Opposition leader resigns to head up new coalition party in Havering Town Hall
PUBLISHED: 12:53 23 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:26 23 September 2014
The leader of the Havering Residents’ Association has resigned from post and party and will lead an eight-strong team into a coalition with the Conservatives, creating an overall majority in the process.
Cllr Clarence Barrett told the Recorder of his decision late last night.
It comes after his former party triumphed in the May elections, winning 19 seats and breaking the Tory stronghold.
After a brief power struggle his Residents’ Association (RA) decided against forming a partnership with the Conservatives, who won 22 of the 54 seats and have since been ruling with a minority administration.
At the time, Cllr Barrett suggested a coalition would create “decision-making paralysis” and hinder the process.
But in the wake of proposals to slash the budget by £45million, the Cranham councillor will now head up a new party, believed to include eight Residents’ Association (RA) councillors from Upminster, Cranham and Harold Wood, to work closely with the Tories.
In his letter of resignation, sent to the Recorder, he wrote: “I believe the people of Havering voted for a strong Residents’ Association voice within the administration, and that’s what they should get.
“We can no longer sit on the sidelines when there is work to be done.
“By pooling our expertise in a sensible working relationship, we will be better able to meet the challenges ahead and, against a backdrop of unparalleled budget cuts, achieve the best possible outcomes for residents across the whole of Havering.
“We will equip this council with stable leadership at a crucial time. Where difficult decisions are to be made we will provide moderation, pragmatism and a desire to do what we have always stood by, to put the interests of our residents first and foremost.”
The letter also reveals his disagreement with RA colleagues who decided against the coalition in May.
He wrote: “As leader of the Resident’s Group and a firm believer in its democratic principles, I defended that decision in public; but have remained deeply uneasy about the direction we took.”
More to follow.