Debate on the point of motions at Havering Council

Councillor after councillor lined-up to ask what the point of discussing the two main debating topics at last Wednesday’s full council meeting.

The chamber was asked to debate plans for a new Rainham Library – which all sides said they were going to vote in favour of early on.

The discussion – a late addition to the evening’s schedule – saw opposition members accusing the administration of holding the debate just to delay opposition-suggested motions starting.

Later, Conservatives questioned the point of Labour’s motion calling on the council to ‘review its constitutional arrangements to ensure that the commonly-held view that we have an “elective dictatorship” is addressed and reversed.’

In the first discussion, council leader Cllr Michael White highlighted the administration’s achievements in rebuilding or refurbishing every library in the borough.

He said: “I think it’s something the whole council should congratulate us on, for doing a fantastic job.”

Despite the questioning of the validity of the debates, there were some heated moments, including when Cllr Jeff Tucker (Independent Residents’ Group, Rainham and Wennington) mistakenly accused Cllr Barry Oddy (Conservative, Elm Park) of stating that he ‘lives in a shack’.

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Cllr Tucker said that he supported the plans for Rainham Library but that they would be better if they did not have flats on top.

In reply, Cllr Paul Rochford (Conservative, Emerson Park) said: “Cllr Tucker always fights for Rainham, I don’t doubt if Father Christmas was out on his sleigh, he’d be saying ‘come here first and stay here longest’.

“I think he should be more magnanimous about this library.”

The library plans were unanimously approved.

Despite being slammed as a ‘pathetic’ motion by council leader Cllr White, Cllr Darvill’s – which he explained should mean steps are taken to address perceptions that the council doesn’t listen to residents – saw 19 other councillors stand up to comment.

Many of the speakers tried to prove that Havering Council was not a ‘dictatorship’ – appearing not to have listened to Cllr Darvill’s explanation that an elective dictatorship referred to councillors using their majority to wave through policies regardless of the public’s views on them.

The Labour leader did acknowledge that the council operated under rules which he had voted for when previously MP for Upminster.

The motion was defeated thanks to the votes of the Conservative majority.

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