Havering ‘could make history’ as Residents Association councillors make bid to oust Conservatives from power

Cllr Clarence Barrett

Cllr Clarence Barrett - Credit: submitted

Havering’s re-elected Residents Association councillors believe they have a chance to form their own administration and take control of Havering Council away from the borough’s Conservatives next week.

Cllr Jeffrey Tucker and Cllr Damian White have both put forward their names as the potential next le

Cllr Jeffrey Tucker and Cllr Damian White have both put forward their names as the potential next leader of Havering Council. Photos: Havering Council and Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Cllr Clarence Barrett, leader of the East Havering Residents Group and member of the Upminster and Cranham Residents Association, was re-elected in Cranham ward with 2,817 votes and is now hoping Havering can make history next Wednesday (May 23), by backing him to become the borough’s new leader at the first council meeting since May 3’s elections.

Campaigning on a common platform of “local people for local issues”, Resident Associations (RAs) and independents across the borough polled strongly, winning 24 seats and missing out in St Andrews by 25 votes and in Emerson Park by 4.

The Conservatives meanwhile gained three seats to take their number in the council chamber to 25 – still just short of the 28 needed to claim an absolute majority and take immediate control of the council.

With no single group able to claim an overall majority, the door has opened for Havering Council to become an RA led administration for the first time since its formation in 1965.

Cllr Barrett said: “Huge challenges lie ahead, for example a £30m funding gap, housing, the local economy, social care and children’s services.

“The stakes are high, but the quality and depth of RA members is such that we can bring a kind of politics that is inclusive and reflective of the people we represent while dealing with challenges in a pragmatic, collaborative and sensible way.

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“A fundamental principle of RAs is that we share a vision with our community, we value ideas and suggestions in tackling the issues, big and small, and we would rather listen than dictate.

“While there have been differences in the past, either through misinformation or misinterpretation, lessons have been learnt and lines drawn in the sand.”

The councillor, who was first elected to Havering Council in 2006, would be going up against the Conservatives’ chosen candidate, current deputy leader Cllr Damian White, and Independent Residents Group leader Cllr Jeff Tucker – although Cllr Tucker has previously hinted that he could back out of the race if a more experienced candidate put their name forward.

If RA councillors were successful in their backing of Cllr Barrett, it would be the first time Havering has not had a Conservative leader since 2002.

Cllr Barrett added: “History could be made on May 23, and we want residents to be part of that endeavour.

“We want to see a local council, dealing with local issues by local people, not responding to dictaks laid down by a remote central political office, but responding to the mandate laid down by our local residents.”

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