Rainham councillor opposes working with London boroughs because of ‘overcrowding and TB issues’

Cllr Jeff Tucker is against any plans to work with other London boroughs

Cllr Jeff Tucker is against any plans to work with other London boroughs - Credit: Archant

A senior councillor has pleaded for Havering not to work with other London boroughs because of their “overcrowding” and “TB issues”.

Cllr Roger Ramsey

Cllr Roger Ramsey - Credit: Archant

Opposing an upcoming meeting between leaders of nine north and east authorities to discuss joint working on economic development and transport, Cllr Jeff Tucker said they had “nothing to offer”.

Speaking at last week’s full council, where his Independent Residents’ Group (IRG) put forward a motion opposing a combined authority, he gave an impassioned speech supporting joint working – but only with Essex councils.

“We don’t want to work with inner London councils with bad housing problems, bad overcrowding, bad TB issues. They’ve got nothing to offer us. We can outperform all of them.

“We should be more selective. It is a wrong decision, it’s like a marriage. You’re going to marry the first girl that comes down the road but had you waited a little longer that lovely little dolly bird would have come round the corner.

“We should not be jumping into bed with the first offer that comes our way.”

The Rainham politician has always opposed a back office merger between Havering and Newham, saying residents want to see the borough work with Essex authorities.

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In 2013, Cllr Tucker was involved in a race row for saying working with Newham would be like “putting two football teams together – an African team and an English team and saying ‘get on and work together’.” He was acquitted last year by a council standards committee.

And he highlighted Havering’s strong council tax collection record, and Newham’s poor one, as a reason to avoid joint working.

“Why should we be working with council’s that are not performing?” he said. “We don’t suffer TB but many of the councils do [Newham has the highest number of cases in London].”

“We should try to go back to our roots, and that is Essex. Don’t drag us into east London.

Informal discussions between leaders have already taken place, and they will meet next week in Stratford.

Addressing Cllr Tucker’s worries, council leader, Cllr Roger Ramsey, said: “Read my lips. No combined authority, no dragging into east London, what’s in it for Havering?”

He said the scope for economic development in the region is one of the most promising in the country because of the vibrancy of the riverside economy.

“We owe it to our community to understand what’s going on and if we can be part of it,” he added.

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