Havering Council’s joint Residents’ Association (RA) and Labour administration has remained numerically unchanged after a by-election in the borough’s Upminster ward produced an easy win for the Upminster Residents’ Association candidate.
Jacqueline Williams retained the seat for the local RA with 1,642 votes, finishing well ahead of Edward Green (421 votes), who ran as the Conservative candidate despite having been suspended by his party prior to the election after complaints were made about his social media output.
At last May’s borough elections in the outer east London borough, the Tories ceased to be the largest party, leaving them and RA councillors with 23 seats each and then in opposition as the RA block reached an agreement with the nine-strong Labour group to run the council under the leadership of RA councillor Ray Morgon.
The by-election, which was held due to the death of long-serving previous RA incumbent Linda Hawthorn, saw Labour’s John Sullivan finish third with 234 votes, followed by former councillor David Durant, an Independent who has a long association with far right parties, with 150 votes. The Green Party’s candidate came fifth and the Liberal Democrats’ sixth.
Green, who would have had to sit as an Independent had he won, was suspended by the Tories after Facebook output from him which insulted Muslims and claimed most of those hospitalised after contracting Covid-19 during the pandemic only needed such care because they were “fat and lazy” were brought to their attention, including by the Romford Recorder.
Shortly before yesterday’s vote, the Recorder published a letter from Green in which he defended calling environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg a “little autistic messiah”. In other Facebook posts he called a black woman a “race baiting attention whore” and supported remarks by Andrew Bridgen MP comparing the use of Covid jabs to the Holocaust, which resulted in Bridgen’s expulsion from the Conservatives. Green claimed to the Recorder that he was the victim of a smear campaign.
Turnout at the by-election was 25 per cent. Williams joins two fellow RA councillors in representing her ward.