Defecting Havering councillors slammed by new Residents' Association leader
PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 September 2014
Dissenting Residents' Association councillors are acting "for the good of themselves" by creating a coalition with the Conservatives, according to the party's new leader.
The latest round of musical chairs in Havering Town Hall has seen eight Residents’ Association councillors, led by departing leader Cllr Clarence Barrett, split from the group.
They will now form the East Havering Residents’ Association (Ehra) and work with the minority Tory adminsitration, forming an overall majority.
In the May elections, the Residents’ Association (RA) won 19 seats to the Tories’ 22 but a coalition was declined after a party vote.
Upminster’s Ron Ower, Linda Hawthorn and Linda Van den Hende, Harold Wood’s Alex Donald, Brian Eagling and Darren Wise and Cranham’s Gillian Ford will join Cllr Barrett.
Senior posts within the administration could be handed to members of the group, with Cllrs Barrett and Ower thought to be frontrunners.
Though they both stress they can better serve their electorates from the inside, the new RA leader, Cllr Ray Morgon, believes the group acted on self-interest alone, and was not shocked by the news.
He told the Recorder: “I saw it coming, they are not doing it for the good of the borough, they are doing it for the good of themselves.
“People of their wards didn’t vote for Conservative councillors, they voted for RA.”
He also revealed the Harold Wood councillors and Cllr Ower had not attended group meetings for “two-to-three months”.
The move is set to weaken the opposition, which will shrink from 32 to 24, but Cllr Morgon said they were already “in a position to be able to change things.”
Cllr Barrett has rejected claims the group were pursuing personal interests, saying it is “not the case”.
Leaders of the other opposition parties have also had their say.
Cllr Jeff Tucker, of the Independent Residents’ Group, said: “I can’t understand why a leader would leave his group. You don’t desert your ship. It’s terrible.”
Labour’s Cllr Keith Darvill said: “It’s probably in the best interests of the borough there’s a stable administration but I wonder whether people who elected them would be expecting them to be sliding in with the conservatives.”
The split is the latest political drama in Havering. Last year a bitter feud in the Romford Conservatives’ Association saw 13 councillors dumped. Three defected to Ukip, where they were joined earlier this year by three more.