Because Havering doesn’t have Proportional Representation, Romford Conservatives rule the roost. Out of 207,311 votes cast, the Conservatives had 37% of the vote (75,008) giving them 25 seats. Damian White, Leader of the Council, found himself without a majority. Tinkering with the allowance budget solved this problem.1
Resident Association (RA) councillors love over-hanging branches, cracked pavements, broken street lights and untidy bin collections and they’re politically naive. Damian understood this and knew the RAs were his route to a majority.
John Mylod (St Andrews) fell out with fellow RAs. He joined the Conservatives to Damian’s delight and split the RA vote, keeping his seat.
John Mylod: Chair of Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Responsibility Allowance £14,418 (All members get a councillors allowance of £10,208 p.a. in addition to a responsibility payment)
Michael Deon-Burton (S. Hornchurch) was elected as an Independent and two days later became a Conservative. Michael then took the offer of a glittering prize.
Michael Deon-Burton: Deputy Mayor – Responsibility Allowance £4,000
But John and Michael weren’t enough. Damian needed more. Three Harold Wood RAs were a juicy prize. The three RAs support the Conservatives so Havering can have a strong and stable administration.
Brian Eagling: Chair of Highways Advisory Committee – Responsibility Allowance £7,650
Martin Goode: Chair of Audit Committee – Responsibility Allowance £7,650
Darren Wise: Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Responsibility Allowance £14,418
Damian’s political cunning strengthened his position in the Romford Conservative party. He’s now being tested by the Melvin Wallace affair. Which RA is next in line for his seductive ploys if Melvin goes maverick? An elderly RA bed-blocker who fancies a supplement to their pension? I’ll bet Damian knows.
1 See http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/s30715/Report%20-%20Special%20Responsibility%20Allowances.pdf for the full details.