Tory mole challenges council leader to live radio debate over secretly recorded ‘gerrymandering’ meeting
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:07 06 August 2020
An ex-Tory councillor has challenged Havering’s council leader to a live debate over gerrymandering allegations.
Bob Perry secretly recorded council leader Damian White discussing plans to secure “politically advantageous” boundary changes, weeks before Cllr Perry quit the Conservatives over alleged “dictatorial behaviour”.
The recording is now under investigation – but Romford MP Andrew Rosindell this week dismissed it as “fake news”, alleging Cllr Perry had “twisted it” because he was “disgruntled” at not receiving a cabinet position.
He made the claims when questioned on Time FM over part of the recording which implied his involvement.
Cllr White was recorded saying: “We’ll be maximising our councillors in the areas we can win. So within the confines of Andrew’s constituency, we go from 21 to 24 seats... Andrew Rosindell has come in and looked at them and checked them out... We’ve come up with a set of proposals that I think are really politically advantageous.”
Outlining plans to split areas unlikely to vote Conservative into fewer wards with larger populations, he added: “What I’ve tried to do is make sure all Conservative wards are slightly below the average but all current non-Conservative wards are over the average.... So, for instance, Gooshays by five or ten per cent over. Whereas Squirrels Heath, we will have five to ten under.”
But Mr Rosindell responded: “I’m afraid this is all complete and utter nonsense... There is nothing untoward that has taken place whatsoever... It’s fake news. It’s absolute rubbish... Of course political parties put forward ideas that they think would be beneficial to them. That’s what happens in every boundary review with every political party.”
Cllr Perry, who denied ever wanting a cabinet role, said Mr Rosindell was misrepresenting the issue. He said the complaint was not that the Tories had responded as a political party, but that they had used council processes and resources to push through a political proposal as a council submission.
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In an open letter, he proposed a live radio debate with Cllr White, “for the public to hear the truth, not the spin put out by himself and Mr Rosindell.”
Asked to comment, Cllr White said he was “focused on the health of the borough and preserving excellent council services at a time of national crisis”.
CORBETS TEY FACES RAINHAM TRANSFER
The Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association said it was “shocked and confused” by plans unveiled by the boundary commission.
The commission has published a scheme incorporating proposals by Havering Council and others. The public has 10 weeks to respond.
The residents’ association said plans included moving parts of its area into a different ward, called Rainham and Wennington.
In a letter to residents it wrote: “The area... proposed to transfer includes Corbets Tey Village. There is no direct public transport link from our area to Rainham. The commission also wish to reduce the number of councillors from three to two... We will be making very strong and robust objections to the commission to stop this.”
View and respond to the proposals at: https://www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/greater-london/greater-london/havering.
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