Havering Councillors in snub over Alby Tebbutt Alderman vote

Former Tory chairman Alby Tebbutt

Former Tory chairman Alby Tebbutt - Credit: Archant

There were angry scenes at Havering Town Hall after a vote denied a former councillor the title of Honorary Alderman of the borough.

Alby Tebbutt says that he was used as a “political weapon” against the Conservative party at the annual meeting of the council on Wednesday.

He said: “Never in the history of the borough has anything like this been so embarrassing. It is supposed to be a non political issue but they were using me to get back on the Conservatives. It was just chaos.”

Alby, who served on the council for 24 years was nominated for the award by the Conservative administration.

He was one of two people being put forward for Alderman and was at the meeting with his wife and grandchildren expecting to receive the honour.

But when the vote on his acceptance – traditionally a formality – was taken, it received only 31 votes in favour to 18 against as opposition councillors sided against him.

That meant Alby’s nomination could not be passed because there was not a two-thirds majority of support. The result was met by cries of “disgusting” and “shame” from Conservatives directed at opposition councillors.

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The decision prompted Alby’s son Cllr Barry Tebbutt (Con, Brooklands), to walk out of the council chamber.

He said: “It is embarrassing that we had a situation where my sister, my mother, my wife and all the grandchildren had turned up to see my father get an award that he had worked tirelessly for – and then for them to say ‘no thank you, we have changed our minds’.

He said leaders on all sides should have discussed the vote before “making the decision to bring a member of the public into the chamber and embarrass them”.

The vote had followed light hearted reminiscences by councillors of working with Alby who was often a controversial figure in the council chamber.

Cllr Jeff Tucker (Independent Local Residents’ Group, Rainham) said: “Alby has never taken anything that happened in the council chamber to heart and has always shaken my hands on the outside, regardless of what has happened in the town hall.”

In reference to the former councillors battle with squirrels who chewed through electric cables in his garage, he aded: “Alby is like cheese – you either love him or hate him, but you wouldn’t love him if you were a squirrel.”

Cllr Steven Kelly (Con, Emerson Park) added: “Alby has been an inspiration to us at times and at other times he has been the despair of us.”