Havering’s Residents Associations propose alternative budget ahead of council meeting
PUBLISHED: 15:23 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 25 February 2020
Havering’s opposition groups have put forward an alternative budget calling on the borough’s Conservative administration to cut councillors’ allowances and fully reinstate 30 minutes’ free car parking in the town centres.
The council recently announced in its budget proposals that it would be reinstating 30 minutes of free car parking in the borough's on-street pay and display bays from April 1.
Havering's Residents Associations (HRA) are calling for the 30 minutes' free parking to be reinstated in all car parks.
Councillor Gillian Ford said: "We are pleased the Conservative administration have listened to the HRA by adopting a number of our previous budget options, despite the leader, councillor Damian White suggesting our budget was not credible and the ludicrous sound bite that we were and will be cancelling Christmas, a national holiday.
"They should continue to follow our lead, listen to the businesses and residents, and reinstate the 30 minutes' free parking as we intend to do with our alternative budget."
The HRA suggests saving £167,000 by restructuring the Councillor Allowance Scheme and the Overview and Scrutiny Sub-committee groups.
Other proposals include the removal of Havering's Living Magazine to save £156,000 and saving £70,000 with cuts to communication salaries.
Leader of the opposition, cllr Ray Morgon said: "Local businesses and residents have questioned why £37,000 of tax payers' money is spent solely on switching the Romford Christmas tree lights on.
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"The HRA proposes the removal of this fund but is retaining Christmas events held across the borough.
"As well as the £37,000 for switching on the Romford tree lights, Romford receives an additional £49,000 for Christmas events, compared to £3,748 for Upminster, £3,500 for Collier Row, £600 for Hornchurch and £100 for Elm Park.
"We know how much our residents enjoy the town Christmas events but recognise the council needs to be much smarter at attracting sponsorship, especially as residents see this as the least important area, according to the 2019 public survey."
The administration announced its budget proposals on February 5, which include a 20 per cent discount on all parking charges paid by residents using a new Havering parking app and a £3.5million cash injection boost for additional health visitors, community nurses and nursery nurses to improve services for children under five and their families across the borough.
Leader of the council, cllr Damian White said the council had "listened and learned" to people's concerns over the car parking changes that came into effect in April last year.
He said: "We now have bigger issues to solve together than parking.
"Our high streets are changing and we need to make sure they change in a way that's right for Havering."
The HRA has had its alternative budget agreed by the chief finance officer.
The amended budget will be put forward at the full council meeting on Wednesday, February 26 by cllr Morgon.