Havering: The fight to tackle knife crime and save the lives of young people Councillor Tele Lewal

“Young people should not pay the price for austerity with their lives” – Labour Party Leader

Across the capital, senseless killings have shocked communities and the recent surge in knife crime has led me to evaluate the policing, council services and community efforts to tackle youth violence in the London Borough of Havering.

70% of police funding comes from the Tory government. Since they came into power in 2010, our police have been dealing with eight years of consecutive cuts. The impact of reduced funding from the Tories has resulted in the following:

– Over 3,000 PCs axed,
– Over 3,000 PCSOs gone
– 5,000 civilian staff reduced &
– The Metropolitan Police has had to make £850m in savings
– Funding to national police commissioners has fallen by 30% in real-terms since 2010-11
– Under a Labour Government we had over 32,000 MET officers, we now have under 27,000 MET officers – for a growing population

Last year, the National Audit Office (NAO) published an in-depth review covering police funding across England and Wales which can be found HERE. In summary, it called for the Tory government to WAKE UP. The report highlighted that the situation “could get worse” if the Home Office does not “direct resources to where they are needed.” The NAO report accused the Home Office of a “light touch” approach, with falling funding and staffing levels in the last eight years contributing to INCREASED levels of “high harm” crimes.

Metropolitan Police Chief, Cressida Dick recently said: “I think that what we all agree on is that in the last few years police officer numbers have gone down a lot, there’s been a lot of other cuts in public services, there has been more demand for policing.” She added, “I agree that there is some link between violent crime on the streets obviously and police numbers, of course there is, and everybody would see that.”

Well, not everyone, and certainly not our Prime Minister, Theresa May who stated there is “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers,” and accused leaders who are speaking out for their grieving communities of “crying wolf.” I guess the Prime Minister has not had the time to read the NAO report or speak to the MET Chief.

The Prime Minister is relatively busy handling Brexit negotiations so positively well and throwing away £33 million of tax-payers money, which could have been invested into tackling youth violence, but was instead paid out to Eurostar thanks to the sheer incompetence of the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling.


1. Report all crime to the police, so we can receive further resources in Havering

If residents want more police patrolling the wards of Havering, then residents need to report every crime, in order, for this Tory government to know that we have real safety concerns in Havering because for some reason they don’t seem to understand despite the below increase since 2014 (stats available on Havering Council’s website):

As a member of Havering Council’s committee which looks at policing and community safety in the borough, I have been informed by the police and council officers who attend the meetings that “Havering residents, unfortunately, are not reporting as much crime as they should be.” If you do not report crimes for what-ever reasons then Havering will always have relatively lower crime figures compared to inner-London (check the MET data), and we will not receive the policing/funding for the services we critically need, because we are not seen as “priority” to the Tory government, despite the above stats.
Oh, and there is proof to this…
In November 2011, the Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) report was published, which was led by former Home Secretary, Theresa May. The reported identified 29 areas nationally facing the biggest challenges in relation to youth violence.

Out of the 29, there were 18 London boroughs identified as part of the EGYV work programme who received funding ranging from £195k-344k for 2012-13. Since then an additional 23 areas have been added to the list of EGYV areas, of which Havering is one.

One would think as Havering has been deemed as an area of concern regarding youth violence, we would receive additional funding from the EGYV. Unfortunately, our young people’s lives in Havering does not matter to the Tory government. Havering has NOT received any EGYV funding despite being added to the EGYV list and the following changes in the borough:

• Since 2011, there has been an inward migration of gang members and offenders involved in serious youth violence into Havering
• In 2014, Havering borough was the third largest importer of gang members identified by the Metropolitan Police Trident Gang Crime Command matrix
• Havering has the 10th highest rate of serious youth violence compared to the whole of London

The reason for Havering not receiving the funding, according to the Tories was because Havering has “lower levels of serious youth violence” (not a priority).

Let me understand correctly, we need to have more young people murdered in Havering, before we receive the additional resources? What a flawed approach. surely, early intervention would make more sense.

MET Tri-borough – Mayor of London

In the past year we merged with Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham to form a new Tri-borough police unit. A decision the Mayor of London had to make across the capital because the MET have to save £325m-400m by 2022 (a result of cuts from the Tories).

How did this impact Havering in tackling youth violence?

Well, Havering gained a Gangs Unit, which we did NOT have before, this has enabled the police and Havering Council to target the highest risk gang nominals across all three boroughs.

Havering Council was also able to RELAUNCH the Serious Group Violence (SGV) panel in August 2017 to work in conjunction with the Gangs Unit and share vital intelligence. This leads me on to Havering Council’s work.

2. Engage and support Havering Council’s work to tackle knife crime

Here’s a breakdown of young people in Havering charged with carrying a weapon (not exclusive to knife carrying) in the period 2015-2018 (data available on Havering Council website).

The year 2017-18 was the first time that Havering had a weapon offender aged 11-years-old. Let’s be clear about why that is; eight years of Tory cuts to policing, youth services, mental health, education and other vital public services.

Offensive Weapons Bill and Public Health Model

In response to the above, the government recently introduced the Offensive Weapons Bill which is currently passing through parliament and will update laws relating to the sale, delivery and possession of and threatening with offensive weapons, including firearms, knives and corrosive substances.

Part of the bill will include new preventive measures, such as the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders, basically, an “Asbo-style order.” I welcome the bill, but I am interested to see how the powers will be exercised when police numbers are failing, as well as cuts to services.

Home Sectary, Savid Javid announced that the government would also take a ‘public health’ approach to tackle youth violence – similar to Glasgow. Meanwhile, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock appeared on the radio and didn’t seem to know this was the plan.

He told LBC Radio: “I think if you try to say that knife crime is a public health issue, it implies that there aren’t individuals who are personally responsible for these terrible crimes and you’ve got to start from the point of the perpetrator needing to be brought to justice.”

Responding, Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, said:

“It is disturbing that the Health Secretary doesn’t seem to be aware of his own Government’s strategy to tackle violent crime.

“Rather than taking real action to address the national knife crime epidemic that has arisen on its watch, the Government’s own strategy has been revealed to be nothing more than warm words.

“How can the Tory government possibly be serious about taking a public health approach when the Health Secretary doesn’t even know about it?

“Labour advocates real investment in community safety and a public health approach to knife crime.”

There is no real leadership from the Tory government, which is failing our young people. It is disappointing that there is no consensus, and the Tories are not willing to call Cobra, despite emergency calls from the Labour Party.

Unlike the Tories, Havering’s Labour Party Councillors will be clear on our approach in Havering, we believe in a multi-faceted approach to tackle knife crime in our community. We need politicians, Havering Council, schools, Metropolitan Police, Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime, London Ambulance Service, voluntary organisations, charities, community, businesses, faith groups and families working together. EVERYONE!

Havering Council is already embracing this approach and commissions/delivers preventative and enforcement opportunities across the borough. Some of the programmes already in place include the
• Street Doctors
• No Knives in Schools
• Gangs Awareness Training
• Mentoring Scheme
• Schools access to Search Wands
• Safer Schools Officers
• Junior Citizens Programme
• Youth Offending Service Intensive Weapons Programme
• Operation Sceptre
• Knife Amnesty Bin
• Knife Arches
• Safe Haven Schemes
• Sales of Knives and Noxious Substances
• Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
• Spark 2 Life
• Drug dogs
• Work with BTP
• Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
• Serious Group Violence Panel
• Regular weapons sweeps
• Counselling
• And much more…

Havering Council have also created an ambitious Serious Group Violence & Knife Crime Strategy 2018-2021, which will be reviewed by the Cabinet in April. I would strongly urge residents to read the report once available and share any views.

I have reviewed the document and put forward recommendations through my committees, but in light of recent events, I will be taking a further look. I am very keen to see the programmes rolled out in Havering, with an even further joint-up effort to save young people’s lives. The focus of the strategy will be:

• Intelligence and information sharing
• Intervention
• Prevention
• Enforcement

Havering Council have already submitted a number of bids to contribute to the strategy, such as to the Home Office Early Intervention fund (successful) and the government’s Troubled Families programme (awaiting an outcome), and they intend to submit a bid to the Young Londoners fund when applications open later in 2019.

Predominately, funding for youth violence in Havering comes from MOPAC, through the London Crime Prevention Fund (LCPF). A new system has been introduced where boroughs receive a committed allocated amount of funding on a 2-yearly basis. £114,000 per year was allocated for 2017/2018 and 2018/2019. I am waiting for the funding announcement for the period 2019/2020 to 2021/2022.

Havering Council’s Children Services said: “A further note should be taken of the financial restraints being put on the Public Sector. Depending on where the future [Tory] cuts are made, this could impact upon the boroughs ability to carry out various tasks within the Serious Group Violence Strategy post 2018/2019.”

Havering’s Labour Party Councillors are concerned about the funding for the programmes, and we have put forward a motion urging the Tory Councillors to review its provision for youth services:

“This Council urges the Executive to urgently review its provision of Youth Services as part of a multifaceted approach with its strategic partners to address and reduce the level of knife crime and serious youth violence in the Borough including the adoption of a public health model in the medium and long term.”

We hope all Councillors in Havering support our motion at the next Full Council, by putting party politics aside for the sake of all young people’s lives across the borough.

I would also like to thank Havering Council for their work during this tragic time. Havering Council are offering bereavement counselling to schools affected by the tragedy, as well as other support.

3. Community cohesion to support our young people is the key ingredient to tackling knife crime

“Although we need more officers on the street, policing is not the only answer to addressing the rise in violent crime. We need to come together as a community investing time and resources to rebuild the safety nets that this government have taken away.” – Jon Cruddas Labour MP
Here, Here.
Havering has really come together after the tragedy in the community, we have seen petitions for more policing, purple ribbons across the borough, a knife crime campaign launched in Harold Hill and a peaceful march to honour all victims of knife crime.
The community is needed to tackle knife crime and save young people’s lives. With that in mind, residents need to be properly involved in key decisions, strategies or programmes before they are implemented into their area, to ensure they are effective and targeted.
We need to rebuild the community and police relationship. Residents must have a healthy dialogue with their local officers, work in conjunction and share that ever so important intelligence.
Havering needs to work smarter. The pockets of groups need to combine their resources and funding to reach more young people. We also need to see greater community cohesion and individuals being more proactive than reactive.
There are many ways the community can play their part:
Communities creating Street Watch Teams is a way for people to come together, wearing high visibility jackets and patrol hotspot areas in their ward. This is an effective way to show a presence of unity and protect others. Further information here: http://www.street-watch.org/havering/index.html
‘Safe havens’ in public places should not only be limited to community centres or youth hubs. It is widely known that a lot of serious youth violence happens between 15:00 – 21:00 pm and in public places, such as town centres/high streets.
Therefore, I would encourage businesses in Havering to have visible signs outside their organisations, which state this is a ‘safe haven,’ so, a young person who is running away to save his/her life, knows they can enter that organisation for shelter, and then they’ll be referred to the relevant professionals.
How many times have we seen young people fighting in the town centre and then they run into a shop because they don’t want to be harmed, and then they are told to get out… a young life could be saved with this measure.
It also shows a sense of unity to see a visible sign which is associated with protecting young people.
Sharing our skills, knowledge and experiences with other residents can save the lives of young people. Do you know how to do CPR? Have you been a victim of knife crime? or maybe you carried a knife? We need individuals to communicate and share their expertise with others across the Borough. You never know when that information will be useful.
Public and private organisations should give young people further opportunities. By proactively contacting schools, colleges and pupil referral units to offer young people a range of experiences across Havering.
This also helps with lowering NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) statistics in Havering and gives young people a better chance in life.
Arts and sports clubs or organisations are key! Young people being active is an effective way to tackle youth violence and utilise their talents.
Residents sharing intelligence with the police and Havering Council is extremely important. This will ensure the right resources are allocated. There are many ways residents can engage with relevant authorities by taking part in the following:
1. Stop and Search Monitoring Group
2. Independent Advisory Group
3. Safer Neighbourhood Board
4. Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel Meetings
5. Crime and Disorder Committee
6. Street Watch
Schools need to work better with young people. Although OFSTED can rate a school as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ there is always room for improvement. A lot happens in schools which does not always surface in the public realm. I believe more conversations need to be had about money laundering, drug selling and weapons.

Youth forums in the Town Hall. I was never engaged with politics or my local authority when I was young. I was not a member of my Youth Council, nor did I engage with them or even know who they were.

Local authorities should hold quarterly youth forums in their Town Halls for under 25s. This will empower young people to come together and talk about what is happening, decisions which will impact their community and what they would like to see, all of this can be useful for when planning priorities for the next budget year.

Serious youth violence and knife crime is not a new phenomenon. This has been happening for years.

We cannot continue to have the same conversations. It is time for further action to ensure our young people reach their full potential. Enough of burying our young people before their time, or seeing children ending up in the justice system because no one cared about them too.
I would also like to see women and girls have a more active role in tackling knife crime, as their voices are usually either muted or rarely heard.
On that note, I urge everyone to play their part.

Tele Lewal is a Havering Labour Councillor, first elected in May 2018


Minimum Guaranteed Income


This is a developing idea, with support and opposition across the political spectrum.

From the Marxist left, it offers the opportunity to ensure everyone receives a basic income, so has no need to work- so wage rates have to be attractive enough to ensure workers want to sell their labour to an employer, even if they are self- employed. This would be a major change in the balance between labour and capital; labour would gain the upper hand, which is why capitalism will oppose a change on this scale.
Society currently values work and defines individuals by what work they undertake – Doctor, Cleaner, Carer – basic income could overturn this. It’s not clear that there is (yet) support for such a fundamental change.

To others, a basic income will ensure that everyone has sufficient income to have a reasonable standard of living and there are potential links with universal credit and an integrated benefits system. This is not necessarily a bad thing – properly resourced there is a logic to universal credit, which is an attempt to simplify the multitude of benefits into one payment system. That’s not where we are now, and that’s after a former Tory leader invested a lot of political energy into the current mess – this is a warning of what can happen if the Tories set the agenda.

The dangers of adopting a change in approach are clear. The current model is full of inequities with a constant stream of horror stories, individuals left with no income for weeks on end. A basic income has potential to overcome this, as everyone would be entitled, so some payment would always be due.

There is also scope to encompass the long held feminist “wages for housework” within a framework, if basic income were extended to all sections of the community.

There is some support for the concept amongst those on the economic free market right as well. A basic income can be guaranteed, and set at a level that constrains the total level of benefit paid. It is reasonable to assume there would be a significant difference between the base level of income set by the free market right and the left wing supporters of the policy, although the key issue will be the interface with the welfare system.

By guaranteeing an income without work, the state could will play a very different role. It would be able to determine living standards by varying the base income, and would be able to vary this during the economic cycle. In times of recession, this would enable the right to cut living standards “at a stroke” – can this be avoided? Only with the type of political consensus that is rarely achieved in Britain.

Labour thinking on this is developing. It is likely to be linked to welfare reform rather than on fundamentally redefining the relationship between labour and capital. That’s something with merit, as the current system is over complex. Universal credit is a toxic brand, but the aim of a simplified system is worth supporting.

The emerging issue that also needs addressing is the increased use of technology to undertake routine tasks. The spread of automated supermarket tills is the first indication of what is ahead of us. Many routine, and eventually complex administrative tasks can be undertaken by automated digitised technologies. This has potential to put millions out of work – the great John Maynard Keynes was predicting a 15 hour working week in the 1930s. For the first time this looks possible. Overlaying a basic guaranteed income could change society for the better if all are allowed to benefit from this.

Another area where the left and right are likely to take diametrically different views, with the left seeking to spread the benefits to labour, the right to capital. Many service industries will need far less employees and enable capital to profit from a lower cost of Labour – this could impoverish million. In either scenario, the population of the post-industrial nationals – mainly Britain- with little manufacturing industry left, will see decimation of employment levels in many service industries.

There is a big choice coming about the direction of society. The choice of embracing the opportunity to fundamentally change society by reducing the hours needed to earn a comfortable living, or store up all sorts of issues by impoverishing millions by paying a low basis income
It needs to be a well-informed one it is at one level is a continuation of the traditional capital versus labour issue. The Labour Party needs to ensure that the workers displaced by digital technology remain useful members of society and do not lose out. While a guaranteed basic income is a solution, it’s also a real threat- in the hands of the right it makes a permanent shift in wealth to capital from labour.

2018 Council Election… Great Expectations…

2018 Election Great Expectations….

The 2014 Council election had seen Fabian chair Keith Darvill left as the sole Labour Councillor, despite cautious optimism going into the campaign. Havering once again voted differently to London, where Labour made great strides including taking majority control of Redbridge for the first time. The General election due in 2015 therefore offered little hope for Labour, and with key marginal seats in nearby Thurrock and Ilford North, resources were deployed elsewhere, reversing what used to happen in the 1980s and 90s.

Nationally, Labour had reasonable expectations of progress going into the General Election, with polls showing a hung parliament and a Miliband government the likely outcome. There was concern about what might happen in Scotland, where the ill-feeling on the independence referendum had boosted support for the SNP at Labours expense. Polls suggested a large SNP breakthrough, which resonated in England as well. UKIP were a further factor, with significant support in the south, including Havering, and in Labour seats in the North.

Once again the exit polls punctured the optimism, with the Conservatives predicted to be the largest party and potentially moving into a majority. The early results were inconclusive, with a long touted (and in reality unlikely) Conservative breakthrough in Sunderland not materialising. The results were confusing, although the Liberal Democrat vote was collapsing, meaning Tory gains in the South West, and occasional Labour gains in Birmingham, Manchester and the return of Bermondsey. Labour took several of its target seats in London, including Ilford North where Wes Streeting, who had first been involved in politics helping the successful Romford campaign in 1997 elected by 420 votes.

The SNP won 54 of 57 seats in Scotland, with the main national parties taking one each. UKIP polled four million votes and won one seat, the Greens a million and only seeing Caroline Lucas elected. The Conservative campaign had been subliminal, and aimed at winning the key marginal and Liberal Democrat seats, enough to win a small overall majority.

In Havering, there was little prospect of a breakthrough, and given the support for UKIP across the East London/Essex borders, it was no real shock when Paul McGeary came third in Hornchurch and Upminster and Sam Gould did the same in Romford.

In Hornchurch an d Upminster, Angela Wilkinson was elected with 27,051 votes (49%) with Paul McGeary third with 11,103 votes, 2,874 behind UKIP candidate Laurence Webb. In Romford, Andrew Rosindell secured 51% of the poll (25, 067 votes) with Havering Fabian Vice Chair Sam Gould coming third with 10,268, 940 votes behind the Gerald Batten the UKIP candidate

In Thurrock, a close three-way contest saw Labour candidate Polly
Billington defeated by 436 votes in a close three-way contest. Ed Miliband resigned he following day. This meant another Labour leadership contest, and a real fear that the same introspective thinking that had stymied the Labour Party in 2010 could be repeated. This looked likely to be the case until Jeremy Corbyn entered the campaign and struck a chord with the Labour membership to storm to victory. This was preceded by the announcement that Sadiq Khan would be the Labour candidate for Labour Mayor in the 2016 GLA election, ahead of the favoured Tessa Jowell.

Nothing would be the same again. David Cameron announced the European referendum, which would end his Premiership. Before the poll in June, the GLA elections saw a horrible campaign by Conservative Zak Goldsmith, with dog whistle overtones. This boosted the Khan campaign, and saw a vast Labour vote, with a khan winning by 317,000 votes securing 56.8% of the vote on second preference votes.

In the GLA constituencies, Labour came within a whisker (1,438) of seeing Ivana Baroletti being elected. This was all the more remarkable, as all the Havering wards saw a majority for Goldsmith, although Labour were very close in a few wards in the party vote. But there was some compensation as Denis O’Flynn was victorious in a by election on the same day to double the size if the Labour group. Unmesh Desai was victorious in the neighbouring City and East seat, with a majority just under 90,000.

Seven weeks later the Brexit referendum saw Britain narrowly vote to leave. Havering and Barking and Dagenham voted heavily to Leave, while Redbridge and Newham saw only small majorities for Remain, while the almost the rest of London voted heavily to Remain. All wards in Havering voted Leave.

The narrowness of the unexpected result saw David Cameron resign by 9 am the following day. The country was divided as never before, with the result viewed as meaning different things to different people. Two years later this remains the case. The campaign itself was every bit as bad as the previous national referendum on the voting system, with facts secondary to propaganda.

Perhaps the best way of explaining the result was that emotional factors were dominating the economics, but the campaign failed to reflect this. This meant a disconnect from all sides, leading to the areas that received most EU funding – Cornwall, west wales and northern Scotland – all voting leave.

Labour took the unexpected result badly. Jeremy Corbyn had not taken part in the big TV debates – keen not to be sharing a platform with Cameron perhaps, in light of the Scottish referendum. The parliamentary Labour Party forced another leadership campaign, which ended with Corbyn re-elected and secure in his role.

With Teresa May having taken over from Cameron, the Tories began he
Brexit process. Despite promising not to do so, May called an election in
2017, with the aim of increasing her majority and ability to shape the Brexit she wanted. What followed was perhaps the ineptest election campaign in modern history.

The Conservative poll lead neared twenty percent at the start of the campaign, which would have left Labour with a 1931 style result (30.8% of the vote and 52 seats). She had badly underestimated Corbyn as a campaigner and overestimated her own abilities. A weak manifesto committed the Tories to very little, save reform of adult social care. Within days May announced a change in this policy, and the robotic “strong and stable” mantra was easily undermined by “weak and wobbly”.

The polls narrowed, and with UKIP marginalised and no meaningful Lib Dem revival, the exit polls would once again provide the first insight. As in 2015, the polls didn’t pick up what was happening in Scotland, which would prove crucial.

The Conservatives lost their overall majority, with Labour 2.4% behind in the polls. In Havering, Labour moved back into second place in both seats
In Hornchurch, Julia Lopez replaced Angela Watkinson and secured
33,750 votes (60.15%) of the vote, Rocky Gill securing 28.57% (16,027votes). In Romford, Angela Leatherbarrow secured second place with 15,893 (31.82%), 13,600 behind Andrew Rosindell. In Dagenham and Rainham Labour benefited from support across London and Jon Cruddas was re-elected with a 4,652 majority, a small reduction, although the Conservatives moved into second place.

Although Labour had done better in Havering, analysis of the results suggested Labour was not ahead in any of the Havering wards.

So going into the 2018 elections, Labour was cautious about the prospects. Target wards were identified, and resources focused. With the national polls roughly level, and London polling showing a significant Labour lead, some improvement was likely. However, the London only polls had been good in 2014, and Havering voted differently. The fear was a repeat despite good responses in the doorstep in the areas most likely to vote Labour.

The resident presence in the Borough provides an option for the apolitical/ anti-political/protest voter not available elsewhere in London, partly explaining why the Liberals have only briefly featured on the Council. The residents started from a strong position, and with UKIP no longer relevant, anything could happen.

Very little changed. The Labour Party gained three seats in Harold Hill, while Denis O’Flynn retained his by election gain. Elsewhere, despite significant campaigning in Brooklands and Romford Town, there was no breakthrough in Romford. The targets in the south of the borough were missed as well, with the Independent Residents holding on with reduced majorities on a lower turnout.

In Heaton, 22-year-old Tele Lawal joined Keith Darvill and Denis
O’Flynn, probably becoming Labours youngest ever Labour Councillor – Tony Rew was a similar age when elected in 1990. Paul McGeary returned to the Council in Gooshays , with newcomer Carole Beth elected for the first time. The third Labour candidate Adam Curtis missed out by 46 votes, squeezed out by the Harold Hill version of the residents.

In the South of the Borough, a lively campaign in Rainham dented the resident’s majority and left top placed Labour candidate Fay Hough 74 votes short of being elected, Kim Arrowsmith 140 short and Chris Freeman 228. A marker for next time and a potential Labour gain in future very possible.

Labour was also just short in South Hornchurch, Pat Brown (243) and Trevor McKeever (267) being short of the independent residents, with Nicholas West some way behind 347 short of third place.

In Elm Park, Simon Darvill came fourth, but with 795 votes was well short of the resident in third place who had 2,012 The Labour decline in Elm Park from the 1990s has reflected not only the boundaries changing, but a very different community. It remains a seat that Labour could win in future, although grounds for optimism are needed to see this being the next election in 2022.

Elsewhere in the borough Labour had made substantial efforts at toppling the Conservatives in Brooklands and Romford Town. The 2017 General Election candidate and Romford Party chair Angelina Leatherbarrow came fourth in Brooklands, but with 1,592 was 546 votes of the third placed Tory. Labour candidates came second behind he elected Conservatives Romford Town ward, with Neil Cassidy 624 behind the third placed Conservative.

Elsewhere Labour was well behind the winning candidates, although did come second in Harold Wood, although Christine McGeary was 1,900 votes behind the third placed Resident candidate. A feature of the election was a number of former councillors standing in unwinnable wards- Chris Purcell, Ray Shaw and Mick wood were all some way short of reelection.

Elsewhere in the borough, the Conservatives made some key gains, to leave them just short of an overall majority. They gained one seat in Hylands, giving them all 21 of the seats in the Romford constituency. John Mylod has defected from the residents to the Conservatives just before the election and narrowly (25 votes) retained his seat to give the forties a gain from the residents. In Emerson park, a Tory gain from UKIP seemed likely once UKIP declined following the referendum, although they were pushed close by the residents who fell four short of gimping a seat. This left the Conservatives up three from 2014.

The Residents did well and were within range of being able to form an administration if they were able to form a cohesive group. That was always unlikely given the views of the Independent Residents in the South of the borough and the variety of different groupings.

However within a fortnight of the election South Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon Burton defected to the Tories, and became Deputy Mayor as a result. A deal appeared to have been done with the Resident’s councillors from Harold a Wood to give the Conservatives a working majority. Roger Ramsey stood down as Council Leader to be replaced by Damien White, the replacement of the old guard by the younger Romford Councillors being reflected in the new Cabinet.

Labour with five seats had greater influence than before, having representatives on almost all the committees. None the less the Party was disappointed not to have broken though.

Elsewhere in London. Labour won all the seats in Barking and Dagenham for the third election in a row, and made further gains in Redbridge. The relatively strong election performance in 2014 meant that there were few opportunities for Labour to make significant gains, although the Labour vote increased by 2 percent across the capital.

So the future for Labour in Havering is uncertain. On a positive note, this was the first election since 2002 where Labour had won two wards. Newly elected Tele Lawal was only 45 behind Denis O’ Flynn, who in turn won the by election in 2016 due to his strong personal following. It was particularly pleasing to see a young black women elected in the ward that returned a BNP councillor 12 years ago. There was a lot of energy in the campaign, giving hope that in the next election – the GLA in 2020 unless a general election is called – Labour votes from Havering can see a Labour candidate elected in Havering and Redbridge for the first time.

Mike Lucas RIP

Sad to hear of the death of former Elm Park Labour Councillor Mike Lucas. Mike was a Councillor from 1986-1994
Mike had a massive heart attack during the 1990 election campaign and it was touch and go for a while. Alan Williams tells the story of arriving early in the morning on election day and seeing no one around, fearing the worst
Mike survived, and was nominated as chair of Social Services in the minority administration that followed…however he never assumed this role for a variety of reasons. He did not stand in 1994, and was a bit disillusioned with Labour politics.
He had great integrity, and when we made a error in an election leaflet naming him as current Chair of Benhurst school governors rather than former Chair, we manually wrote in the correct title to 4,500 leaflets.
He was Chair of Governors at Abbs Cross until 1992 resigning when the school became Grant Maintained.
Mike had been a social worker for Newham and later Essex County Council and helped out at Community Links, the main Charity in Canning Town.
He was a loss to the Labour Party, and a genuinely decent man.
Condolences to his wife June, and Joanne, Kevin David and his grandchildren RIP.