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Is any of this MOL? Open Space? Public land? Up for sale?

THERE’s a single-line-item buried deep in Appendix 4 for Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

Here, half-way down on page 86 (N.B. numbering at the side)

General Fund Capital Programme, 2019–2024

Features an amount of £35,900,000

What's all this about?

Guv’nor?

Cabinet
Tuesday, 11th December, 2018 6.30 pm

Agenda item # 9. MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2018/19-2022/23 (PAGES 35 - 92)

Tags: 20 acres, 6th form block, Cabinet Members, DfE, Ejiofor, Fortismere School, Governor, Tetherdown, The Art of the Deal, Trump University, More…audit trail, catchment area, conflict of interest, decision in principle, declarations, developers, documentation, education, equity, fairness, financial risk, foundation school, land sales, land tricks, map, opaque, open land, plans, playing fields, pluscachange, property deal, real estate, risk, sell-off, social housing?, transparency, wheeler dealer, who knew?

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So far I've not even had the standard 'out of office' reply, from either Fortismere or the Cabinet support. But I have just spoken to Felicity on 02084892929 who has promised to get back to me

  • Telephone The Cabinet Team on 020 8489 2929

Cllr Ejiofor appears to have learnt little-to-nothing from the HDV débâcle.

I suppose it shouldn't really surprise because, although as the new leader, he did pull the plug on the HDV (he could hardly do otherwise), there is scant evidence that he actually opposed it.

The successful Stop HDV campaign described his record on the HDV as "spotty".

The school also publishes the minutes of the governing body, once they have been signed off at the following meeting. The body which meets 3 times a year. The most recent minutes displayed are for 12 March 2018, and there should have been a meeting on 18 June, with minutes also on the website. It would be interesting to know what was said about the £36m Magic Money Tree Site Improvement Project at that meeting, also if JE resigned as a governor then, and whether he gave a reason.

MOST will know of the double sackings from the Haringey Council Cabinet that were executed on New Years Eve by the current council leader Joseph Ejiofor.

In their subsequent statements, each of the two Cabinet members sacked – Ahmet and Brabazon cite or mention Ejiofor's Fortismere School scheme in the context of what lay behind their sacking.

This huge, secret capital project—like other grandiose Haringey schemes before it—has in my view, disaster written all over it. Big bang projects that bled money needed elsewhere and cost our Borough dear. Haringey hasn't yet learnt that they're not good at this land-and-property dealing stuff and might better avoid it. Whether or not the project goes ahead, large amounts of public are likely to be spent. It looks like a personal pet project, played with public money. The likely hallmarks are:

► Risks: unknown

► Scrutiny and oversight: nonexistent

► Secrecy: at this stage, more than the HDV

Concern amongst Councillors and Officers

► Money: £35,900,000 of public money involved

► Social housing? intimated but could be deceptive

► Profits? hopes to make a turn on a property deal*

► Public policy development: outside the public gaze

► Wheeling and dealing in private, behind closed doors

► Attention: this will gradually assume more attention as information emerges

Cllr Ejifor's promotion of his Big F scheme may yet mark the beginning of the end of his struggling leadership, in a broadly similar way that the trajectory of the previous leader's #HDV could be seen near the beginning of 2017 (half-way, here).

*the "consideration" for the 2006 Haringey lease of Alexandra Palace, included a modest "premium" (thought to be £1.5m) plus a never-disclosed profit-sharing deal. Had it gone ahead, the profit-sharing would have vied with the HDV for most fanciful flight of fancy. The profit-sharing deal was made with a former slum-landlord, with whom the Labour Council was happy, even desperate, to do business. That Lease was executed in 2006 or 2007 by the current Cabinet Member for Strategic Regeneration, Cllr. Charles Adje.

 

Fortismere colleges are called Rhodes Ephesus , Colosseum , Alexandria , Petra and Olympia. Places renowned now mainly for their ruins

HERE is a short, rough fly-around of Fortismere's Sixth Form block. It is on Tetherdown (road), next door to the Muswell Hill Synagogue.

I haven't seen the block close up, but I'm prepared to believe reports of a poor, dilapidated condition. It's understandable that the school authorities wish to replace it.

The £36 million pound question is—given that the schools is now a Foundation School—how and why should this involve Haringey Council capital?

Are there any alternative uses? Have they been considered? Could alternatives have an equal claim on the tens of millions of capital available?

Given the size of public money involved, the secrecy surrounding this huge project is astonishing.

Details appear to be known by a tiny group of people, at the centre of which is former school Governor Joseph Ejiofor – currently leader of the council – and he is not saying.

Is this good enough?

FOLLOWING this thread about the Ejiofor-Fortismere scheme, the current council leader earlier today sent the statement below to members of the Haringey Labour Party, hours before it’s covered in the Ham and High. Some points:

  • up until now, there has been next-to-no detail on the £35,900,000 item, nodded through by Cabinet in December
  • good governance and procedure seem to have been given a wide berth
  • mentioned in the media recently – what Cllr Ejiofor means, is this thread (at the time of writing)
  • the gates are prised open a little: without this exposure (likely leading to questions from his own Party), the initial explanation be;pw was unlikely to have been forthcoming
  • the statement was sent to me by an ordinary member of the Labour Party: rather than addressed solely to members of Cllr Ejiofor's political Party, the statement is owed to the whole of the Haringey public, involving as it does £35.9m of public money
  • in three places, the leader of the council throws shade at officers, suggesting they are responsible for the one-line-item's appearance – (AKA, Miss, those big boys did it Miss and then they ran away)
  • the statement confirms or provides some information, but raises further questions …

_______________________________________________

Dear […]

 

A proposed project involving Fortismere School has been mentioned in the media recently.

I want to make clear what the proposal is about.

 

First let’s correct some misrepresentations:

  • Haringey Council is not 'giving' £35.9m to Fortismere School.
  • Haringey Council is not spending half of the school’s capital budget at Fortismere School.

 

The facts are as follows:

 

Fortismere is a Foundation School. As such, the School grounds are held in trust by the Governors – separate from the Council. However, the Council still retains a statutory duty for repairing the school buildings, and indeed spent c£150k repairing the Sixth Form block roof in 2017.

 

For the record, I was a member of the governing body of Fortismere School between 29th June 2016 and 11th of May 2018. I am one of four current councillors who have children at the school. The school had been discussing its options for permanently resolving the problems of a decaying sixth from block for at least two years prior to the time I joined the governing body. Council officers were aware of this project at the highest levels at that time, and had already put money into assisting the school to develop some proposals.

 

Though the governing body initially considered approaching a private developer, in 2017 they decided to approach the council to see whether it wanted to be a partner in this potential development, which would build a new school building, council housing and housing for sale.

 

We are now a Council that wants to build traditional council homes. This proposal has the potential to enable the council to build council homes in Muswell Hill at nil cost. However, there is, at the moment, no concrete proposal and no decision is anywhere near being taken yet.

 

Finance officers have included it in the proposed capital budget because they thought it to be appropriate.

 

It was included as a line item in the capital budget for 2019/20 because there was a possibility that a proposal might be developed in this period and so officers thought it was appropriate to include it, under the criteria that it would be self-financing. It will not be taken forward unless the structure of the project (conditional itself on cabinet and group approval) ensures that the Council gets its money back in full.

 

Every member of the cabinet at that time knew the full reality of the relevance that this line item had, and how far the project was from a report coming to cabinet. They are also aware that the full options appraisal for all school repairs is due in the summer. Every cabinet member was clear that, if the Fortismere project was to be approved, that it would not take a single penny away from the allocation of capital available to repair Haringey schools.

 

If following our feasibility and impact study, the council decides to support the project, there will be a number of steps to take before this proposal can progress, including a Group and Cabinet decision on the project. I want to be clear that we will only consider a proposal that is value for money for the council, fits in with our plans for the wider Haringey school estate and is one that will genuinely provide social benefit for the community.

 

To reiterate. We will not be 'giving' £35.9 million to the school. The aim would be for it to be a self-funding partnership that fits in with the objectives of the schools Capital programme.

 

I hope that this clarifies the facts around the proposals at Fortismere School.

 

Both myself and your ward councillors will keep you up to date if and when there is anything further to report.

 

Regards,

 

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor

Leader of Haringey Council

AS A RESULT of this thread about the Ejiofor-Fortismere scheme, the current council leader felt obliged yesterday to send out the statement below to members of the Haringey Labour Party (only), a day before it’s covered in the Ham and High. Some points:

  • without this exposure, that likely led to questions from his own Party, the initial explanation below was unlikely to have been forthcoming
  • up until now, there has been next-to-no detail on the £35,900,000 item, nodded through by Cabinet in December
  • the gates of secrecy are prised open a little, but good governance and procedure seem to have been given a wide berth
  • the statement was sent to me by an ordinary member of the Labour Party, but rather than being addressed solely to members of Cllr Ejiofor's Party, the statement is owed to the whole of the Haringey public, involving as it does £35.9m of public money
  • in three places, the leader of the council throws shade at officers, suggesting they are responsible for the one-line-item's appearance. (AKA, Sorry Miss, some big boys did it Miss and then they ran away Miss)
  • mentioned in the media recently – what Cllr Ejiofor means, is this thread
  • What's significant is not what is said but what has been left out. The statement confirms or provides some information, but raises further questions.

_______________________________________________

Dear […]

 

A proposed project involving Fortismere School has been mentioned in the media recently.

I want to make clear what the proposal is about.

 

First let’s correct some misrepresentations:

  • Haringey Council is not 'giving' £35.9m to Fortismere School.
  • Haringey Council is not spending half of the school’s capital budget at Fortismere School.

 

The facts are as follows:

 

Fortismere is a Foundation School. As such, the School grounds are held in trust by the Governors – separate from the Council. However, the Council still retains a statutory duty for repairing the school buildings, and indeed spent c£150k repairing the Sixth Form block roof in 2017.

 

For the record, I was a member of the governing body of Fortismere School between 29th June 2016 and 11th of May 2018. I am one of four current councillors who have children at the school. The school had been discussing its options for permanently resolving the problems of a decaying sixth from block for at least two years prior to the time I joined the governing body. Council officers were aware of this project at the highest levels at that time, and had already put money into assisting the school to develop some proposals.

 

Though the governing body initially considered approaching a private developer, in 2017 they decided to approach the council to see whether it wanted to be a partner in this potential development, which would build a new school building, council housing and housing for sale.

 

We are now a Council that wants to build traditional council homes. This proposal has the potential to enable the council to build council homes in Muswell Hill at nil cost. However, there is, at the moment, no concrete proposal and no decision is anywhere near being taken yet.

 

Finance officers have included it in the proposed capital budget because they thought it to be appropriate.

 

It was included as a line item in the capital budget for 2019/20 because there was a possibility that a proposal might be developed in this period and so officers thought it was appropriate to include it, under the criteria that it would be self-financing. It will not be taken forward unless the structure of the project (conditional itself on cabinet and group approval) ensures that the Council gets its money back in full.

 

Every member of the cabinet at that time knew the full reality of the relevance that this line item had, and how far the project was from a report coming to cabinet. They are also aware that the full options appraisal for all school repairs is due in the summer. Every cabinet member was clear that, if the Fortismere project was to be approved, that it would not take a single penny away from the allocation of capital available to repair Haringey schools.

 

If following our feasibility and impact study, the council decides to support the project, there will be a number of steps to take before this proposal can progress, including a Group and Cabinet decision on the project. I want to be clear that we will only consider a proposal that is value for money for the council, fits in with our plans for the wider Haringey school estate and is one that will genuinely provide social benefit for the community.

 

To reiterate. We will not be 'giving' £35.9 million to the school. The aim would be for it to be a self-funding partnership that fits in with the objectives of the schools Capital programme.

 

I hope that this clarifies the facts around the proposals at Fortismere School.

 

Both myself and your ward councillors will keep you up to date if and when there is anything further to report.

 

Regards,

 

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor

Leader of Haringey Council

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