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Another Green Flag for Havering’s Parks August 8, 2014

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This year Havering’s Parks have even more to boast about after receiving another Green Flag in Raphael Park, taking our total to nine.

The Green Flag Award is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom. The scheme was set up in 1996 to recognise and reward green spaces in England and Wales that met the laid down high standards.

The award, handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to visitors that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

To attain the award, a panel of judges visit the park to check they meet the criteria of being welcoming, safe and secure, clean and well maintained, sustainable, that they support conservation and heritage, and encourage community involvement.

The announcement of this year’s award-winners came in the same week that thousands of people up and down the country celebrated the UK’s fantastic parks and green spaces with Love Parks Week, which ran from July 25 to August 3.

Parks and open spaces are one of the most frequently used public services in the borough, with more than 50 per cent of people visiting a park at least once a week and many using green spaces as an integral part of daily life. This is why the Council has maintained the high standards of its parks – as they are so valued by residents.

The Council has secured the Green Flag awards for the following parks:

These awards do not just reflect the efforts of the Council to maintain our parks, but also the efforts of many residents that help support our parks through Friends of Parks groups.

Havering has approximately 6,000 hectares of green belt, which covers almost half of the borough. Havering Council manages around 100 sites in the borough. The parks have very busy and seen lots of visitors over recent weeks due to the hot weather. To see where they are and what activities people can get involved in, visit www.havering.gov.uk/parks

Collation Ceremony for Reverend Shaun Moore, St. George’s Church July 30, 2014

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Collation Ceremony of Reverend Shaun Moore, the new Vicar of St. George’s Church in Romford with the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt. Reverend Stephen Cottrell. It was lovely to meet Shaun who I am sure will lead his Church well.

Whilst at the Ceremony I was able to meet members of the clergy and parishioners where we spoke of the good work that St. George’s Church, and the wider religious community, has done for the Borough.

Full Council, Wednesday 16 July 2014 July 21, 2014

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Coat of arms of London Borough of Havering

Coat of arms of London Borough of Havering (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week the Council met for the first time since the administration has been formed, which was also the first Council with official business.

This meeting marked the start of another leg in a long and challenging journey. As many of you will already know, over the last four years the Council have been responding to a significant cut in the founding that we have received from Central Government. This has meant that we have had to reduce our overall costs by £40 million, which is approximately a quarter of our budget. So far this has mainly been achieved by making the Council more efficient, employing new technologies and reducing our running costs.

Over the next four years this task will become more challenging as we are expected find an additional £60 million in savings. This will mean that the Council will have to take difficult decisions on how services are modelled and how they are delivered. At the meeting I assured members, of all parties, that the administration would be briefing members about potential savings to enable greater debate and transparency before formal considerations. Over recent years, through surveys such as ‘Your Council, Your Say’, residents have told us what matters most to them. I wish to assure you that over the coming months, the Council will also continue to seek your views as we form plans to save money.

At the Council I also announced that there will be a review of both the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny functions and Special Responsibility Allowances that will report to Council in September. I also discussed Transport for London’s consultation for a new Thames River Crossing, which has proposed, amongst others, a bridge from Belvedere joining the A13 near the boundary between Havering and Barking and Dagenham. I have asked the newly formed Rainham and Wenington and South Hornchurch Working Party to consider this proposal.

At the end of the election, no single party in Havering attained the 28 seats required to have a majority in the Chamber, meaning that in addition to the above, there is now an even greater need for members of all parties to work together to reach the best decisions for Havering over the next four years.

Havering’s First Autism Ambassadors July 16, 2014

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Last Saturday I had the pleasure to attend the Frances Bardsley Academy/RIEES Graduation Ceremony for Autism Ambassadors of the Sixth Form Autism and Disabilities club.

Havering’s first Autism Ambassadors have passed the Leadership Development and Autism Volunteering course, the first ever course coupled with volunteering for Autism in the Community in the whole of the UK.

As part of their course Ambassadors had given up their Saturday’s to work with 18-24 year olds with Autism at the RIEES Club in Romford, demonstrating generosity and kindness beyond their years.

RIEES, which stands for Romakey International Education Empowerment Services, helps support young people with learning disabilities or autism through the transitional period from school to independent adulthood. RIEES supports youths within Havering and the surrounding boroughs.

I, and other Councillors, was pleased to represent the Council and personally thank the students, as well as staff at the Academy and RIEES for their contributions to the community.

To see pictures of this fantastic event, check out the pictures page.

If you would like more information on RIEES and their work, head to: http://www.romakey.co.uk/home

Havering Business Expo a Great Success! March 17, 2014

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This year’s Havering Business Expo has been the biggest and best held yet!

Since their beginning in 2014 the Expo has grown each year and this year included 41 exhibitor stands and eight seminars, attended by several hundred visitors.

The event attracted a diverse group of exhibitors, ranging from caterers, to landscape gardeners, cleaning suppliers and property management service providers.

The seminars were equally diverse, providing advice on topics like networking, supply issues, marketing and employment law. All of which are key areas to running a successful business.

Havering’s prime location, with close proximity to London and easy access to infrastructure and transport links make it a great place to do business, so it was a privilege to welcome so many guests to discuss expansion and possibilities for start-ups for prospective entrepreneurs.

Our guests enjoyed it too, commenting on what an opportunity it was for networking and learning from the seminars.

If you would like more information on the Council’s support for businesses, you can visit the Council’s business webpage at: http://www.havering.gov.uk/Pages/Category/Business.aspx

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Have your say on policing in London February 25, 2014

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English: A photo of a traditional "blue l...

On Thursday 27 February 2014, Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and Assistant Commissioner Byrne, for the Metropolitan Police will be coming to Havering to discussing policing in the capital and Havering.

The Deputy Mayor and Asst. Commissioner will be accompanied by Borough Commander Jason Gwillim as they seek to update residents on progress made on the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, discuss how it has affected local policing and share statistics about crime in Havering.

The Local Policing Model, which is central to achieving the goals set in the Police and Crime Plan will also be discussed.

Elm Park Ward Member and London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge, Cllr. Roger Evans AM will Chair the meeting and lead a question and answer session, where you will be able to put your own questions to the panel.

This event will take place in the Romford Salvation Army Hall (address below) at 18:30 on Thursday 27 February.

Romford Salvation Army Hall,
High Street,

For more information on the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, visit: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/mission-priorities/police-and-crime-plan

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Budget Supports Resident’s Priorities February 18, 2014

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English: Town Hall of Havering London Borough ...

English: Town Hall of Havering London Borough Council. Category:Images of Havering (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the full Council Meeting on 26 February 2014, Havering Council will debate a budget for 2014/15 that seeks to support resident’s priorities, as identified by the ‘Your Council, Your Say’ survey.

During the survey residents made it clear just how much they value our parks, facilities for younger people and well maintained roads and pavements – all areas where we have identified significant funding in the budget.

We’ve allocated £500,000 to improve roads and fix pot holes around the borough. A further £500,000 to provide state-of-the-art 4G football pitches at the brand new Broxhill sports park in Harold Hill and £300,000 funding to clear silt from the lake in Harrow Lodge Park.

The real headline though is our commitment to freeze the Havering element of council tax for a fourth consecutive year. That means that the Havering element of council tax of a band D property will remain at £1,195.18

That Havering are able to make such bold commitments during a time of constraint in Local Government funding is testament to our successes in implementing more efficient ways of working and reducing the costs of our back office.

Funding for Local Government is made up of two main sources, the main one being from the Government and the second coming from council tax. This year Havering’s overall revenue grant from the Government was reduced by around £6m. Havering is already one of lowest funded boroughs in London per population size.

Again, that Havering is able to achieve a council tax freeze, producing a rate lower then it was 2009/10 when it was cut by 0.5 per cent, in such difficult circumstances demonstrates our successful efforts to keep council tax stable in the borough.


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Full Council 29/01/14 January 29, 2014

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As many of you will now know, at tonight’s Full Council meeting I will be stepping down as the Leader of Havering Council in order to take up a new position in the private sector.

I have thoroughly enjoyed leading this council over the last ten years and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve. It has been a privilege to work with a group of such visionary Councillors and hugely committed Officers. I would like to thank them all.

Together we have had many successes, ranging from the stabilisation of Council tax bills; investment in local priorities – from parks and social care to libraries and schools and we protected valued services like weekly bin collections. These successes have helped ensure that Havering remains an exciting and rewarding place to live.

Tonight, somebody new will be given the honour of leading the Council and the Conservative group into the local elections in May. I will stand in the hope that I may continue to represent the people of Squirrel’s Heath ward, but as I return to work in the private sector I don’t believe that I can continue to devote the time needed to lead the Council effectively.

I am sorry to leave this fantastic honour and privilege, but I am proud to have played my part in making Havering a better place to live and I wish my successor the very best for the future.

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Green Flag Awards November 29, 2013

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English: Bedfords Park, Havering-atte-Bower A ...

English: Bedfords Park, Havering-atte-Bower A sunny spring day shows off the trees to full advantage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday 27 November, eight of Havering’s parks were recognised as some of the best in the country with the raising of the new 2013/14 Green Flags.

The Green Flag Awards are the benchmark for parks and green spaces in the UK, recognising parks and green spaces in England and Wales that meet the high standards in 1996.

Since 2007 the Council has been recognised by this scheme and we have now attained eight of the prestigious awards.

Havering parks that were recognised this year are:

 To see images of the flags being raised in Havering’s parks, head to the photos tab above.

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Harold Hill Meet the Leader October 31, 2013

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The Harold Hill Meet the Leader event that was originally scheduled for 16 October 2013 has now been rescheduled for Monday 25 November, 1-2pm at the Harold Hill Library.