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Dear General Public,
On 24 June 2017, the Cabinet Member for Housing and for Regeneration—and for Planning also—wrote a lengthy attempted defence of the Cabinet's controversial proposal for the Haringey Development Vehicle (due for Cabinet approval on 3 July).
Rather than make this available to the Council as a whole—or to the public in general—it was sent only to Labour Party members, on both sides of the Borough. It's been suggested to me that this was an abuse of the Labour Party's email list, but that is of course an internal matter for the Labour Party.
What is not an internal matter, is the Development Vehicle itself and the merits and demerits of the opaque and complicated scheme.
It is huge in size. It's the biggest decision that Haringey Borough would ever make. It is a matter of much public interest and concern. It could bankrupt our Borough and cause Council Tax to jump and services to be slashed even more.
Eventually, it would see the transfer of £2,000,000,000 worth of Council land and buildings to a Limited Liability Partnership, an LLP that would be dominated by a questionable developer with a chequered history.
It would bind our Borough to that single developer, for 15 to 25 years: or more. It shares features with the dubious Private Finance Initiatives that have cost the government so dear (that's us!).
No Member of the Labour Party was able to put any questions before the perhaps several thousand Members who were sent this prospectus, or to offer a countervailing view.
The account is partial in two ways. It:
Some of my friends in the Labour Party are unhappy that this mail-out is an abuse and that the one-way megaphone does not allow a wide response or wide discussion. Decisions that are subject to bright light and scrutiny are well-rounded decisions that are more likely to endure in the long term.
Please feel free to comment on Cllr. Strickland's claims and assertions (including New Labour supporters).
I am a Liberal Democrat Councillor on
Haringey Council and Member of the Opposition
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Cllr Alan Strickland <REDACTED>
Date: 24 Jun 2017 5:36 pm
Subject: Haringey Development Vehicle - an update
Since February, the Council has been working hard on the latest round of discussions on proposals for a new joint company to deliver some of our ambitions for homes, jobs and community facilities - the ‘Haringey Development Vehicle.’
This is a very important decision for the council and one that I know has aroused strong views, for and against, among party members. I’m very grateful to all the members who have shared their views and raised questions, both by email and at the many branch meetings I have attended.
I wanted to take some time today to set out in detail the progress we’ve made and give you an important update on the decision being recommended to the Council’s Cabinet in July.
The journey so far
As a Labour council we are determined to make sure that we bring many more jobs, affordable homes and new community facilities to our borough.
But all too often, Labour councils in London have only been able to secure major investment by handing over land entirely to developers, losing all control over what happens and losing all of the gains of new development.
In Haringey, we have worked hard to explore ways of securing the funding and expertise we need to bring major increases in jobs, homes and community facilities, while retaining real democratic control by elected councillors and a share in the profits for our communities.
A cross-party Future of Housing Review saw councillors travel around the country in 2014/15 to see how other Labour councils were meeting these challenges. The councillors saw a wide range of approaches first hand and concluded that a joint company was likely to be the best way to secure the jobs and homes we need, while keeping the council in the driving seat. This proposal, which has had the working title of the ‘Haringey Development Vehicle’, has been carefully developed since 2015. We have reached an important milestone and I want to give you an important update on this today.
Important progress made
The Council ran a rigorous 18 month procurement process to choose a partner to set up a joint company. After a long process of carefully considering bids against the criteria agreed by the Cabinet, Lendlease emerged as the strongest bidder.
Lendlease are a construction and development company with a strong track record of working with the public sector. They built the Olympic Park Athletes’ Village, the new BBC Broadcasting House and NHS hospitals in Manchester and Birmingham. Lendlease also led the refurbishment of Tate Britain, the new galleries at the Science Museum and works to the National Theatre. Summaries of recent projects are available from http://www.lendlease.com/uk/projects/#/projects/all-projects
After a vote by Labour councillors earlier this year, Cabinet agreed to enter into detailed discussions with Lendlease to see whether they could meet our stringent requirements. Could they work with us to guarantee a right to return for all tenants? Could they guarantee trade union recognition and the London Living Wage throughout the supply chain? Could they build the high number of affordable homes we so badly need? Do they have the financial resources to help us to make large scale improvements really happen? Can they prove to us they have the staff with the expertise we’re looking for?
Lendlease’s proposals have been scrutinised, reviewed, tested and checked by senior officers, lawyers, financial advisors and procurement experts.
I’m delighted to let you know that these discussions have now concluded and we have reached a landmark proposal. I wanted to set out in some detail the plans which were published in Cabinet papers by the Council and which I believe which bring huge benefits to our residents. (The main report can be found here and a full range of background papers can be found here)
Major benefits to Haringey residents now and in the future
Thousands of new homes, with at least 40% affordable
· 6,400 new homes across Wood Green, North Tottenham and Muswell Hill
· At least 40% of these homes will be affordable, with 50% affordable homes on the former Cranwood care home site in Muswell Hill to boost affordable housing in the West of the borough
· A guaranteed Right to Return written into legal agreements and Cabinet policy, so that all Council tenants on estates being re-built get a brand new home in the same area on equivalent terms
· Extensive further consultation with tenants and leaseholders, supported by Independent Tenant and Leaseholder Advisors chosen by residents themselves
New jobs with programmes to help Haringey residents and local businesses make the most of the new opportunities
· £8m to fund skills projects including a jobs programme for residents with mental ill health
· A £20m long term social investment programme which will work with local residents to improve health, the local environment and support community involvement
· On Union recognition, Lendlease have agreed to sign a Framework Agreement, like the one signed at the Olympic Park, which will guarantee:
o Union access
o Local labour and training requirements
o Cracking down on bogus self-employment by sub-contracting firms
o Work throughout the supply chain and running local suppliers days
o Paying London Living Wage and enforcing this throughout the supply chain
· Total of £20m of jobs and skills investment in phase 1 to fund:
o Programmes with local schools
o Community outreach scheme to support local applications for roles
o Building a sustainable supply chain
o A programme to oversee prioritising spend in the local economy
New community facilities
· New buildings for schools at Northumberland Park
· A brand new library built in Wood Green
· New parks and green spaces throughout the schemes, with biodiversity corridors and other green features
· New community spaces
A major boosting to our local town centres and local economy
· Major improvement to Wood Green town centre including new shops, office space homes and public space
· New shops and enterprise space in Northumberland Park
· Better management of the Council owned industrial estates to make them fit for the modern economy and make sure that public land is delivering as many jobs as it can
Major financial contributions to public services and local community infrastructure
· The Council will receive 50% of the profits of the new company, which is currently estimated to bring £275m to Haringey Council over the 20 year partnership
· The new homes, business space and other development are estimated to bring up to £37.7m in Community Infrastructure Levy to fund health facilities, parks, roads and other infrastructure
· The projected increase in council tax from new homes and increase in business rates from new commercial space is estimated to bring the Council up to £13m more each year to fund public services
Ensuring strong on-going democratic control
Crucially, in bringing these major benefits, there will be very strong on-going democratic control. The new joint company can only operate within the priorities and projects set out in the company’s business plan, which is agreed by Cabinet. No significant changes can be made to this agreed plan without Cabinet approval.
3 of the 6 board members of the new company will be councillors and senior council staff, so no decisions can be taken without council involvement and agreement.
No Council land can be transferred to the new company for development unless the plan and the Equalities Impact Assessment has been approved by Cabinet, and until the Council’s cross-party planning committee has given planning approval.
A flexible approach for the future
As land will be transferred slowly, on an incremental, phased basis, over 20 years, the Council retains significant flexibility for the future.
Given the uncertain political situation and the challenges of Brexit, this means that we have very significant flexibility. If more money becomes available from Government for Council housing, having the joint company in place would allow us to build that housing much more quickly. Alternatively, the Council could choose not to give some pieces of land to the joint company, and build council homes itself.
If Brexit creates difficulties in the housing market, we could choose to build different types of homes, or build homes at different times.
Fundamentally, setting up the new joint company creates a structure to enable us to motor ahead with these exciting plans. For future phases, our hands are not tied for the future and we can amend our plans according to what’s sensible at the time.
We have reached a proposal which meets the tests set out by Cabinet and the additional tests set out by the Labour Group of Councillors. It was for these reasons that Labour councillors voted on 15 June to approve these plans and for the joint company to go ahead.
The Scrutiny Committee has continued to work hard on this issue. We continue to carefully review all suggestions for improvement and I’m pleased to report that Cabinet has published today its intention to accept or partially accept the majority of the recommendations from the latest report. The Cabinet’s response can be found here and the Scrutiny reports available here
If Cabinet agrees to proceed, the joint company will be set up and staff recruited. Many of the areas proposed for regeneration have already been involved in major consultations. However, if the company is set up, further rounds of consultation will be launched to work hand in hand with tenants and leaseholders to shape detailed plans for change.
I know that these proposals have been controversial for some party members, but I hope that you will agree that what is set out here represents a major step forward in making our Labour ambitions for jobs, affordable homes and new community facilities a reality.
Further information about the proposals is available at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/regeneration/haringey-development-vehicle and detailed FAQs covering the full range of issues are available at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/regeneration/haringey-development-vehicl...
If you have any questions, please do email me on <REDACTED>
Cllr Alan Strickland
Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Planning
Reproduced from an email sent by The Labour Party. Promoted by Joanna Christophides on behalf of Tottenham & Hornsey & Wood Green Labour Parties all at 28 Middle Lane London N8 8PL.
To unsubscribe, please click <REDACTED>. Privacy: we won't pass on your email address to anyone else. See http://www.labour.org.uk/privacy
Oh, there's so much that could be said about this, which would best be done by people much more knowledgable than I. Here is just one point though: 'Thousands of new homes, with at least 40% affordable'.
In the Cabinet Meeting held on 18th October 2016, when discussing the Stock Investment & Estate Renewal Policy:-
'In response to questions from Cllr Engert the following information was noted:
Cllr Strickland provided a reminder that the 40% target of affordable housing was subject to viability and the two schemes mentioned in Tottenham [High Road West, Northumberland Park - see 3rd supporting document ] were part of a regeneration, development and restoration and renewal scheme including community facilities which causes higher cost and means difficulties in meeting the 40% target. The Council will always continue to push for 40% affordable housing but there was a need to be honest in the report that the cost of developments makes it difficult to meet this target.'
So at least really means at most, and only if we don't give you nice facilities.
This viability get-out has also been noted by Rev Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty.
Of course 'affordable' doesn't really mean affordable, but that's another matter.
Here is the full text of the agenda item.
No doubt we should be prepared for a barrage of complaints about the leaking of this email.
Have you read the personal account of Cllr Strickland's people skills. This email seems to be a fine example. One fears a lot of it is empty words.
As for "a rigorous 18 month procurement process" the council ran a similarly lengthy, similarly rigorous process over the future of Hornsey Town Hall. See how much is left of the bid which won the contract.
Whilst the email address Cllr Strickland used to send this email may be a secret, this one firstname.lastname@example.org is not, should you wish to contact him.
As Bob Lindsay-Smith points out Cllr Strickland has already provided the weasel words which allow almost any part of the agreement to be varied - that's the problem with flexibility, your contractual counterpart has options as well. A recurring theme of the Hornsey Town Hall presentation was "we are currently re-running the viability assessment" .
And as for agreement within the Haringey Labour Group, this is achieved by the imposition of collective responsibility and the disposition of paid positions of responsibility.