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Autumn October 3, 2016

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As we move into the Autumn I hope that residents have enjoyed the summer, fortunately the warm weather has stayed with us longer than expected this year.

In my last post I wrote about Havering’s success in attaining Green Flag status for two more parks, in Rise Park and Central Park in Harold Wood, and I am pleased to be able to write about further success at the London in Bloom Awards. London in Bloom awards recognise entrants efforts to improve their local environment and this year Havering was the most successful borough in London winning 55 awards.
Three categories in which Havering was the overall winner were; Large Conservation, won by Havering Country Park; Large Park of the Year, won by Raphael’s Park and Town Centre, won by Elm Park Town Centre.
A full list of the awards can be found on Havering’s website at www.havering.gov.uk/London-in-Bloom-2016.

Langtons Restoration
Many residents in Hornchurch would have noticed extensive restoration works have been underway at Langtons and I am pleased to advise that these are progressing well and are due to be completed by Christmas. These include a new café/restaurant, a fully refurbished stable yard, garden bothy, gazebo and bath house. The gardens will feature a brand new 12-metre long greenhouse, two new orchards, a vegetable garden and petal-bed garden. The lake will benefit from a safer terrace area for children and the implementation of a headwall at the far end of the lake which will serve as a new photo opportunity for newlyweds. Residents and wedding guests will also benefit from improved access to the park by the creation of two new entrances, one from Cromer Road and one from Boscombe Avenue.

Romford Market Consultation
Romford Market has been awarded £1million by the GLA and Havering Council has agreed to match the funding to invest in reinvigorating the historic market. The aim of this is to return the market to the heart of the community with a vision which will see a fundamental change in the way the market looks, feels, is managed and operated on both market and non-market days.
The needs of Romford residents and visitors are changing, with a growing older population, more young professionals and a large proportion of young families living in the borough. Businesses and services are moving alongside these changes, and there is potential for the Market to enhance the local economy and contribute to building a diverse independent retail offer.

The market has long been at the heart of Romford and is seen as a valued and much treasured local amenity but we know that the local community wants to see changes to the market. Research undertaken in early 2015 indicated that 76 per cent of respondents visited Romford Market but that 44 per cent of would like to see a ‘better quality and variety of stalls’ in Romford Market.

The proposed works will provide the features that successful town squares provide including a place where people can meet, eat, shop and relax and where our local businesses can test out ideas as well as having strong, well-known traders offering high quality produce that will retain current customers and attract new ones.

There will be investment in new stalls, covers and utilities to provide a modern, fit for purpose market that will work for traders and shoppers alike, creating a Market that looks and feels inviting. Under the proposals stalls will be realigned to encourage browsing whether visitors are stopping awhile, or just passing through and the introduction of high-speed Wi-Fi will allow traders to easily introduce cashless payments.

It is proposed that a new Market House be built, containing facilities for traders, toilets and a place for shoppers to meet, eat and socialise. The proposed Market House would also include a restaurant, further boosting the food offering of the Market and a rooftop terrace will allow visitors to take in the views of the historic Church on one side, and the hustle and bustle of the freshly streamlined Romford Market on the other

Over the coming weeks there will be an opportunity for everyone to have their say on the plans for the redevelopment of Romford Market. Plans and designs will be exhibited online and there is currently a public exhibition on show in Romford’s Central Library. The plans will also be on show in Romford Market on Saturday 1 October, 9am – 4pm and I would invite residents to come and view the plans and give their views.

Summer update July 27, 2016

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It has been some time since I last wrote on this blog and I thought, as we move into the summer holidays, now would be a good time to provide a summer update.

Over the last week or so we have enjoyed some brilliant weather and many of us have rushed to open spaces to make the most of it. Fortunately, our residents now have a further two Green Flag parks to choose from as the Council’s total rose from nine to eleven this year. ​The Green Flags, awarded by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, reward the best parks and green spaces across the country and for the first time fly above Rise Park in Rise Park and Central Park in Harold Hill.  If you are looking for somewhere to soak up the sun or for somewhere to picnic with friends, be sure to look at our website for information on all of the parks and open spaces within the borough: https://www.havering.gov.uk/Pages/Services/Parks-In-Havering.aspx


We have this year seen a significant increase in transit Travellers across the borough, in previous years the borough has seen around six encampments a year however in this year alone there have been 39.

Council officers have worked hard liaising with police and serving eviction notices to ensure that Travellers move on from where they have settled without permission.

Not all Travellers who have been in transit through the borough cause difficulties however there are a few who take part in criminal and anti-social behaviour which leads to the damaging of either private or public property.

In light of recent events, the Council is reviewing our strategy with regard to Travellers and will be working with other boroughs and external agencies to ensure that we do not get an increase in Traveller encampments that cause disruption.


Over the past year or so many residents have contacted me with concerns regarding the proliferation of HMOs, or House in Multiple Occupancy, in the borough. A HMO is defined as a house where more than two, but six or less unrelated residents live and share one or more basic amenity (kitchen or bathroom).

Earlier this month changes to planning requirements in Havering came into force which stipulate that planning permission will now be required to change the use of a house or flat to a house in multiple occupation (HMO), in four wards in the borough – Brooklands, Gooshays, Heaton and Romford Town. In the rest of the borough, planning permission will be required to change the use of all houses and flats, other than detached houses, to a HMO.​

These new regulations will enable the Council to monitor HMOs through the borough, ensure that they are of a decent standard and improve living arrangements.

Havering Show

Finally, I wish to remind you of Havering’s flagship event, the Havering Show which will take place over August Bank Holiday weekend on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August at Harrow Lodge Park.

This free event has attractions for all the family, including fun fairs, classic cars, karaoke stage and music from all genres.

Headlining this year’s show will be Jocelyn Brown, famous for hits such as ‘Loves Gonna Get You’ and ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’. Also performing will be Paloma Faith’s live band, the Faithettes, and local artists James Smith, Britain’s Got Talent Finalist and Lisa Wright, an up-and-coming Country artist.

This event really is a great family day out and further information on the line-up, access and exhibiting at the show can be found at: www.havering.gov.uk/haveringshow

Merry Christmas December 17, 2015

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Over the last few weeks there have been many festive events throughout Havering, where communities have come together to see our Town Centres be illuminated and celebrate the start of Christmas. Attendances to this year’s events have been outstanding and it’s been wonderful to see the excitement of youngsters.

The much loved children’s character, The Gruffalo, joined us for the switch on in Romford while the cast of Aladdin were out in force in Hornchurch. There were events in Elm Park, Rainham and Collier Row too and Santa was of course present throughout.

Eagle-eyed residents will also have noticed that the Town Hall has been illuminated in order to raise awareness for World Diabetes Day in November. Diabetes is a serious public health issue affecting 3.2million people in the UK with approximately 630,000 undiagnosed cases. We are working with the Havering Family Diabetes Group and local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to provide more information to local people about the diabetes and I am pleased that the Council has participated within this awareness campaign.

Please also be advised of new Meet the Leader & Cabinet events in the New Year, details of which can be found on the Contact page.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Roll of Honour August 27, 2015

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On Friday the Council unveiled and dedicated a new Roll of Honour Memorial Plaque to commemorate the service and ultimate sacrifice of two local heroes; Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath and Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Fisher.

The service was attended by family members of the fallen soldiers, the Mayor of Havering, Deputy Liuetenant alongside members and Council VIPs.

During the service, the Mayor presented to the parents of Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath and Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Fisher a certificate as a small token of the Council’s gratitude for the service that their sons have offered.

After the service it was a pleasure to learn more about Ian and Kirk in speaking with their families and reading tributes left by their commanding officers, colleagues and friends it’s clear that they are both sorely missed at home and at work.

In Havering we are immensely proud of our links to the Armed Forces and I am pleased that this new Roll of Honour Memorial Plaque will be displayed in pride of place in Reception at the Town Hall.

HMO issues July 14, 2015

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Over the past year, many residents have contacted the council and their councillors with concerns regarding the growing number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s).

HMOs, or bedsits as they are more commonly known, refer to the conversion of a dwelling, such as a house, into many smaller self-contained properties or rooms with some shared facilities that can be let individually. Under current planning legislation a change of use from a dwelling to a small HMO for up to 6 occupants does not require planning permission and is part of permitted development rights.

Residents have been concerned about the strains that HMO’s can place upon parking and other services within the area.

In order to address these concerns and to ensure that HMO’s are only built in suitable areas and in a suitable manner, the council have proposed two article 4 directions to  in relation to change of use from dwelling houses to a house in multiple occupations.

Two Directions have been made, the first covers Brooklands, Romford Town, Heaton and Gooshays wards.  The second Direction covers the whole of the Borough, except Brooklands, Romford Town, Heaton and Gooshays wards. 

Before the Directions are given the go-ahead, a consultation period will run from Monday 13 July to Monday 31 August and residents are invited to take part.

For further information on the directions and consultation please see:


Friends of Harrow Lodge Park July 10, 2015

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Harrow Lodge Park is an outdoor area full of nature and life. It is a park frequently visited by many and adored by many more.  From swings and frames to never ending boundaries of green grass the park has everything to offer.  It has many facilities that make the park great.

Havering is host to many parks, and nine of which have green flags such as Upminster Park. Green flags are national awards that commemorate outdoor spaces for their safety awareness, cleanliness, environmental benefits and many more factors.

 To attain a green flag a park must be sustainable, helpful to the environment, safe, and encourage community involvement, and we want Harrow Lodge Park to be recognised as having these attributes.  To ensure this happens will require hard work and investment from the council and we hope the community will wish to support us in this.

If you wish to contribute to the councils efforts to improve Harrow Lodge Park why not consider becoming a friend of the park. Havering is fortunate to have many friends groups in many parks and we are looking to support a new friends group in Harrow Lodge Park. Friends groups contribute and influence the upkeep of parks by carrying out a range of tasks that improve the park and supplement the works of the grounds maintenance team.

If you are interested in joining a friends of Harrow Lodge Park group please join us at The Board Room (on the first floor) at Hornchurch Sports centre from 8pm on Tuesday 28th July to discuss how we could take this forward.


Housing Zone Status for Rainham and Beam Park June 26, 2015

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Yesterday the Mayor of London announced his approval of the Rainham and Beam Park Housing Zone in Havering.

Being granted Housing Zone status will enable the Council to turn our plans for a new Beam Park Garden Suburb into a reality, transforming former industrial land into a new and vibrant community.

Investment in run-down sections of the A1306 will create attractive housing developments, linked by a tree-lined boulevard, with access to a new open green space. It is planned that the new Garden Suburb will provide nearly 3,500 homes, over 900 of which will be affordable.

These new housing developments will be served by a brand new railway station at Beam Park, which has already been approved for funding by Transport for London. The station is planned to open as soon as 2019 and will provide a 20 minute rail link to Central London at Fenchurch Street.

Developments such as these will lead to further development of community facilities, such as schools, health services and leisure, making the communities of Rainham and Beam Park sustainable and attractive places to live and raise a family for generations to come.

Projects such as these demonstrate the benefits of, and Havering’s success in partnership working, delivering millions of pounds in social and infrastructure investment to our residents benefit, in times of continued fiscal constraint.

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.