Havering Council’s new climate cabinet portfolio: What is it and what will it do?

Buckets of recovered waste. Picture: Jacob King

Increasing recycling rates is one of the targets of the new climate cabinet portfolio - Credit: PA

The new climate cabinet position in Havering’s new administration is a reflection of its “aspiration to make things better”, says the councillor to take on the role. 

The Havering Residents’ Association (HRA) and Labour struck a working agreement following May’s elections, with HRA’s Cllr Ray Morgon voted in as council leader. 

With cabinet positions recently announced, the sole change to the previous line-up was the addition of a climate portfolio to be held by Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill. 

Cllr Darvill said the move is part of the administration’s “general aspiration to make things better in that regard”. 

Short-term aims include meeting with the Havering Climate Coalition and improving the Climate Change Action Plan, although some initial long-term plans have also been sketched out.

These include a focus on increasing recycling rates when waste collection contracts are renewed, encouraging greater participation from residents and businesses, educating youngsters in climate-related issues and ramping up home insulation. 

Cllr Keith Darvill

Cllr Keith Darvill - Credit: Archant

Another focus is the refitting of council properties, which Cllr Darvill said he is hoping for support from central government. 

“We will be lobbying for the necessary funds and looking at how we can advance that programme as well,” he said. 

Cllr Damian White, leader of the main Conservative opposition, said while climate-related policy sat with him during his previous tenure as council leader, he is hopeful that the approach of the new administration will be a success. 

“We all hope that they are successful because if they are, we are, as local residents, but also as people who live on this planet. 

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“I am hopeful it will make an impact.” 

Havering council leader Damian White

Cllr Damian White - Credit: Mark Sepple / Havering Council

This comes amid a consultation into potentially expanding the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) into Greater London

Local politicians have largely pushed back against the plans, with councillor and London Assembly Member Keith Prince saying the extension would see communities “cut in half”. 

However, data from the Greater London Authority (GLA) suggests Havering is among the boroughs with the smallest drop in road transport NOx emissions in percentage terms between 2013 and 2019. 

The figures also found more deaths in Havering due to air pollution as a proportion of its population than any other London borough, with a lower estimate of 0.057pc in 2019. 

Leader of the council, Cllr Ray Morgon, was contacted for comment.