An investigation will be carried out into the allegations
Damian White was recorded discussing the way he could influence ward boundary changes to make them “politically advantageous” for his Conservative Party.
Dagenham and Rainham MP, Jon Cruddas, had written to Havering Council’s monitoring officer, urging him to look into the issues raised in the recording.
Mr. Cruddas received a reply yesterday, which said an investigation would be conducted by an officer from another local council.
BREAKING: #Havering Monitoring Officer to launch investigation into gerrymandering charges against Council Leader and Tory Group. This must be an independent process and I will be making sure the person conducting the review has no ties to Havering or the #Tories. pic.twitter.com/fYxoW7O9rY
— Jon Cruddas (@JonCruddas_1) July 23, 2020
The recording, which was made by former Tory councillor Bob Perry, included Cllr White claiming that the council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert, had allowed a Governance Committee to review the options on the table before they went to a full council meeting.
This allowed the Conservatives to remove the options they were against.
The only option that went before the full council is known as Option 4A. This was a version suggested by Cllr White, which featured amendments he made to an option initially suggested by the council.
When this was approved at a council meeting, it was put forward to the Boundary Commission (the LGBCE) as Havering Council’s preferred option.
The Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, then contacted the LGBCE to give his support to the council’s option.
Speaking to Time 107.5 earlier this week, Cllr White claimed the recording created “a distorted view” of the conversation that was had.
He also pointed out that the LGBCE makes its decision independently.
A spokesperson for Havering Council said: “We can confirm that a complaint has been received and will be reviewed in line with our corporate policies.
“In this case, given the Monitoring Officer has been involved in providing advice in relation to the boundary process, a Monitoring Officer from another council has been asked to review the complaint, which is entirely normal.”
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