New top council jobs for Havering Tories will cost taxpayers £60k per year

Havering council leader Damian White

Havering Council leader Damian White confirmed that he was creating two new cabinet positions. - Credit: Mark Sepple / Havering Council

Borough leader Damian White is set to create two new jobs for members of his party at Havering Council, costing taxpayers almost £60,000.

Cllr White said on Monday, January 10, that he needed two extra cabinet members – but rivals accused him of trying to shore up his own position in his party.

Cabinet members receive “special responsibility allowances” of £29,356, plus their basic allowance of £10,412.

Cllr White said one new cabinet member would take charge of regeneration.

“Regeneration currently sits with myself and is a significant amount of work,” he said.

“I have been doing it alongside my other roles. We are now getting to the point where we will need someone dedicated.”

The other new cabinet member, he said, would “focus on public protection, to drive forward all the reforms that are needed within the police, CCTV upgrades.”

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Viddy Persaud, currently in charge of public protection, will take over internal council transformation, he added.

Cllr White said the councillors chosen for the new roles would be announced later by the local authority.

Tory-turned-independent Bob Perry alleged the move came ahead of an anticipated leadership challenge – a claim echoed to the Recorder by a senior Tory source.

“Given the in-fighting in Romford, I wouldn’t be surprised if a challenge came very soon,” said Cllr Perry.

Gillian Ford, chair of the Havering Residents’ Associations, added: “I’m absolutely appalled. There is a deficit in the council budget and he is looking to increase cabinet allowances.

“We don’t have any direct powers or control over the police, so why would we be creating a cabinet role for it?"

Cllr White said he would not comment on speculation about a leadership challenge.

“I don’t want to respond to that,” he said. “I like to think we are all very much a united team.

“We have one of the smallest cabinets in the country and each cabinet member has a significant workload, particularly myself – certainly, the largest cabinet portfolio that any cabinet member at Havering has ever had.

“When I became leader, I combined three portfolios – but it’s just not sustainable, doing three cabinet roles myself.”