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Haringey Council Slows Down Major Development and Regeneration Plans to Allow for More Scrutiny and Consultation

At the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on 17 January 2017, councillors debated a report on the governance arrangements for the proposed ‘Haringey Development Vehicle’. The recommendation from the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel (HRSP) stated: ‘On the basis that at present there are no governance arrangements that adequately mitigate the risks of this scheme, the panel has no other option than to recommend that the HDV plans are halted and that further scrutiny work should be undertaken’[1].

‘We are relieved to note that the OSC have taken these recommendations on board and have slowed down the process for now’ says Lucy Craig, former Haringey Councillor and Haringey Green Party Secretary. ‘But the hard work needs to carry on. There are all the risks identified in the HRSP report but we have other concerns about this proposed scheme which we will want to raise in the consultations to come’, she continues.

Haringey Green Party wants to put on record that there are many issues that have to be addressed in any future discussion and consultation and the most significant for us are:

  1. This proposal effectively binds the council to one development partner for up to 20 years. The Council is putting itself into a vulnerable position. It could not afford to get out of the deal if the developer walks away and it has burned bridges with other development partners.
  2. This proposal involves giving carte blanche to one private sector partner; they will have a monopoly position in Haringey for a long period of time, giving it the ability to dictate terms to small and medium sized local enterprises. This has to be bad news for local firms and for employment in the sector locally.
  3. This proposal includes an implicit assumption in favour of large projects rather than smaller ones. Small and medium size local enterprises will be frozen out of development opportunities in their own right; it is also bad news for local residents because participation in decision-making is much more difficult to achieve in large scale projects.
  4. There has been scant consultation and there is an assumption of large scale decanting of residents and businesses. The level of disruption that is likely to be caused to local people and local business is not being given significant enough weight in the decision making.
  5. The current model seems to suggest that the Board Members of the HDV that represent the Council would be 3 people (of whom 2 would be officers and one would be an elected member). That seems to be wholly undemocratic.

Tags: Democracy, Haringey Council, Housing, Private Finance, Regeneration, Transparency

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"Slowed Down" ?

What action was taken by the OSC?

Martina's posting reads that the full OSC have agreed and adopted the recommendations of the HRSP. These will now go to Cabinet for discussion and a response. Cabinet will be foolish not to take them seriously but are not bound to follow them. 

It reads that way - but what did they actually decide to do?

When the OSC referred back the matter of the disposal of Hornsey Town Hall to Cabinet it resulted in no delay to that timetable whatsoever. If this is a repeat, what price the 'slowing down' of things this time? The OJEU process for selecting a preferred private sector partner for the HDV is close to completion...

There is no evidence of a slowdown of any sort in yesterday's press release regarding the Future of Wood Green.  It is only a press release, but there is no mention in it, nor in wither of the linked pages, of where the £3.5 billion is to come from. Even the HDV carries a headline figure of  only £2 billion. And I think the Crossrail station is still only an aspiration. But the Cabinet is very confident. 

Looking at the OSC papers that Martina has linked to we find a list of recommendations (section 7 p193) .

Part of recommendation 2 reads "Given the scale and nature of the decision to authorise the proposed, final authorisation should be reserved to Full Council and not Cabinet." Presumably this might help address the "fundamental democratic deficit" (Recommendation 1.1). Bizarrely, though part of the solution for this is in Recommendation 3 that when the HDV is set up "ultimate responsibility for decisions must remain with the Leader, Cabinet Member and Head of Paid Service", which is either like asking your dog to hold its own lead, or making sure we know who to sack when it's all gone horribly wrong.

The press release is clearly timed to outflank and rebut any reporting of the campaign against the HDV and last night's scrutiny committee (BBC breakfast news was carrying the story this morning).

Readers may find it telling that Haringey's cabinet is now essentially briefing against the work of its own scrutiny committee.

Alan Stanton has published an email he has received from the Leader of Haringey Council and his response to it. Not much sign of a slowdown, rather the reverse, and briefing against is something of an understatement.

Martina Weitsch, Forget the new TV version of "Sherlock" - now disappeared up its own Matrix. The original Conan Doyle stories are still entertaining; as well as having some lessons to teach.One is the importance of watchdogs which don't bark.

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

I haven't read or listened to all the stuff now being put out by Claire Kober and her chums like Strickland - so I may be wrong. But until now I haven't found *any* acknowledgement of the factual findings of the Scrutiny Panel. Or consideration of its recommendations.

Instead, with emails, on websites, on radio, TV, and twitter, Claire and the "Cabinet" are still at it.  Recommending that thousands of Haringey families and traders must have their homes and business premises demolished. With the land handed-over to some property developers partnership "Vehicle" in a deal which really is too good to be true. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

PFI? Nah, they insist. Nothing like that. The Ally Pally cock-up? Absolutely no. Absolutely it won't happen? No, absolutely it's a good question. Tech Refresh?  TechnoPark? Apex House undersold? McAslan studio fiasco? No, no. no no no. They were all splendid successes in every respect.

Scrutiny Committees on local Councils are supposedly one of their important watchdogs. This one has actually barked. Kober and Co are pretending they didn't.

It seems, Martina Weitsch that you may have a reasonable expectation that a sensible local council would value the work of its Scrutiny Committee.That evidenced and thorough Scrutiny reports would be used to improve overall policy-making and particular areas of the Council's day-to-day working and decision-making.

In my earlier years on the Council I think that did happen. But then I would say that, wouldn't I? Especially as I took part in and from time to time chaired Scrutiny panels and in a few cases helped to draft their reports .

But that was before the rise to power of Cllr Claire Kober.  Who does not appear to see any value in listening to, and trying to understand those who disagree with her. And it's even worse than that. As you yourself know, Martina - because you posted a comment on the story - everyone must work to and be loyal to the Supreme Maximum Leader or risk suspension as "uncomradely".


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