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THE ART of the deal: no one does land deals like Haringey Council's Cabinet!

IN A NEW benchmark for property dealing, the Haringey Council (Labour) Cabinet has agreed a stunning new disposal-proposal, quite audacious in scope. The HDV-theme of passing out public land assets continues but here, it's on steriods.

Working Party to decide on the final site for disposal will exclude all LibDem Councillors and those sceptical Labour Councillors. Were the favoured site to go-ahead—Chestnuts Park—the new “partnership” with the (quasi-) private sector would feature these highlights,

Highlights

  • No Public Consultation
  • The disposal of circa 10% of a park, on a 125-year lease
  • The gift of £3,000,000 of public money to the favoured “partner”
  • The demolition of an existing Community Centre—it does need a lick of paint!
  • A new building, probably 5,500 square metres, occupying the corner of a public park —[N.B. see correction below]
  • The receipt into the Council's Capital Account of as much as £1 (one pound sterling)
  • Final details to be approved by a Council Officer

Links

  1. Cabinet meeting – Item 215:
    ‘Agreement to enter into partnership with OnSide, along with an in principle decision on a Youth Zone site’  Haringey Labour Council Cabinet Decision (where again, and in order to promote a deal, there is mention that this is the 21st Century) —PDF here
  2. The Friends of Chestnuts Park
  3. For more information, please contact the Cabinet Member leading on this achievement, Cllr. Eugene Ayisi

Disclosure

I am a LibDem Haringey Councillor; I was a signatory of the Liberal Democrat Call-In of the Cabinet Decision to go ahead with the HDV; I also salute the Labour Councillors (the Tottenham-10) who did likewise and who now —unjustly—face punishment by Labour's Whip team (Labour's Chief Whip is Cllr. Adam Jogee).

Tags: Blairite, HDV-like, Haringey Development Vehicle, New Labour, PFI, cart before the horse, folly, foolish, gullible, incompetent, More…judgement, private finance initiative, reckless, stupid, stupidity, unwise

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What a pathetic lack of ambition!
The Supreme Dear Leader and her courtiers have entire parks at their disposal. Mostly empty and useless patches of grass and mud with hardly any big beautiful towerblocks in sight.
And what do they do? They choose to hand over a piddling little 10% of one park.

Don't they do any research, these so-called Leaders? Everyone else knows that in modern times when you take Daisy the cow to market, you always meet some incredibly helpful, inordinately friendly people in expensive suits.
But this isn't a fairy story and there's no magic beans malarkey!

In the real world they fly you (and Daisy of course) off to Cannes and start fattening you up. Then back in London for posh nosh in private London clubs & exclusive restaurants.

These creatures are more usually known as vampire squids. They have feeding tubes.
http://www.businessinsider.com/matt-taibbis-vampire-squid-take-down...

Just a minor correction to one of your bullet points - the actual Youth Zone building is projected to be about 2500 square metres, not 5500 square metres as stated above. However, all Youth Zones, like schools, require a larger enclosed footprint to include an outdoor area/kickabout court, refuse area, storage shed, service yard etc, and so the fenced-in gifted land can be up to 6500 square metres. (For more info, see Friends of Chestnuts Park website, listed in Link 2 above). 

However, Haringey Friends of Parks Forum made the point that not a single additional square metre of inner city park land/public open green space should be fenced off from public access, given away, sold, or built upon or over. So whether it's building on 1, 2500 or 6500 square metres, and whether it's in Chestnuts Park or any other open space, it's simply not acceptable - and is contrary to the borough's own policies. These open spaces are the green lungs of our borough. 

And that's not even getting started on the actual LBH/Onside model itself - of giving prime inner city land - for free (well £1!) - to a private sector led non-local charity that hasn't even gone through a procurement process, plus a donation of £3m capital and the current total annual youth service revenue budget for 3 years, to deliver a facilities led model of youth work that hasn't been researched or commissioned here, to serve all young people mostly on one single site in the borough, to run as they see fit once they own the land and could possibly raise finance against that equity. And with an ambitious business plan that only lasts three years, after which other Youth Zones are already looking for commercial hires to break even in these vast sports centre sheds. And so no guarantee for the 125 years of their lease that they will continue to deliver youth work. And no examination of the knock-on effect on other local sports facilities of setting up an additional but youth-only sports centre, for example on the new GLA supported climbing wall in Tottenham Hale.

And a working party of councillors set up with only a two month timescale, not to examine the model in depth but only tweak it for local adjustments, (like Onside taking over the running of Bruce Grove youth centre and some outreach off site work), and choose a location. And the final actual land disposal, authorised at officer not political level, could just go ahead this July. ...

Well that's how it looks to this local St Ann's ward resident and Labour Party member, from information in the public domain.  I am very aware of current huge financial pressures, I have been a successful supporter and fundraiser for new facilities prioritising young people in Chestnuts Park and elsewhere over many years. But this was not a good Cabinet decision, even on financial grounds. The short term funding leverage promises do not merit a 125 lease land disposal in my view. Onside are under time pressure to go ahead quickly because of a time limited £1m Queens Trust grant promise they need as part of their £3m match contribution. But that shouldn't pressure LBH into making a foolish decision. It surely needs a delay and reconsideration.

Ceri Williams, Chair of Friends of Chestnuts Park (FOCP), but writing in a personal capacity. FOCP will consider and agree its collective response at our next full meeting on 6 May. 

Thanks for the correction Ceri. I'll leave my bullet point uncorrected above so that your post continues to make sense. If the building may be smaller, it seems the green space that could be alienated from the public could be even larger.

Agree with all you say. Unfortunately, some parks and green spaces are currently considered to be either liabilities not pulling their weight, or are under-used assets and greenfield sites for development (similarly, libraries are considered as buildings and property-assets, rather than as a home for a service for the community).

There is no need to impose this youth zone on Chestnuts Park and the whole half-baked notion ought to be dropped immediately, with the "Working Party" time spent on more useful things.

—CDC

Campaigning does work, so don't give up! Following our Friends of Chestnuts Park meeting with him on 2 April, Cllr Ayisi called on 5 April to let us know that Chestnuts Park and Community Centre have been removed from the list of location options to be given away, as have any other public green spaces! We have thanked him for his help. 

But questions remain about the whole deal. I've posted in a personal capacity about this on Harringay Online, listing 17 further questions for LBH  

One reason I get angry about the poor judgement of our Council's leaders is the sheer amount of time people in the community have to spend finding out and then preventing foolish things from happening.
It appears that this scheme has been under discussion for a few years. Taking who knows how much time and work. 
But who knew? And aren't there a wide range of people in Haringey who could and would have been able to offer some useful input? With a range of views. Some it's true may have been negative. But there's nothing wrong with the traditional "Devil's Advocate" role. 
Others would have taken more of a "critical friend" role. Another conventional and widely respected way of testing-out  and improving proposals being worked-up and in process.

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