Investigation launched into 'serious' racism allegations at council

Havering Council - Romford Town Hall

Havering Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Havering Council is investigating “serious” allegations from a whistleblower that residents were denied access to services based on their race.

A dossier has been handed to the chief executive detailing 10 instances in which the council has been accused of acting inappropriately.

Chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert said he was “very concerned” by the information, which concerns Havering's children’s services, social services and housing departments, adding that the authority is taking the allegations "extremely seriously".

The testimony was delivered days before a “damning” report found racism and sexism had allegedly become “somewhat normalised” at Havering Council.

Mr Blake-Herbert's office is now setting up an urgent meeting with Labour councillors Keith Darvill and Tele Lawal, who co-authored the report with a former council employee.

Havering councillors Keith Darvill and Tele Lawal

Labour councillors Keith Darvill and Tele Lawal have delivered a dossier to Havering Council, containing a whistleblower's allegations of racism. - Credit: Havering Council

“They [the former council staff member] have given evidence within the report of residents who were being discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity,” said Cllr Darvill.

He said the allegations included racist comments being made about residents.

“When they tried raising complaints, they felt they were being ignored or discriminated against,” Cllr Darvill continued.

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After securing a job at another council and leaving Havering, the source contacted Cllr Lawal.

They remain afraid to provide their name, fearing professional repercussions, but helped the two councillors draft the report through a series of meetings.

“The report provides detailed information about particular cases,” said Cllr Darvill. “Individuals are named. The council should be able to identify each case and answer it.”

In the report, the former employee alleges that after they raised concerns, “the team made a complaint about me and proceeded to all stop talking to me”.

Mr Blake-Herbert said: “We are very concerned about the issues raised and will be carrying out investigations in line with our HR policies.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

“The council always takes reports of this nature extremely seriously and will not tolerate any type of discrimination within the organisation or the wider borough."

For more, read:

Report: Council has 'disturbing' culture of 'normalised' racism and sexism

Inquiry launched into race relations at Havering Council

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