to members' allowances, he said: "Our model would like to reflect the work load and responsibilities people have rather than an arbitrary figure."

He also disagreed with the council's planned spend on the Christmas lights switch-ons.

"£50,000 spent in Romford and how much in Hornchurch - £600?" said cllr Morgon.

Car parking charges was a hot topic during the debate as the HRA's budget suggested reinstating 30 minutes' free parking in all car parks.

The borough's Labour group leader, cllr Keith Darvill said: "It's quite clear from those of us that visit Hornchurch and Upminster - these shopping areas have been impacted adversely.

"For that reason we will support the RA's proposed budget."

Cllr Linda van den Hende and cllr David Durant raised concerns about plans to increase the deputy's mayor allowance.

"When I was deputy mayor I did 135 events and as mayor we do over 600," said cllr Van den Hende.

"Six hundred events equals £12,000 and 135 equals £8,000?

"I find that really hard to come to terms with. We propose to keep it at £4,000."

While cllr Durant said: "Executive models allow the council leader to act in an arbitrary way.

"He must take full blame for the parking fiasco that has brought the council into disrepute."

Cllr Dennis O'Flynn took issue with the council's road repairs programme.

He said: "I've seen the figures for road repairs and apart from Briar Road estate in Harold Hill, I haven't seen much evidence of road repair or improvement.

"Where are the CCTV cameras that we pay for?

"We've even had a statement from the Metropolitan Police who say the cameras are there but are not good enough to pick up the perpetrators and wrongdoers in our country."

The Conservatives' proposals were approved by 29 votes to 23.

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