Havering London Borough Council

Havering London Borough Council

London borough council

Havering London Borough Council, also known as Havering Council, is the local authority for the London Borough of Havering in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, one of 32 in London. The council has been under no overall control since 2014; since 2022 it has been run by a coalition of the Havering Residents Association and Labour. The council is based at Havering Town Hall in Romford.

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The London Borough of Havering and its council were created under the London Government Act 1963, with the first election held in 1964. For its first year the council acted as a shadow authority alongside the area's two outgoing authorities, being the borough council of Romford and the urban district council of Hornchurch. The new council formally came into its powers on 1 April 1965, at which point the old districts and their councils were abolished.[2][3] The council's full legal name is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Havering".[4]

From 1965 until 1986 the council was a lower-tier authority, with upper-tier functions provided by the Greater London Council. The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the boroughs (including Havering) responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. As an outer London borough council Havering has been a local education authority since 1965. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 and its functions passed to the London Boroughs, with some services provided through joint committees.[5]

Since 2000 the Greater London Authority has taken some responsibility for highways and planning control from the council, but within the English local government system the council remains a "most purpose" authority in terms of the available range of powers and functions.[6]

In September 2023, the leader of the council warned the authority could be six months away from triggering a Section 114 notice because of the increasing cost of social care and housing.[7][8] The council managed to set a budget in 2024, but only through relying on an exceptional £54 million loan from the government.[9]

Powers and functions

The local authority derives its powers and functions from the London Government Act 1963 and subsequent legislation, and has the powers and functions of a London borough council. It sets council tax and as a billing authority also collects precepts for Greater London Authority functions plus levies on behalf of the East London Waste Authority, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and others.[10][11] It sets planning policies which complement Greater London Authority and national policies, and decides on almost all planning applications accordingly. It is a local education authority and is also responsible for council housing, social services, libraries, waste collection and disposal, traffic, and most roads and environmental health.[12]

Political control

The council has been under no overall control since 2014.

The first election was held in 1964, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until it came into its powers on 1 April 1965. Political control of the council since 1965 has been as follows:[13]

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The role of mayor in Havering is largely ceremonial, usually being held by a different councillor each year. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1965 have been:[14][15]

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Following the 2022 election and a subsequent by-election and changes of allegiance up to April 2024, the composition of the council was:

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The Havering Residents Association is registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission, but is also an umbrella group covering several other residents associations which are also registered as parties. Some of the association's councillors stood directly as candidates for it, others stood as candidates for the other associations, including the Hornchurch Residents Association, Rainham Independent Residents Association and Upminster and Cranham Residents Association. The group also includes seven councillors elected in 2022 as Conservatives who subsequently defected.[16][17][18] The other three councillors elected for a residents association were all elected for the Harold Wood Hill Park Residents Association, which does not form part of the Havering Residents Association; those three councillors sit together as the East Havering Residents Group. The two independent councillors (both elected for the Upminster and Cranham Residents Association) left the Havering Residents Association group and sit together as the Residents Associations Independent Group.[19][17][20] The next election is due in 2026.


Since the last boundary changes in 2022 the council has comprised 55 councillors representing 20 wards, with each ward electing two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[21]

As part of the process of reviewing the boundaries leading up to the 2022 changes, there were accusations that the Conservative administration was attempting to gerrymander the new boundaries. The council's then leader, Damian White, was secretly recorded outlining plans to modify ward boundaries to the advantage of the party. White reportedly said the Local Government Boundary Commission had so few staff it was "highly unlikely they'll put in the effort" to scrutinise the changes and that "they only look at what was discussed... at the full council meeting. So there will be only one option."[22] Following the emergence of the recording there was a local outcry. The Local Government Boundary Commission consequently revised its proposals for the new wards and carried out further public consultation, which led to notable changes in the final boundaries from the earlier draft proposals.[23]


The council is based at Havering Town Hall on Main Road in Romford, which was completed in 1937 as 'Romford Town Hall' for the old Romford Urban District Council. It was formally opened on 16 September 1937, on which day Romford was also presented with its charter of incorporation turning the urban district into a borough.[24] The building was subsequently extended in 1960 and 1988.[25]


The current composition of Havering Council's Cabinet is as follows.

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  1. "Council minutes, 30 March 2016". Havering Council. Retrieved 14 April 2024.
  2. Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. Vol. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  3. "Inter Authority Agreement for the Local London Partnership Programme" (PDF). Havering Council. 2023. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  4. Rudgewick, Oliver (28 September 2023). "London borough at risk of S114 this year". Public Finance. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  5. Mellor, Josh (28 September 2023). "Havering could be 'six months' away from 'bankruptcy' notice". Romford Recorder. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  6. Mendonca, Susana (29 February 2024). "Havering Council secures £54m government help to avoid going bust". BBC News. Retrieved 14 April 2024.
  7. "Council Tax Booklet 2022-2023". Havering London Borough Council. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  8. "Council Tax and Business Rates Billing Authorities". Council Tax Rates. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  9. "Local Plan Responses – within and outside London". Mayor of London. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  10. "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  11. "Council minutes". Havering Council. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  12. "London Boroughs Political Almanac". London Councils. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  13. Boothroyd, David (9 September 2022). "In memoriam, Queen Elizabeth II". Local Councils. Thorncliffe. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  14. Boothroyd, David (9 February 2024). "Quartet of change". Local Councils. Thorncliffe. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  15. "Three Conservative councillors leave party to join Havering Residents Association". The Havering Daily. 26 April 2024. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  16. Lynch, Ben (24 June 2022). "Councillor leaves HRA group on council over Labour agreement". Romford Recorder. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  17. "Your councillors by party". Havering Council. Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  18. Private Eye, Issue 1527, p.21
  19. Thomson, Charles (13 May 2021). "Havering electoral wards face axe as borough is split into 20 areas". Romford Recorder. Retrieved 15 April 2024.

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