Angry scenes at Havering Council meeting as member is dismissed

There were heated exchanges at the Annual Council meeting on Wednesday night, during which the Independent Residents’ Group walked out of the council chamber after their leader was dismissed.

After a break in the meeting following an almost hour long speech by council leader Cllr Michael White (Conservative, Squirells Heath) antagonism began to build between leader of the Independent Residents’ Group (IRG) Cllr Jeffrey Tucker (Rainham and Wennington) and some other councillors.

When Cllr Tucker’s group proposed that Cllr Michael Deon Burton (IRG, South Hornchurch) be elected as the chairman of 14 different committees or sub-committees – which they said was actually an attempt to have him accepted as the chair of one - and were refused the chance to speak on the matter, the atmosphere began to get fractious.

There were other bitter exchanges, including when Cllr Tucker accused the ruling Conservative group of neglecting Rainham residents.

Cllr Geoff Starns launched into a passionate defence of council policy which mayor Cllr Melvin Wallace (Conservative, Mawneys) ordered be cut short.

After a personal comment directed at him by Cllr Ray Morgon (Residents Association, Hacton) accusing him of wasting council time, which Cllr Morgon refused to withdraw, Cllr Tucker said: “Every single time I get up to speak this man’s got something to say. Now I know why you went to sit over there.”

Then he said to Cllr Wallace, who was banging the gavel in an attempt to quieten him: “You can bang that as much as you like, you’re being unfavourable to the opposition.”

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When the mayor later ruled that debate speeches had to be kept to five minutes in length due to time constraints, Cllr Tucker became visibly angry. He had proposed a motion that the council should join-up with other local authorities to lobby the government over reforming grants to councils which, he said, favour urban areas and penalise Havering.

He said: “It’s the most important issue in the borough. If you want to cut it short we’ve got no choice but to withdraw it.”

After he continued to speak after repeatedly being told to sit down, and after a proposal that the IRG leader be removed, Cllr Wallace said: “Would you leave the chamber? Go home.” He then asked for Cllr Tucker to be escorted out.

Several councillors from the Conservative side of the room then started a slow hand clap.

Cllr Tucker said: “It’s a disgrace,” before adding: “One out, all out,” and the entire Independent Residents Group left the meeting.