Councillors spar over Russia and the Middle East at Havering Town Hall

Representatives rejected a motion backing a referendum on council tax

Representatives rejected a motion backing a referendum on council tax - Credit: Archant

Russian sanctions and tensions in the Middle East were dragged into last night’s full meeting of Havering Council, where councillors rejected calls for a council tax referendum.

Putting forward a motion on behalf of the Independent Residents’ Group, Cllr David Durant argued a poll on lifting the rate by two per cent or more was the “only alternative” to cutting services in forthcoming years.

Councillors from every other group opposed the motion, which was rejected by 38 votes to four, with critics taking aim at Cllr Durant’s inclusion of “irrelevant” matters in his proposal.

Cllr Ron Ower (East Havering Residents’ Group, Upminster) said he had always defended the IRG’s right to speak but a council tax referendum “has nothing to do with the Ukraine or the Middle East”.

Cllr Keith Darvill (Lab, Heaton) said if the IRG, which represents in the wards of Rainham and Wennington as well as South Hornchurch, wanted to influence national issues they should put forward candidates at next May’s General Election.

“Why not form the National Independence Rainham Party,” he said.

Cllr Durant’s motion read: “The government claim they are cutting local government funding because ‘the money has run out’, but if so why are they imposing damaging sanctions on Russia and promoting war in the Middle East?”

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Two more motions were discussed and several other proposals were waved through without opposition. One motion – from the East Havering Residents’ Group – called for the extension of a consultation on plans to change City Airport flight paths, and was unanimously supported.

Pick up a copy of Friday’s Recorder for full coverage of last night’s meeting.