Havering council u-turns on plans to scrap installation of Hanukkah menorah after sparking fury among locals

1 December 2023, 15:03

Havering Council has scrapped the Hanukkah plans
Havering Council has u-turned on its plans to scrap the installation. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Havering council has u-turned on its decision to scrap the installation of a menorah for Hanukkah after sparking fury among locals.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The council had scrapped plans to put up the menorah outside the town hall in Romford on December 12, blaming "an increase in the number of hate crimes in Havering, both towards the Jewish and Muslim community".

Havering said installing the menorah "could risk further inflaming tensions within our communities", with a spokesperson also saying the council was concerned about vandalism.

But it has since u-turned on the decision, saying it was "delighted" to announce its intention to proceed with the "permanent installation of the menorah as originally planned".

The candle lighting ceremony will also go ahead as first intended on December 12, the council said.

Read more: Fury as east London council scraps plans to install Hanukkah menorah over fears of 'inflaming community tensions'

It comes after council members met with the London Jewish Forum, the Essex Jewish Community Council and local Rabbis Sufrin and Sunderland to discuss the reasons behind the pause "in a constructive manner".

The representatives from the Jewish community were able to "reassure the council on all of the concerns it had previously expressed", a statement said.

London Borough of Havering town hall
London Borough of Havering town hall. Picture: Alamy

Havering council leader said: "We had a very constructive meeting to discuss our concerns and I fully appreciate why this is such an important instillation for our Jewish community.

"We look forward to the completion of the permanent installation and our first Chanukah ceremony.

"We also look forward to continuing to work closely with our Jewish community and other faiths on our commitment to a cohesive and inclusive borough."

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin MBE, Executive Director of Chabad North London & Essex, said: "Following a positive meeting at Havering Council we are absolutely delighted that Council Leader Ray Morgon carefully listened to us and has come to the conclusion that we will all continue with our original plans for Havering Town Hall to host our menorah for the duration of Chanukah.

"The Essex Jewish community has proudly been displaying menorahs for 35 years and this is our tenth and newest.

"We look forward to celebrating together with the entire Jewish community of Havering and beyond at our very special celebration on Tuesday 12 December."

Daniella Myers, the Director of the London Jewish Forum, said: "The London Jewish Forum thanks the Council for meeting us at short notice, and for their careful consideration of our views. The London Jewish Forum was able to provide the wider picture, which had important implications beyond Havering.

"Our community has been listened to and as a result we are very pleased to say the planned installation of the Havering Menorah will be going ahead.

"We encourage all those who want to celebrate with the Havering Jewish community to join us on Tuesday 12 December."

Daniel Rosenberg, Chair of the Essex Jewish Community Council, said: "Our community is delighted that this has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties and that our Menorah will be proudly displayed at Havering Town Hall for the duration of this important festival."