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Havering Council backs EU 'Out' vote

PUBLISHED: 00:31 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:41 28 January 2016

Cllr Lawrence Webb

Cllr Lawrence Webb

Archant

Havering Council has tonight become the first in Britain to back the EU "Out" campaign after a controversial Ukip motion was passed.

Following a two-hour debate at the town hall, members voted by 30 to 15 that Havering would be better off outside of the EU.

Many councillors expressed their disappointment that the motion was even being discussed in place of local issues, which were skipped and ultimately left out of the meeting due to the debate over running.

But victorious Ukip leader, Cllr Lawrence Webb, defended the motion, and told the Recorder it was the outcome he expected.

“I’m very pleased,” he said. “It’s a fantastic result and it was a full and frank debate with views from both sides.”

He suggested the groundbreaking vote could lead to other local authorities following suit.

He added: “I believe many more councils will take up this issue as they have to make difficult decisions about cuts to services and the level of council tax.

“It is important to understand the facts and make an informed decision.”

His controversial motion read: “Due to the negative impact that EU directives such as the agency working time directive and EU procurement rules have on the ability and cost of Havering Council to fulfil its obligations, this council agrees that Britain would be better off outside the European Union.”

During the debate, a small group of councillors, including ex-Labour MP Cllr Keith Darvill, spoke in favour of staying in the EU, but the majority in opposition simply said it wasn’t for the council to decide.

Speaking before tonight’s meeting, Ivana Bartoletti, Havering & Redbridge’s Labour candidate for the London Assembly, argued the case for staying in the EU and told Havering Council to focus on its own problems.

“Staying in Europe would certainly benefit the people of Havering in terms of supporting the economy and local business, decent conditions for workers and opportunities for young people to study and train in other European countries.

“I’d encourage Havering council to focus on Havering’s own crises. Residents would want the council to work with the police to tackle the surge in burglaries and address the issue of rough sleeping, which is the result of the Tory policies.”

Visit the website throughout the day for more on the result and pick up the Recorder tomorrow for a full report on the meeting.

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