Since the last election in 2006, Havering Conservatives have been working hard to give the borough a new start after years of Labour tax and spend which left Havering high and dry. After years of going no where under Labour, Havering now has a new vision for the future, a Living Ambition which is guiding the borough’s development and setting out what we plan to achieve over the next 20 years – namely providing the best quality of life in London.
Our five goals to achieving this are:
Environment: to ensure a clean, safe and green borough.
Learning: to achieve excellence in education and learning.
Towns and Communities: to provide opportunities for all through economic, social and cultural activity.
Individuals: to value and enhance the life of every individual.
Value: to deliver high customer satisfaction and a stable council tax.
In Havering we really value our ability to pull together as a community and to support both young and old alike, yet with the highest number of elderly people in any London Borough our grant settlement does not recognise this making it harder for us to deliver the services that our residents deserve. Yet this kind of constraint has made us become more innovative and helped us to squeeze every pound that little bit harder – something that every Council will need to do over the next few years. To this end, we have made efficiency
savings of £20.5m over the last four years. Furthermore to support our residents we have reduced Council Tax to just 1.9% this year down on the 3.5% that we originally pledged in our 2006 manifesto.
We have also invested and with 10 flagship projects around the borough, including everything from the library modernisation programme (boasting one of the greenest public buildings in London), to a major regeneration of a housing estate (Harold Hill) to the modernisation of our primary schools we are setting the pace in East London. Havering can also be particularly proud of its multi-million pound investment into roads and pavements which is making up for years of Labour mis-spending.
In Rainham, we have just launched an £80m regeneration programme called Rainham Compass which focuses on providing better services to the local community – a new health centre and library for example,
through to new education facilities and better transport links with a new railway station at Beam Reach and a major bus interchange. This will complement a whole range of other initiatives which seeks to preserve the heritage of Rainham Village and to make the most of Rainham’s waterside location on the River Thames.
Havering has made fantastic progress over the past few years, yet there is still much more to do. Recently we learnt that the Government had decided to break its promise for decent homes funding of some £120m, meaning thousands of council tenants would go without badly needed new bathrooms, windows and kitchens. Fortunately for London, the new Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson has stepped into the breach and plugged the funding gap of which I know thousands of Havering residents will be thankful.
As we work towards the next election in 2010, Havering can take heart in the fact that the borough has never been in a more focused and driven position for meeting the needs of its residents and achieving their aspirations for the future.