Romford Conservatives and Boris Johnson

Romford Conservatives were jubilant when Johnson was elected. They immediately talked of the Boris Bounce. No more. Johnson is now an albatross round the neck of Damian White. If he survives it proves how loyal Romford voters are to the Conservatives.

Damian’s Problems

Partygate: ‘Law-breakers can’t be law-makers’. Johnson’s defence of his law-breaking is strange. It’s,

I’m an idiot. I didn’t understand what I was saying in my daily Covid-19 broadcasts.”

Johnson defence

Rishi Sunak’s Wife: Sunak’s billionaire wife has decided to pay taxes in Britain because she’s the wife of the Chancellor.

Cost-of-Living Crisis: If you don’t get a 7% increase in your wages, or benefits, you’re worse off than last year.

Pensioners: Pensions increased by 3%. Every pensioner is 4% worse off. Pensioners are overwhelmingly Conservative voters. The ending of the triple-lock was a betrayal.

Sleaze: Johnson’s £80,000 flat refurbishment was paid for by a donor even though he denied it. He tried to change parliament’s rules to protect his friend Owen Patterson who was paid £100,000 a year to be a lobbyist.

Council Tax: This has increased by 18% since 2018, with 3% this year.1

Conservatives took every Romford seat in 2018 and still didn’t get a Havering majority. If they have any hopes, they can’t afford to lose a single seat. Loyal voters will continue but will flaky Conservatives? One thing’s for certain: Conservatives won’t get the 28 seats needed for a majority.

Note

1 Havering Council Tax: Is It Too Low? – Politics in Havering

 

 

Havering’s Election: 28 is the Magic Number

The Conservatives’ grip on power has been achieved by exploiting Resident Association (RA) votes. RAs don’t want to be the bridesmaid anymore and they’re swaggeringly confident this year is their year. They might be mistaken.

Firstly, there’s more than one RA group. The principal RA group is the Havering Residents Association (HRA). They expect a majority on May 5th. This is unlikely. Havering has elected one majority Administration in 20 years.

Gooshays ward has two RA groups: (1) Harold Hill Resident Association Gooshays, and (2) Havering Resident Association – Gooshays. So, who are the real RAs? Gooshays voters are confused.

In Rainham ward HRA isn’t standing. The Rainham Independent Resident Association (Rainham and Wennington) is a type of RA group.1 South Hornchurch ward is a version of them.2 It’s possible five flaky so-called RA councillors could be elected in May. If they’re elected how long will they cooperate?

Harold Wood RA councillors have kept Damian White in power since 2018. They’re standing for election and are opposed by HRA. Harold Wood has two RA groups who are (1) Harold Wood Hill Park Residents Association and (2) Havering Residents Association – Harold Wood. (Another eight candidates are standing.)

These four wards will elect eleven councillors, who are crucial to HRA aspirations. HRA won’t get 28 reliable votes. They need coalition partners. The best partners are Conservative and Labour councillors. Their key attraction is their reliability in Council. The downside is the Conservatives are led by Damian White,3 which leaves Labour. Will they play ball?

Havering politics continues as a bizarre, wonderful and fascinating soap opera.4

Notes

1 Alby Tebbutt is an ex-Conservative and UKIP councillor; David Durant is a climate change denier and anti-vaxxer; Jeff Tucker makes incoherent speeches in Council.

2 South Hornchurch Ward: Utter Chaos – Politics in Havering

3 Conservatives love power and they might change leader to facilitate the RAs. See Keith Prince vs Damian White: 2022 Conservative Leadership Contest – Politics in Havering

4 If you want to see this sort of thing mocked try John Cleese Life of Brian – The People’s Front of Judea – YouTube

Conservative Candidate: David Taylor (St. Edward’s)

David’s a Facebook politician and Conservative.

Since February Facebook has published ‘David Taylor’s adverts. They don’t mention his fellow Conservative candidates: Councillor Joshua Chapman, cabinet member, and Councillor Nisha Patel. Conservatives always promote themselves as ‘Action Teams’.1 David doesn’t understand ‘Team’.

So, what’s going on?

St. Edward’s ward has been changed by the Boundary Commission and Judith Holt2 has been ousted. David looks like an outsider who’s muscled her out.

David’s Facebook page has a ‘Team’ photo in which he says:

I’m very lucky to be standing with a great team in Councillors Nisha Patel and Joshua Chapman.

There’s a lot I can learn from them. I think smiling is one of them!  14th March 2022

This is sarcasm dressed as praise.

 

The advert above3 is a straight-forward attack on the failings of current Conservative councillors. Joshua and Nisha obviously don’t keep constituents informed about the council. Facebook politicians don’t have loyalty in their kitbag of ambitions.

David’s wrong about St. Edward’s. It isn’t as safe for Conservatives as he, and everyone else, assumes. Is David part of the Romford Conservative’s internecine war that’s going on? Roll on the 5th of May!

Notes

1 Havering’s Election: Collier Row and Mawney Ward, 2022 – Politics in Havering

2 Judith is the President of the Romford Conservative Association and so if she’s been muscled out then they’re an unhappy band of brothers.

3 David’s Facebook page 10th March 2022: also 4th March and 28th February

Havering Council Meeting: 23rd March 2022

This was Damian White’s final council meeting as Leader before the election. He’s matured politically, becoming less frenetic and in charge of the agenda.1

The meeting began with very long-standing councillors being honoured. Councillors O’Flynn, Ower, and Ramsey were treated stylishly. They demonstrate the stability of Havering’s politics. More councillors will follow them out of the door, not all of whom will be pleased.

Question time2 (@1 hour 07 for 45 minutes) was effective. Osman Dervish’s boyish charm carried him through a multiplicity of questions mostly about pavements and pot-holes. (There were nine Resident Association questions.) Roger Ramsey answered Ray Morgon’s question (@1:30 minutes) about Havering’s deficit with magisterial ease showing how much he’ll be missed. Ray’s question was uniquely probing.

The debate on crime was peculiar.3 Councillors demanded more crime reporting using Alice in Wonderland logic. ‘More crime = more police and police are a Good Thing therefore Havering needs more crime reporting.’ Jeff Tucker led the ‘discussion’.

Ray (@2:10) stepped into the gutter. He announced Damian had a driving/drugs conviction. Damian subsequently said he’d struggled with his sexuality and was depressed. This explanation sounds sincere. Ray’s intervention was uncharacteristically sour and unpleasant.

Havering Council meetings end with the National Anthem. They’re usually sung quite appallingly. The sound system on this occasion threw in the towel and it was muted.

Notes

1 Damian is still Leader because Nigel Farage’s ego trip prevented him from becoming an MP. See Damian White Scuppered by Nigel Farage! 12th December, 2019 – Politics in Havering

2 The entire Council meeting can be seen here Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

3 The RA motion is here Final – Motions.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

Romford Conservatives, Sadiq Khan and Clean Air

Romford Conservatives are unhinged. They’re opposing Sadiq Khan’s Clean Air policy because it’s a Labour policy.1 This is political immaturity at its worst. Air pollution causes debilitating illnesses like asthma. Romford Conservatives are defending clapped out 17 year-old bangers to make a political point. And their ‘political’ point is:

We Really Don’t Like Labour And Especially Not Sadiq Khan.

For a once great party to be reduced to petty childish opposition to a Public Health programme is shocking. Winston Churchill (see Addendum) would have been astonished. Clapped out bangers are being charged for the health risk they pose.

Every London Mayor, including Boris Johnson, uses the pricing mechanism to achieve policy objectives such as controlling car parking.2 It’s very effective. Surging demand for electric vehicles demonstrates this. They’re subsidised directly,3 ULEZ is the other side of the coin.

Air pollution is invisible but real.4 Air pollution causes long-term illnesses in young children and the elderly. Havering Council monitors air pollution throughout the borough, especially near schools.5 Romford Conservatives are opposing their own policies by opposing ULEZ. Their immature opposition is demeaning.

Addendum: Clean Air Act, 1956

In 1953 Winston Churchill’s government initiated the Clean Air Act.6 This act was hugely disruptive, and expensive, but absolutely necessary. The ULEZ programme is a 2022 version of Churchill’s Clean Air Act.  It’s harder to sell because air pollution is invisible unlike the smogs of the 1950s. They share one thing: without these policies Havering’s children will suffer unnecessary ill-health.

Notes

1 STOP ULEZ | Romford (romfordconservatives.com) ULEZ = Ultra Low Emission zone

2 Toll roads could be introduced to UK roads as electric car ownership surges (msn.com)

3 There is a direct cash payment and nil Road Tax

4 Toxic air in London caused 1,700 asthma hospitalisations in just three years, study finds | The Independent

5 Air Quality in Havering: Environment Overview and Scrutiny sub-committee 20th February 2019* – Politics in Havering

6 The Clean Air Act | HouseFuel

Building Coalitions: Ray Morgon’s Challenge

Havering is a political nightmare where elections usually end in No Overall Control.1 Resident Associations (RA) are wooed into coalitions. (They’ve supported Conservatives and Labour in the past.) 2022 should be different. Ray Morgon’s RAs could be the majority group and he’ll have to create a coalition.

The recent Council meeting illustrates Ray’s problem. He made an impressive speech showing he understood the principal challenges which he’ll face leading a RA Administration. Unfortunately, two more RA ‘leaders’ were given full status for their speeches. At the March 2nd Council meeting there were three RA leaders recognised by the council.

Martin Goode (RA) supports the Conservative Administration. Martin, and his colleagues have kept the Conservatives in power for four years. If they’re re-elected will Ray ‘bid’ for their support like Damian White did in 2018? Building coalitions involves holding your nose. What will Ray do?

Jeff Tucker (RA) is a maverick. His Council speeches suggest unreliability. His Rainham stronghold is shaky. (He ‘lost’ 600 votes between 2014 and 2018.3) But he’s been a councillor for twenty years and could win in a bad year. Will Ray take the risk?

Labour and Conservative: As political parties they’re reliable. Their leaders can deliver votes and they won’t go off in a huff. But Ray knows they’ll both want their favoured policies endorsed. Will Ray pay the price? Will less motivated RAs go along with ‘horse-trading’?

RAs like being wooed. In 2022 Ray may need to learn political seduction. Damian’s masterclass4 is the template.

Notes

1 Havering London Borough Council elections – Wikipedia The last ten elections from 1982 have had seven NOC outcomes.

2 Havering Council Tax Meeting, 2nd March 2022 – Politics in Havering

3 2018 Havering London Borough Council election – Wikipedia

4 Damian White’s Political Arithmetic – Politics in Havering

Havering’s Elections and the Budget, 2022-23

In the good-old-days voters knew where they stood. Conservatives were heartless; Labour were warm-hearted; Resident Associations (RA) loved pavements. Happy days!

Rishi Sunak’s Stately Home in Yorkshire: Council Tax Band H

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, set Havering’s Council Tax at 3%. He imposed the principal budget item, Adult Social Care, without funding it. This budget is demand led so no-one knows how much it will eventually cost. Councillors do know Havering has the oldest population in London and dozens of Care Homes. Central government has imposed Stealth Taxes on Havering for 12 years.

A £150 million budget1 was nodded through with passionate debate about £70,000 ‘savings’ from Councillors Allowances. This would be allocated to street cleaning. An RA policy!

The 3% Council Tax increase is inadequate. Inflation is 7% rising to 10% by December. The in-coming Administration will have to make some grim decisions in October.

Council officers wrote an analysis of ‘risk’ factors for the budget.2 Item C4 refers to business rates losses, “it is hoped that the Government will fully recognise this in future settlements”.  Interest rates have increased twice in three months. C8 says, “An increase in interest rates will have a direct impact on the Council’s treasury strategy.”  Each 1% increase equals £1 million of additional expenditure. C19 notes a potential loss of “several million pounds” and C22 says government alteration in charging for ‘Green Waste’ will cost £800,000.

The Administration’s 400 job losses will save £7 million.3 They are, “Staffing Reductions Through Efficiency”.  Achieved by removing, “activities that do not benefit residents.” Technology [has] “moved on significantly… [and] efficiencies through modernising work processes and improving service offers to our customers and partners.” A budget based on a ‘wish and prayer’.

Jeff Tucker declared he hadn’t read the budget before speaking for 25 minutes. But it was Rishi Sunak’s Stealth Taxes which needed discussing and he wasn’t present.4 So perhaps Jeff got it right.

Notes

1 Issue – items at meetings – 2022/23 Budget and 2022-2026 Medium Term Financial Strategy | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Microsoft Word – Appendix D – Risk Register (003) (havering.gov.uk)

3 Appendix A Budget Savings.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

4 Havering Council Tax Meeting, 2nd March 2022 – Politics in Havering

Havering Council Tax Meeting, 2nd March 2022

Setting a council tax is a statutory duty. It was dispiriting watching a debate dominated by trivia. The Mayor didn’t realise that he’s expected to terminate out-of-order speeches. Trivia degenerated into drivel.

The single highlight was Roger Ramsey (@ 2 hours 12 minutes in the webcast). Calm, measured and magisterial, he noted irrelevance with a weary acceptance. His focus was the demand-led Adult Social Care. That budget literally can’t be controlled. It’s a statutory obligation. Children’s services are also demand-led with huge expenditure for personalized transport during the pandemic. Massive shortfalls in government funding were highlighted. This was described as a Stealth Tax (Ray Morgon: (@ 50 minutes).

Damian White (@ 25 mins) is turning into a Socialist. He worried about the cost-of-living crisis, environmental funding, the stigma of Food Banks, and substandard KS3 achievements in schools. 400 job losses which will, amazingly, improve service delivery was used as an example of tough decisions. The government’s £150 reduction of Council Tax for bands A-D was welcomed. Belatedly he recognised that Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) mattered in an election year and offered half-baked proposals.

Keith Darvill (@1 hour 35) talked of a perfect storm of increases in Rent, Council Tax, National Insurance and inflation, especially energy costs. Ray Morgon actually made a policy proposal. Savings from reducing SRAs would go to street cleaning. There was a lot of expectations on productivity gains from digital working. This was rubbished by David Durant (@ 3 hours 31) who discussed cyber-terrorism. Another policy proposal was by Jeff Tucker (@ 1 hour 53) who wanted fewer councillors (18) because officers made all the decisions anyway. He also proposed himself as Leader as he had ‘the most brains’.

Graham Williamson (@ 2:32) said savings on SRAs were irrelevant, being gesture politics. Gillian Ford (@2:41) did a tour d’horizon which included refugees, Green Flags in parks and Food Banks. I hoped for more.1

Conclusion

Jeff Tucker is absolutely right that there are too many councillors. This meeting was a disgrace and should be used as a training programme for the incoming Mayor so they understand their role in chairing a meeting. Roger Ramsey is retiring and someone needs to step up and fill his shoes as ‘the only grown-up in the room’.

Webcast

Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

Note

1 Other speakers: Martin Goode, Chris Wilkins, Ciaran White, John Tyler, Robert Benham, Darren Wise, Bob Perry, Joshua Chapman, Graham Williamson, Reg Whitney, Ron Ower, Viddy Persaud and Dilip Patel. There may have been others but my webcast failed at 3 hours 42 and so I missed the last hour.

Havering’s Elections and Facebook

Facebook matters in Havering’s election campaign. The candidates usually use their own account with a running commentary. Bob Perry (RA) is the king of this technique. Labour candidates in St Alban’s ward, Jane Keane and Hope Mendy also use this technique.

Recently there’s been paid content. This is a waste of money.1 The voting statistics2 all deny a ‘value for money’ narrative. The Havering Independent Residents’ Group and David Taylor (Conservative) paid to be viewed across Havering but their target audience is only two of the 18 wards. They should use leaflets. But who’ll deliver them?

Addendum: Three examples from two sample days3

  • Havering Independent Residents’ Group Paid for content. No names or target wards are attached 22 February 2022 A further blog (paid for) shows they’re the Harold Wood 3: 23rd February 2022

Our councillors put the community first. Havering Independent Residents Group’s record speaks for itself in getting roads resurfaced and potholes filled. We will always fight for continued investment in public facilities and services.

  • Councillor Bob Perry’s regular blog on his campaign in Squirrels Heath 21st February 2022
    Myself and HRA colleague Dave Godwin were called out earlier by worried residents of Copthorne Gardens reporting activity of tree clearance on the area protected by TPO’s. When we arrived the activity was actually happening in an adjacent field, after we have a word with the contractors we were satisfied that they were only clearing back hedgerow and brambles so the land could be used as a paddock, we also saw the work plan they were working from and had it confirm that no trees would be trimmed or felled.
    We would like to remind residents of Copthorne Gardens to contact the team if they suspect further activity in the protected area.

 

  • David Taylor paid content. Candidate for St Edwards (he didn’t mention the other candidates) 22nd February 2022
    I’m standing as a Councillor in Romford, to protect our town’s character and to improve local’s lives. Follow my page for updates, policy and more.

 Notes

1 “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” | B2B Marketing

2 Local elections | Election results | The London Borough Of Havering See Squirrels Heath for their 35.27% turnout in 2018.

3 These examples are from my Facebook feed and if there are any others they’re invisible to me. This is another challenge for paid content.

The Power of Positive Politics

Visitors to the Ingrebourne Hill Country Park1 don’t realise that it was once an environmental disaster zone. There were major fly-tipping problems, rat infestation, motor-cycle nuisance and horses were tethered and left over the winter months, many of whom starved to death. In the long hot summer of 1976 major fires happened frequently because of the rotting waste producing methane gas. On at least two occasions the flames rose above the height of the houses.

Airfield ward councillors Ray Emmett (1982-2002) and Chris Purnell (1990-2002) led a campaign for a positive environmental solution, with the Labour Administration. There was a wonderful proposition, which resulted in the country park. Nothing less likely could have been imagined. Derelict land ravaged by decades of abuse was given an enormous facelift to the benefit of the entire community.

But there was a cost. The land was used as a dumping site for inert waste from all over London with hundreds of lorry movements each month. Simultaneously there was gravel winning which also meant a great deal of industrial activity. Ingrebourne Hill was engineered using that inert waste and then capped and sculpted into what it is now. The lake which is adjacent was the result of the gravel winning. Years of disruption for the Park’s neighbours have been richly rewarded.

The Ingrebourne Hill Country Park has mountain bike tracks, a short and challenging climb to the top and also, less energetically, gentle walks through to Albyns Farm. A further cost was the political careers of the Labour councillors who promoted that vision, which took just too long for the voters to see through to fruition.

Note

1 Ingrebourne Valley | The London Borough Of Havering