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Protestors blast Havering Councillors for ‘betraying the voters’ by backing borough’s Conservatives after being elected for other parties

PUBLISHED: 12:30 24 May 2018

Councillors Natasha Summers, Jeff Tucker and Tony Durdin of the Independent Residents Group with protesters demonstrating against councillors switching sides within the council chamber after being elected. Photo: Matt Clemenson

Councillors Natasha Summers, Jeff Tucker and Tony Durdin of the Independent Residents Group with protesters demonstrating against councillors switching sides within the council chamber after being elected. Photo: Matt Clemenson

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A group of residents held aloft placards and chanted “Tories out” outside Havering Town Hall last night (May 24) amid claims some independent councillors were “betraying voters” by propping up a new Conservative administration.

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

The demonstration was organised in the wake of the news that four councillors who ran in this month’s elections as independent or Residents Association candidates were backing the Conservatives to help elect Councillor Damian White as the new council leader.

Bearing banners that read “don’t betray the voters” and “vote independent, get independent”, the residents were there to express their discontent at what one described as “the dirty and underhand tactics” that had been at work behind the scenes since the Conservatives failed to win an overall majority on May 3.

During the meeting, South Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon-Burton, who was elected as an independent candidate in South Hornchurch, was revealed to have joined the Conservative group, and was named deputy mayor.

Cllr Deon-Burton was elected with 1,312 votes in his ward, the second highest share – the nearest Conservative candidate only won 634, coming behind all three Labour nominees and the two other Independent Residents Group councillors who won seats.

Sue Ospreay, who ran as an independent candidate herself in Rainham & Wennington and missed out on a seat on the council by just 68 votes, described Cllr Deon-Burton’s actions as “unforgivable”.

She said: “It’s like being selected for the England football team and then playing for France, it’s a joke.

“These councillors complain about low turnout at elections and then wonder why, and it’s because people don’t believe in politics when things like this go on.”

Another protester told the Recorder: “If he’s now a Tory then surely he should have to stand for re-election as a Tory?

“The people of South Hornchurch did not vote for the Conservatives, so now [Cllr Deon-Burton] should do the right thing, stand down and run a new election to let people be represented by the party they voted for.”

Cllr Deon-Burton has been approached for comment.

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