Havering’s Budget and Rishi Sunak: 2023

Havering’s lobbying of government is the triumph of hope over experience. Underfunding is government policy and is non-negotiable. Havering’s Chief Executive said some ministers treated him as if he was a ‘naughty school boy’ (@ 23minutes).1 Naughty like Oliver Twist was ‘naughty’.

Havering’s government grant: 2010 = £70 million

Havering’s government grant: 2023 = £1.9 million

Havering’s outcome:…………….: 2023 = Minus £68.1 million

The Bank of England calculates inflation for 2010-22 at 41.7%2

Therefore 2010’s £70 million in 2022 £££s is £99.18 million

Havering’s real 2023 shortfall is £97.28 million

Rishi’s policies rely on people not understanding maths3

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Cabinet Meeting: 14th December 2022

The meeting had a budget item. Councillors are listed in speaking order. (Starting @ 14 minutes)

Chris Wilkins: Chris doesn’t understand strategy or analysis. His jog-trot through ‘highlights’ was unhelpful.

Gillian Ford: She injected passion into her speech and cares.

Oscar Ford: He gave a very competent review of an OFSTED report. Unfortunately, the prevailing counsel of despair continued.

Graham Williamson: He was woefully unprepared for a budget meeting.

Keith Darvill:  A brief brilliant intervention about the impact of decision-making by the government. His political point was welcome.

Ray Morgon: He’s self-depreciating and as Leader needs to be positive. Cabinet members should be warned about being unacceptably casual.  

Paul McGeary, Paul Middleton and Barry Mugglestone: All three were mute.

Notes

1 Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

2 Inflation calculator | Bank of England

3 So it’s surprising that he’s keen that everyone studies maths until 18 Rishi Sunak wants all pupils to study maths to age 18 – BBC News

Havering’s Million Pound Mistake, 2019-22

Damian White, Havering’s Council Leader in 2019, signed a contract with the MetPolice1 costing a million pounds over three years. He did this for bragging rights in the ‘fighting’ crime Conservative agenda. The contract paid for Havering to have five additional police officers who clearly couldn’t make a difference. The contract wasn’t just about policing, it was also a PR stunt.

Havering is,

“….among the top 10 safest cities, and the 1,978th most dangerous location out of all towns, cities, and villages.”2

The Conservatives’ fantasy is that only they can be trusted to fight crime. Their posturing will cost taxpayers an additional million pounds to the MetPolice GLA precept.3 Havering’s only significant crime area relates to cars. The five police officers can’t make a difference because they don’t have cars. (Police cars were an optional extra in Damian’s contract.)

The RM13 postcode area had 267 offences for every 10,000 vehicles – more than double the national average of 121. 4(my emphasis)

The MetPolice contract is flaky and should wither away. Unfortunately, if it isn’t renewed, Ray Morgon’s HRA/Labour administration will be vilified as ‘Soft on crime.’

Notes

1 FINAL Cabinet report MET s92 Police FINAL.pdf (havering.gov.uk) p5 See also my critique Posts ‹ Politics in Havering — WordPress.com
2 Havering Crime and Safety Statistics | CrimeRate
3 md2954_appendices.pdf (london.gov.uk) item2
4 Havering car crime hotspots revealed – Rainham and South Hornchurch ‘worst’ | Romford Recorder Andrew’s constituency, “Romford was next with a rate of 227 in RM1.” This is almost double the national average.

Havering’s Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee, 4th October, 2022

Ray Morgon has reformed Overview and Scrutiny (O/S) committees. Between 2018 and 2022 they were a ‘pot-of-gold’ for Damian White’s Conservatives. Short infrequent meetings were the order of the day. Ray’s principal reforms reduced the O/S committees from six to two with Conservatives chairing them. This meant they controlled agendas. But Ray didn’t anticipate sabotage.

Robert Benham, Conservative chair, kept his O/S committee in abeyance for five months. The O/S committee has five Conservative members. Three Conservative places are unfilled. Unfilled after five months! It’s disappointing losing elections but this is childish. They’re betraying their voters.

Item 41was a discussion of the outrageous events in Rainham’s Launders Lane. For twenty-two years there’s been abuses there. Havering’s Emergency Planning unit, the Environment Agency and London Fire Brigade are stretched to breaking point by numerous fires and air pollution incidents. Owners have been jailed but abuses continue.

Solution? Unfortunately, the solution is for the borough to CPO2 the land. If they do, they buy the problems. What, the chief officer wondered, is under the ground. They don’t know and finding out could be very expensive.

This item was a direct result of Sue Ospreay’s passionate speech in council. Neither she nor the other two Rainham councillors attended this vital meeting.

Notes

1 Launders Lane Report – OSSC 15th September.pdf (havering.gov.uk) This is a very detailed report showing the level of environmental challenges, criminality and contempt for the council and other agencies having responsibilities for the well-being of the public.

2 CPO = compulsory purchase order

Havering’s Cabinet: A First Assessment

The cabinet complained about government under-funding,1 which is like sailors hating the sea. There was no discussion about the energy crisis, home-working and office accommodation, staffing and retention, interest rates and ways of dealing with any of this in 2023.

Chris Wilkins: (began2) He spoke repetitiously and occasionally lost his place. He neither highlighted pertinent issues nor contextualised them. He offered counsels of despair.

He hasn’t discovered he’s a policy maker.

Gillian Ford: (20 minutes) She leads the principal cost centre, Adult Services. Her brief comments included an anecdote about a quadrupling of staff for a care issue. Typical? Probably not – just pre-emptive shroud waving.

Her remarks were inadequate. Cabinet needed insights on her principal revenue vampire: staffing costs. (pro rata cuts would be £6.5 million of the £19 million needed)

Keith Darvill: (21) Keith didn’t comment on his budget, preferring waffle. Flooding is a significant problem but can costs be subsumed into current budgets? Ambitions needed outlining especially if involving capital and ‘Invest to Save’.

Keith’s speech needed preparing up front.

Ray Morgon: (24) Ray’s interventions gave momentum to the debate. He claimed that if the public understood that 70% of the Council’s revenue went on statutory services, they’d accept a deteriorating environment. Laughably, he thought Conservative MPs would lobby for more funding.

Graham Williamson: (32) His speech included the phrase ‘Perfect Storm’ to describe financial pressures. He was stoical about losing popularity when cuts bite. He worried about the Council losing control to Commissioners on the balanced budget issue.

The best speech of the night.

Barry Mugglestone: (42) He spoke about increasing car parking charges which, surprisingly, isn’t an increase at all – it’s a return to pre-pandemic charges. So that’s all right then.

He read his speech, which other cabinet members should copy.

Oscar Ford astonishingly didn’t speak. He’s lead member for Children’s Services, which destroys everyone else’s budget. Nothing! Not even, ‘Thank you’. (pro rata cuts would be £6.5 million of the £19 million needed)

Paul Middleton: (1:02) He ought to be aware that his budget is likely to be savaged. He supported the budget propositions as being responsible.

Addendum: Government funding 2010-2022

Government funding has declined from £70 million to £1.5 million. This decline began with George Osborne in 2010. If the £70 million had increased with inflation it would have become £96.4 million. The real shortfall is £94.9 million. Conservative governments have increased taxation by outsourcing it to local authorities. Havering’s two Conservative MPs have been the cheer leaders of this policy.

Inflation calculator | Bank of England

Notes

1 Cabinet meeting 28th September 2022

2  Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) Times when they begin speaking, are in brackets

The Queen Elizabeth Memorial Council Meeting, 22nd September 2022

Ray Morgon (@ 7 minutes)1, as Leader, had to get it right and he did. The entire conduct of the meeting was in step with his quiet deferential, but not groveling, opening statement. He didn’t use his entire five minutes, saying what needed to be said with a suitable amount of brevity. It was unrushed and sincere.

Keith Darvill (10 mins) as a former MP had met the Queen and remarked on that occasion. He also commented on her charity and voluntary work and her position in the Commonwealth.

Martin Goode (15 mins) had an interesting comment about the way that Canadians honoured her as head of state. He also had an amusing anecdote of mistaking Princess Margaret for the Queen as a very young child in east London.

The Mayor (17 mins) read a eulogy from the Islamic Cultural Centre before remarking on his work as a fireman at Wimbledon with the Queen present.

Judith Holt (21 mins) made a moving and deeply personal series of anecdotes about the importance of the Queen to her own family. She queued for several hours last week for the laying in state.

Linda Hawthorn (32 ) told a lovely anecdote about the Queen’s visit to the Queen’s Theatre in 2003. She spoke briefly but obviously felt deeply.

Viddy Persaud (38) began by saying she was worried about repetition but then comforted herself by saying (rightly) that on this occasion repetition was appropriate. She was the last speaker.

There were 15 speakers in all and this is a summary of the meeting. I thought the meeting hit the right note throughout, as councillors rose to the occasion.

Note

1 In brackets means the start time. The webcast is here Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

Havering’s 2022 Election: an Unexpected Outcome

Local politics is a cult with a tiny number of activists.1 As a result, local politics relies heavily on these people to finance it, the most important of whom are councillors along with their families and friends. Any significant downturn in their financial status immediately effects their local party.

The 2022 election was a disaster for Romford Conservatives because they were defeated after 20 lucrative years. Damian White and his cabinet lost tens of thousands of pounds in allowances each. Other Conservatives lost smaller, but significant, amounts. Hundreds of thousands of pounds in allowances no longer flow to the Conservatives.2 Romford’s Conservative councillors suffered a lifestyle changing event in May, 2022.3 This reduced their enthusiasm for financing the party.

On the other side of the coin Ray Morgon’s HRA4 have finance they’ve never had before. HRA is a federation which doesn’t have the costs of a political party. Their 2022 poster campaign did, however, indicate a direction of travel. So, it’s possible HRA will become a borough political party. HRA’s junior partner, Labour, have had an increase in councillor allowances with two cabinet posts. This should improve their campaigning.

These unexpected financial consequences could reshape Havering’s political landscape. The Conservatives are starved of money, which could expose them to the mercy of wealthy backers. Another scenario is activists will promote hobby-horses, which might end up being extremism of one kind or another.

Notes

1 John and Philippa Crowder; Oscar and Gillian Ford; Dilip and Nisha Patel. These three families are an extreme example of the cult-like atmosphere. Oscar and Gillian are the most powerful husband/wife politicians since Arthur and Margaret Latham in the 1990s.

2 Romford councillors pick up the basic £10,412 p.a (£239,476 in total so they aren’t entirely bereft and may have a bit left over to contribute towards the party – if they want.)

3 Due to Damian’s pot-of-gold policy virtually every Conservative has lost at least £3,000 per year.

4 HRA = Havering Residents Association

Havering Council Meeting: 13th July, 2022

Ray Morgon’s cabinet has a lot to prove. None have had policy making positions and one’s only been on Council for two months. So how did they do?

Question Time was Ray’s cabinet’s first outing. Classy Conservative questions were a sharp improvement on the tedious HRA efforts we used to endure. There were two standout moments.

Dilip Patel asked about Development (@42 minutes)1. Graham Williamson casually remarked about developing the ‘Green Belt’ in the fullness of time. This is a dramatic policy shift. I wonder if his cabinet colleagues know about it?  Osman Dervish (@53 minutes) asked Oscar Ford about free school meals during holiday periods. He said there won’t be any unless government financed them and then burbled about budget constraints. Ford was unmoved when it was pointed out this meant sacrificing vulnerable children during a catastrophic cost-of-living crisis.

Sue Ospreay (@1 hour10) was emotional about derelict land in Rainham. Morgon said it was a ‘Bad Thing’. They’ll still be wringing their hands in horror in ten years.

Opposing ULEZ2 in Havering (@1:38) was led by David Taylor. Keith Prince’s rant, (@1 hour50) and Judith Holt’s desire to join Essex (@1:52) convinced me some Conservatives are having a mental breakdown. Williamson (@1 hour:55) remarked that 7% of Havering’s death rate was due to air pollution. This is three deaths a week, every week, which is a good argument for ULEZ, I’d have thought.3

There were an unprecedented six Conservatives absent. They included Damian White who’ll be pleased to know his group gave a good show.

Notes

1 Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

2 For ULEZ see Ultra Low Emission Zone (ulez.co.uk)

3 Municipality of HAVERING: demographic balance, population trend, death rate, birth rate, migration rate (urbistat.com)

Ray Morgon’s Cabinet Announced: Who Are They?

After 38 days of ‘wheeling and dealing,’ a cabinet is in place.1 It’s less diverse and older than Damian White’s outgoing Conservative cabinet. Ray has welded together the independent Residents’ Associations.2 He’s also brought Labour into a Working Agreement, making sense of consensus politics. Ray’s done interesting political juggling.

The Cabinet3

Ray and Keith Darvill have had 20 years in opposition. Ray has never succumbed to the Conservatives’ ‘pot-of-gold’ politics. His first act was to reduce Councillor Allowances, which suggests personal integrity. Keith has been a lonely figure following the implosion of Labour in 2002. They’ve both been principal members of Council for 20 years and stand head and shoulders above their colleagues.

Gillian and Oscar Ford are the most powerful husband and wife team since Labour’s Arthur and Margaret Lathom. Oscar (2022) is a complete unknown. He might find scrutiny bruising. For example, is his principal qualification for cabinet being Gillian’s husband? Gillian (2002) has flattered to deceive on many occasions. There always seems to be more unsaid than said. Has she got the inner steel to drive an agenda in a very difficult department?

Paul McGeary (2010), Paul Middleton (2018), Barry Mugglestone (2014) Chris Wilkins (2018) and Graham Williamson (2014) fill the remaining cabinet posts. They’re indifferent speakers but experience will rectify that. Their contributions in committee and council suggests they’re sound. McGeary’s professional profile means he’s amply qualified for his post. Wilkin’s qualification for the Finance post is that he’s a buy-to-let landlord. This is probably insufficient.4

Notes

1 14th June 2022

2 From now on Residents’ Associations will be only referred to by the umbrella title Havering Residents’ Association (HRA)

3 Cabinet structure (havering.gov.uk)

4 mgConvert2PDF.aspx (havering.gov.uk)

Havering’s Winds Of Change: HRA Take Over

The Council Tax meeting, 2nd March 2022, saw Ray Morgon attack the ‘pot-of-gold’ politics of Damian White. HRA produced a detailed analysis of allowances paid to Conservative councillors,1 not all of which were value for money. His ‘compare and contrast’ analysis is unambiguous. Every single additional allowance for 2022-23, will be reduced and some ‘jobs’ deleted altogether. Morgon’s proposals shrink the allowance budget by £218,434.

Unfortunately, £218,434 is too small to make a significant difference in the Council’s multi-million pounds budget.2 Nonetheless I applaud Morgon’s direction of travel. The horrible, insincere Osborne slogan3We’re all in this together’ actually means something in Havering.

Conservative councillors are used to significant supplements to their basic allowance of £10,412.4 They now face a dramatic pay-cut. Damian White’s allowances reduce from £56,317 as Leader to £18,062 as Leader of the Principal Opposition. Former cabinet members lose their £29,356 allowance.5 At least two appear to be full-time politicians, which means they’ll be making major reappraisals of their lives.

The Council has suffered catastrophic financial losses from Covid-19. In addition, central government grant cuts and massive increases in demand for statutory services will worsen the dire financial situation. Morgon’s team have massive challenges facing them but this is a good symbolic start.

Notes

HRA is the Havering Residents’ Association

1 (Public Pack)SUPPLEMENTARY AGENDA Agenda Supplement for Council, 02/03/2022 19:30 (havering.gov.uk) p10

2 Every time the Bank of England raises the interest rate by 0.25% it adds £250,000 to the borough’s interest bill.

3 George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer 2010-16, used this slogan to promote the destructive Age of Austerity.

4 This allowance is unchanged

5 They received this and the councillors allowance of £10,412.

Havering Residents’ Association: Who Are They?

HRA is an umbrella organization, which maintains the legacy identities of Residents’ Associations (RA). The hard political miles over next four years will be very demanding for this arrangement. Having to make policies for the whole borough and balancing spending priorities is challenging.

The political labels that Havering’s Democracy Department uses for councillors illustrates the problem.1 HRA has six councillors not 20.2 Neither the Leader, or his deputy, are identified as HRA councillors. Ray Morgon belongs to the Residents’ Group; Gillian Ford to the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Group.

This isn’t nit-picking.3 Amateurism is lovable, until it lurches into a destructive shambles when people discover that not every decision is applauded.

HRA’s 20 councillors includes five women. Conservatives have nine out of 23, Labour five out of nine and East Havering Residents’ Group none. HRA and Labour have female deputy leaders so women’s issues should, hopefully, get a voice. Gillian Ford has an especial role in this matter. HRA’s female councillors are middle-aged and their life experiences should have sensitised them to sexist injustices.

HRA’s male councillors are mostly old.( see Addendum)4 It should be remembered that Havering is an ‘old’ borough, so this isn’t a complete anomaly.

Ray Morgon has begun consensual politics with his nominees for LGA positions.5  This policy has to be applauded if it’s a sign of things to come.

Addendum: Ray Morgon’s Cabinet

Ray Morgon (60) Leader and professional politician

Gillian Ford (60) Deputy leader involved mentoring councillors (not LBH)

Chris Wilkins (67) Retired Senior local authority officer in housing

Graham Wilkinson (65) Retired logistic manager

Oscar Ford (?) Retired Senior local authority officer in strategy, performance and resources

Barry Mugglestone (?) Retired Ford Motors supervisor

Keith Darvill (74) Solicitor

Paul McGeary (65) NHS estates manager

Paul Middleton (?) Unemployed

Source Romford Recorder 12th August 2022

Notes

1 Your Councillors | The London Borough Of Havering This list is used for this blog. It’s published by the Democracy department of Havering Council and is based on the information given to the Council by councillors. As of 8th June 2022 HRA, as an umbrella organisation, is recognised on the Democracy site.

2 There are two HRA councillors for Emerson Park and Hylands and Harrow Lodge wards. There’s one each for St Andrew’s and Elm Park.

3 Oscar Ford describes his party as the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association. The other two councillors in that ward describe themselves as the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Group. This is bizarre. The three councillors can’t even agree what party they’re in.

4 Councillors ages aren’t revealed by the Democracy Department but photographs offer clues. The Conservatives have the ‘youngest’ group of councillors including Damian White their Leader.

5 Local Government Association. The national organisation for councillors.