Feuding former colleagues battle it out to be Havering mayor

Cllr Brian Eagling

Cllr Brian Eagling - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Two feuding former political allies will battle it out to be Havering’s next mayor.

Deputy Mayor Barbara Matthews

Deputy Mayor Barbara Matthews - Credit: Archant

There has been no love lost between Harold Wood’s Cllr Brian Eagling and Upminster’s Cllr Barbara Matthews since last year’s split in the Residents’ Association (RA).

Cllr Eagling and seven colleagues left to form a splinter group of the party, the East Havering Resident’s Group (EHRG), forming a coalition with the Tory administration just months after being elected.

Cllr Matthews has been openly critical of the dissenters and as deputy mayor was expected to follow recent trends and take over from Cllr Linda Trew.

She claims she was told she would be given the role as part of a deal agreed by then-RA leader Cllr Clarence Barrett and leader of the council, Cllr Roger Ramsey, last June.

But on Wednesday, she faces losing out to Cllr Eagling, who served as mayor in 2000 and is expected to have the backing of the Tory administration.

“I had a feeling I would never be mayor. We picked up on it at the local elections last year,” she said. “When Damian White [deputy leader] congratulated Brian.

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“It’s not right for people who have done it before to do it again. It’s a wonderful role and it’s being tossed around that council chamber like a ball.”

Cllr Matthews believes the joint administration will support Cllr Eagling, who she admits she has never got on with.

“Our paths only crossed on the very rare occasion he would attend group meetings,” she said.

“He was Labour mayor last time, he should be called councillor traffic light with all the parties he’s represented.

Cllr Eagling claims he only decided to run for mayor within the last six weeks, and expected a “battle”.

“I don’t know how it will go,” he said. “I just thought it would be good and the group thought it made sense.

“When I did it last time I was younger and I think it would be great for my grandchildren.”

On his relationship with Cllr Matthews, he said: “Don’t even ask that question. You know what we done, but no-one would have left the group if the relationship was healthy.”

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