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Devolution Discussions March 17, 2015

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In recent weeks there has been much coverage and commentary about the issue of ‘devolution’ and discussions that I and colleagues have been involved in with eight other London Borough Leaders.

Some people are suggesting that these discussions are about ‘merging’ with other London Boroughs and sharing resources – and there’s been some shameful scaremongering that we would somehow turn Havering into the mirror image of an inner-London Borough.

As Leader of Havering, my absolute priority is to preserve what’s best about our Borough – to keep it safe, clean and a place where people are proud to live.  I would never strike any deal that is bad for Havering. I’ve lived here for many years – so I have a very personal interest in Havering’s future!

Across London, councils are talking about devolution.  Devolution is not about sharing existing powers and money – it’s about getting our hands on new powers and money.  For example in Manchester, there are plans to give local councils control of the local NHS budgets as well as their own – new money and new powers.

If that sort of change is being discussed, and we are not in the room, we would be letting our residents down.  That doesn’t mean we are close to any sort of agreement, but it does mean we are part of the conversation.  If we can eventually get more money and more powers to improve the quality of life for Havering residents, then we might be interested in moving the discussions on a stage.  If we can’t, then we won’t.  It’s that simple.

A new Vision for Havering March 3, 2015

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At the meeting of Full Council last week, Havering did not just set its budget and Council Tax rates – which you can read more about here – we also set our Vision for the Council in years to come.

The budget consultation process enabled us to obtain an updated view of what our residents see as priorities for the Borough and the services that they value most, and the results were loud and clear. Our residents want a clean and safe Havering that they can be proud about.

With this in mind, we’ve consolidated our previous Living Ambitions into three concise aspirations for the Borough which form our Vision:

As you are I’m sure aware, the Council is responding to a budget gap of £45million by 2018, so it will not be possible for us to achieve these aims on our own. But, working with our partners, we believe we can meet our aspirations together.

We will support our community by spending your money on the things that matter most to you – like clean, safe streets and protecting people in need. We will support local firms to grow and create jobs; we will re-energise our towns, to improve the quality of life in Havering and we will help local people to bring about the changes they want to see in their neighbourhoods.

We will use our influence to bring more jobs, homes, schools and transport to Havering. We will use our planning powers to balance the growth of business centres, with the protection of ‘green Have​ring’ and its quieter communities. And we will encourage local people to do the right things: keep Havering tidy, be good neighbours and lead healthier lives.

And we will lead by example by running a low-cost Council that respects you, by using your money wisely. We will work with others to reduce costs; we will help people do business with us at any time of the day or night; we will hold ourselves to the high standards you expect from us and we will spend each penny as if it were our own.​​



Happy New Year January 5, 2015

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I would like to start this post by wishing you all a Happy New Year, I hope that you all enjoyed the festive break.

As many of you will know, the Council needs to reduce its overall budget by around a third over the next four years, in response to Government funding cuts, and the rising costs of providing services to a growing and ageing population.

In September last year the Cabinet set out a range of proposals to address the budget gap for the next two years – which will also go a long way towards closing the entire four year budget gap – and launched a public consultation so that you may comment on these proposals, which run until Monday 29 December 2014.

During the consultation many of you took the opportunity to comment on the Council’s proposals through completing the consultation survey, by attending public meetings with the Cabinet and myself, or by corresponding directly with the Council and/or members. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to make your views known.

Officers are now undertaking the process of collating your responses into a report which will be presented to Cabinet. We will then be able to decide upon a final set of budget proposals to be taken to Full Council in February based upon a firmer understanding of our resident’s priorities.

As I said in an earlier post, we are trying to make the best of a bad situation and we no choice but to find significant savings. It is inevitable that the savings made will not please everyone; however the Council is striving to protect the services that are most important to local people.

Budget Consultation December 9, 2014

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As I’m sure many of you will be aware, Havering Council is currently consulting on budget proposals to address a £60 million budget gap over the next four years.

We need to reduce our overall budget by around a third over the next four years, in response to Government funding cuts, inflationary costs and a growing and ageing population.

Havering already receives the fourth lowest Government grant in London per head of population and has saved £40 million over the past four years – so this task will not be easy.

Havering’s Cabinet has set out a range of proposals to address the budget gap for the next two years – which will also go a long way towards closing the entire four year budget gap.

We’re now into the final month of the consultation. We will shortly publish the Winter edition of Living in Havering, which will remind people to comment by 29th December.

I would like to encourage all of you, if you have not done so already, to spare a moment to complete the survey and have your say on the budget proposals.

You can fill in the various consultation documents that can be found on the website at www.havering.gov.uk/yoursay . Alternatively, you can email or write to me using the details below by 29th December, when the consultation closes.

 Email – Roger.Ramsey@havering.gov.uk


Cllr. Roger Ramsey
Leader of the Council
London Borough of Havering
Town Hall
Main Road


Meet the Leader & Cabinet October 17, 2014

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On Wednesday 1 October, my Cabinet colleagues and I hosted the first Meet the Leader & Cabinet event in the Liberty Centre, Romford.

During the event we spoke to many residents on a multitude of matters, taking up any issues that required further investigation and casework.

We have now confirmed arrangements for these meetings, across the borough until April 2015. So, if there is anything that you wish to discuss with a Cabinet member or myself in an informal manner, please feel free to visit us on any of the dates below:

Wednesday 5 November 2014, 13:00 – 14:00 at Sainsbury’s, Hornchurch

Wednesday 17 December 2014, 13:00 – 14:00 at Tesco, Rainham

Wednesday 28 January 2015, 13:00 – 14:00 at Waitrose, Upminster

Wednesday 11 March 2014, 13:00 – 14:00 at the Liberty, Romford

Budget Consultation September 25, 2014

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Yesterday the Cabinet voted to approve the launch of the Council’s consultation on the Council’s budget proposals.

Over the next four years, we need to reduce our budget by around a third, in response to a triple whammy of Government funding cuts, inflationary costs and a growing and ageing population.

A reduction in our budget of that scale will inevitably have some impact on our services. We want to do everything we can to limit that impact and balance the savings in a fair and proportionate way across the services we deliver – taking into account the needs of the whole community. And we have given a great deal of thought to what we ought to protect – which is why we propose to keep weekly rubbish collections, keep all libraries open, preserve vital social services and protect measures like CCTV and the Parks Protection team.

But we’re keen to listen to alternative ideas. The public consultation, launching on Monday 29 September, will last until Christmas and we will be seeking the views of as many people as possible on the overall proposals. In addition there are three specific consultations being launched on the same day regarding proposed changes to libraries, parking and council tax support.

To access these consultations, visit www.havering.gov.uk/yoursay

Hard copies of the consultation documents will be available in libraries in due course and a special budget issue of Living in Havering will be published in October.

Three public meetings will also be held which members of the Cabinet and I will be attending.  The dates are:

Wednesday 12 November 2014, 18:30 – 20:30 at Elm Park Primary School

Monday 17 November 2014, 18:30 – 20:30 at the MyPlace Centre, Harold Hill

Thursday 20 November 2014, 18:30 – 20:30 at the Romford Baptist Church

Your comments and feedback will influence our final decisions in the New Year. I would like to stress that any decisions taken on the provision of services are not, and will not, be taken lightly. As I stated at the beginning of this post, the Council is responding to a reduction in funding, increased costs and increasing service demand. This consultation will help to enable us to make the best of a bad situation, prioritising services that our residents need and want most.

I implore all residents to take the time to consider these proposals and please visit www.havering.gov.uk/yoursay for details on how to submit your comments online.

Meet the Leader & Cabinet September 22, 2014

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On Wednesday 1 October 2014 my Cabinet colleagues and I will be hosting the first of many ‘Meet the Leader & Cabinet’ events, by Starbucks in The Liberty Shopping Centre at 1pm.

These events will provide residents with an opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns they may have with me and/or a member of the Cabinet in an informal manner.

To ensure that we are able to meet with as many of you as possible, these events will take place in rotating locations in Hornchurch, Rainham and Upminster in addition to Romford. A full list of dates and locations will be published on this blog and the Council’s on-line events calendar very soon.

So, if you are in Romford on Wednesday 1 October, do feel free to stop by and say hello to members of the Cabinet and I. We will be behind Starbucks Coffee (facing WHSmith) between 1-2:30pm.

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.