New Havering Council leader to be elected tonight

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

The new leader of Havering Council will be elected at the council meeting tonight.

Two councillors with a combined 24 years of Town Hall experience between them will go head-to-head in the race to be named leader of Havering Council.

First elected in 2010, Conservative councillor Damian White has been deputy leader of the council for the last four years and represents Squirrels Heath ward, where he won 2,392 votes on May 3.

Tonight (May 23), the council will convene for the first time since the elections – when the borough’s Conservatives gained three seats but just fell short of claiming a majority – and members will vote on who they wish to be named council leader.

Cllr White has been put forward as the Conservative’s choice, but leader of the Independent Residents’ Group, Cllr Jeff Tucker, has also put forward his name for contention.

Cllr White told the Recorder: “I have been involved in local politics in Havering for the last 18 years and all I am concerned with is ensuring the best possible provision of frontline services for the people of Havering.”

He added: “The leader of the London Borough of Havering is probably the best role that anybody could ever have, and I’ve been working towards being in a position to be considered for it my entire career.

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“It was with immense pride and humility that I put forward my name to become Havering council leader.”

“Although we didn’t gain enough councillors to claim an overall majority I think the people sent a clear message that Havering is a true blue borough, and has fully backed .

“Now the elections are behind us, the time for party politics is over and all councillors need to begin building a consensus together to ensure that we rise to the challenges of the next four years.”

But Cllr Tucker, who will have represented Rainham and Wennington for 20 years by the end of this term, insists on democratic principle that no one should be named council leader after standing unopposed.

He told the Recorder: “I’ve been a councillor for 16 years and if no one else is willing to throw their hat into the ring, then I will.

“Cllr White has had a very bullish attitude in his role as housing cabinet member and I think there are other members on the council who could do a better job than him.

“If, by next Wednesday night, another candidate has put their name forward who I think would make a better leader I would step down, but it’s not right that no one stands against him.”

And the veteran councillor, who was backed by 1,387 voters, vowed to make big changes should he win the backing of enough non-Conservative councillors next week to be named leader.

He added: “I’d make sure that, no matter what party they were from, whichever councillor was the best person for the job was given that position.

“My administration wouldn’t take control, it would make sure that the people in charge of making decisions were the ones with the best experience and background to do so.”