Councillors decide new committee structure and roles at reconvened meeting

Romford Town Hall

The meeting was held after the first half, in which the leader of the council and the mayor were voted in, was adjourned on May 25 - Credit: Archant

More details about how Havering's newly-elected administration will run the borough have been finalised. 

The revised committee structure was passed at last night’s (June 13) reconvened full council meeting, with committee heads also voted on. 

As reported by this paper, Havering Residents’ Association (HRA) and Labour entered into a power-sharing agreement after the May election, with HRA's Ray Morgon voted in as leader of the local authority and Labour’s Cllr Trevor McKeever the mayor on May 25. 

TREVOR McKEEVER

Mayor of Havering Trevor McKeever - Credit: Sandra Rowse

Picking the meeting back up last night, a vote on a slimmed-down committee structure and a reduction in most of the special responsibility allowances (SRAs) was also comfortably passed.

This includes the removal of the highways, adjudication and review, and joint venture working party committees.

It also sees a consolidation of the scrutiny sub-committees into two overarching groups, plus an overview and scrutiny board, which the new administration says will be better-resourced and meet more regularly than previously. 

The streamlining of the committee system, seen as a key early move for the new administration, was questioned by several Conservative councillors prior to the vote. 

Cllr Joshua Chapman said it does not “feel democratic” to slash scrutiny as part of the new structure and Cllr Keith Prince said while he believes the leader "does want to work across all parties in this council”, a consensus “should have been sought” to decide upon the revisions. 

Cllr Morgon pushed back on questions regarding scrutiny, telling the council: “We have no fears about being held to account. We welcome it.” 

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Chairmen and vice-chairmen were also voted into the various committees, with HRA taking the majority share. 

Labour did get a handful, however, including Cllr Mandy Anderson as chairman of the pensions committee and Cllr Frankie Walker as vice-chairman of the people overview and scrutiny sub-committee.  

The Conservatives took three positions, with two Tories chairing the scrutiny sub-committees. 

Member champions - councillors who raise the profile and "demonstrate the council's commitment" to their assigned area, such as young people or equality and diversity - were appointed last.

Three Labour, one Conservative and two HRAs were given those roles. 

Cllr Ray Morgon said he did not see how the HSE could be sure it was getting the full picture.

Cllr Ray Morgon said he did not see how the HSE could be sure it was getting the full picture. - Credit: Archant

In his closing statement, Cllr Morgon said “changing the committee system is the first step to that change”, referring to the “root and branch” review he has promised.  

“We are going to be working with everyone, regardless of what party they are in, to make Havering a better place.”