Conservatives claim control of Havering Council once more as Cllr Damian White named leader

PUBLISHED: 11:31 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:31 24 May 2018

Havering's Conservative councillors after being elected on May 3. Photo: Ken Mears

Havering's Conservative councillors after being elected on May 3. Photo: Ken Mears


Conservative group leader councillor Damian White has been named the new leader of Havering Council after a tense Town Hall meeting last night (Wednesday, May 23).

Cllr White’s Tory group gained three seats in the May 3 elections to take their number of councillors to 25, but were still three councillors short of an overall majority that would have allowed them to take outright control of the council chamber.

However, during the meeting it was revealed that South Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon-Burton, who ran as an independent candidate in the elections earlier this month, has since joined the Conservatives – taking their complement in the chamber up to 26.

Councillors Brian Eagling, Martin Goode and Darren Wise, all of the Harold Wood Park Residents Association, also backed Cllr White’s leadership bid, meaning that he eventually won a head-to-head contest against Residents Association councillor Clarence Barrett by 29 votes to 20.

All five Labour councillors abstained.

South Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon-Burton, who was elected as an independent councillor on May 3, has joined the Conservative group. Photo: Ken MearsSouth Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon-Burton, who was elected as an independent councillor on May 3, has joined the Conservative group. Photo: Ken Mears

Cllr Deon-Burton was appointed deputy mayor at the meeting, before it was publicly announced he had joined Cllr White’s group, and was later named chairman of the joint venture working party group, while Cllrs Eagling and Goode were appointed chairmen of two of the borough’s committees with Conservative backing.

Havering’s deputy mayor is entitled to an annual allowance of £4,000 on top of every councillor’s basic allowance of £10,208, while most committee chairmen can also claim an additional responsibility allowance of £7,650.

Independent Residents Group councillor Jeff Tucker withdrew his own leadership bid at the last minute to avoid splitting non-Conservative voters.

A procedural motion submitted by Cllr Barrett that would have permitted each leadership hopeful five minutes to address the meeting before any vote was taken was rejected by councillors.

Cllr White, who described his ascension to the position of council leader as “an honour and a privilege”, used his first leader’s statement to promise that his administration will embark upon “a truly transformational programme to deliver ever-improving public services for residents”.

“I passionately believe that the communities that comprise the London Borough of Havering are some of the best in the country, and I am proud to lead them,” he said.

“The largest challenge facing our council will be balancing the budgetary pressures that our authority will be facing over the years ahead, in light of the continued reduction in the Revenue Support Grant and the increased demand for our services.”

The new leader went on to promise that capital investment in the borough’s roads will be one of his administration’s top priorities, along with maintaining high standards of social care for Havering’s elderly residents and helping police to reduce crime in the area.

Speaking to the Recorder after the meeting, Cllr Barrett lamented the fact he was not allowed to address the meeting before the leadership vote took place.

In the speech he would have given, the leader of the Upminster and Cranham Residents Association would have promised to bring a more “inclusive and reflective” kind of politics to Town Hall, and would also have pledged to carry out a governance review to see if a move back to a committee-based system would have improved the borough’s democratic processes.

He said: “The position of leader is without a doubt the most important in local government, and I think it is absolutely appalling that members were not allowed to address not just their fellow councillors, but also the assembled guests and the wider residents of Havering.

“Is democracy dead?”


  • Having campaigned and been elected as an Independent, Mr Deon-Burton is morally bound to resign and allow the electorate of South Hornchurch to decide whether they too wish to change their minds and to be represented by a Conservative Party councillor.

    Report this comment

    Peter Caton

    Friday, May 25, 2018

  • It's a bit rich for the leader to lament being denied a voice for five minutes when his elevation relied upon a defector in Mr Burton having betrayed the electors for the next four years Such opportunism and manipulation disenfranchises residents and brings politics and democracy into disrepute.

    Report this comment

    Shahrar Ali

    Friday, May 25, 2018

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Latest Romford News Stories


In the days when water wasn’t safe to drink, even children drank beer, as Prof Ged Martin explains


Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Readers may not have heard of Sadiq Khan’s planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), but it is set to have a detrimental impact on the hundreds of thousands of people who drive inside the North and South Circulars every day.

Christmas, the time of year when we are pressured to buy things no one wants for people we don’t want to buy for at prices we’re not happy with.

Yesterday, 11:38

Police tasered a man in Collier Row after he threatened officers with a meat cleaver.

Yesterday, 10:00

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 08:00

The discovery that a man who had been jailed for using his position as a police officer to prey on vulnerable women could have been allowed to work at Queen’s hospital without a compulsory background check is worrying both for staff and patients.

Fri, 17:05

A market trader from Newbury Park has been found guilty of torching a £260,000 Ferrari during an arson attack in Emerson Park that was revenge for a business deal gone wrong.


From November, The Mercury in Romford begins to celebrate Christmas. The mall has plenty of gift ideas, fun events and activities for everyone

Vauxhall has completed its sport utility vehicle range with the third, and largest, Grandland X. We put the SUV, now available at Tony LeVoi in Romford, to the test.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” so the saying goes. So if some warm weather is making your conservatory uninhabitable, think about replacing its roof with a flat one and adding a roof lantern instead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Romford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

News from your area

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now