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FURTHER to my post of the statement of Cllr. Brabazon, I have now obtained a copy of the statement of Cllr. Peray Ahmet, also issued to the Council Labour Group, in response to her sacking by Joseph Ejiofor, currently the leader of Haringey council:
From: Cllr Peray Ahmet
Sent: 02 January 2019 00:59
To: Labour Councillors
Subject: Cabinet position
Happy New Year to you all. As was stated in Joe’s email on Monday, I was recently asked to leave cabinet. The first I knew of this was yesterday morning. This was never raised in a one to one with me and I was not given any prior warning. Nor was I given a reason, except to say that it was important for ‘cabinet cohesion’.
Despite the battles to prevent polices that would have seen us veer away from our manifesto pledges, I have had a very enjoyable and challenging 6/7 months leading on Adult Social Care and Health. Driving through change in the agenda was my utmost priority, implementing the manifesto commitments and also going further where possible. We were on the brink of some pretty big things and I hope I have laid enough groundwork for my successor to pick up and drive through:
* Re-design group. The first meeting of the group took place last month. There are a number of councillors who sit on the group alongside relevant stakeholders and users (although we can strengthen this part). The resources were not enough to implement the project, so after some discussion with the CEO it was agreed that further support would be put in place to support the programme. The next meeting was due in January. There is a Terms of Reference in place and the role of the group was set up to include a look at social care as an ‘asset’ not a burden. Discussion of a trip to other councils was also in the plans.
* Osborne Grove. One of the first acts of the Cabinet was to keep the home open and commit to keeping it as a nursing home, keep it as a public sector run organisation and keep it open for the existing families. There has been some disagreement amongst us on this and Joe has been keen to close it. I argued successfully at the time to keep it open, as we are working on a feasibility study and the predicted ‘savings’ are unlikely to be realised. The solution has been to move the existing residents into one wing. The work on this has started and a series of meetings with the families are in place for January.
* Canning Crescent/Homelessness Hub: I worked closely with officers to ensure that we were in a position to purchase the Canning Crescent building from the Mental Health Trust. In contrast to what has happened previously, officers have been asked to look at purchasing buildings to bring them into use. Another vacant building is also being looked at. The Homelessness Hub is due to go live early this year.
* Haven and the Roundway: I publicly committed to bringing these centres back into use. The intention was to create a co-design group that will help us shape this. I have already spoken to the carer’s forum, the pensioner’s forum and the scrutiny panel re the work we intend to do on this, which involves bringing the placements back into the borough. This is an exciting piece of work which will go some way to restoring trust with the community.
* Understand Social Care event: I asked officers to organise an event back in October which is intended to act as a forum and to focus on themes within the ASC and health area. The intention was to hold 3 of these a year, with different themes, the summer one will have reported the outcomes of the work of the re-design group.
* Primary care: There is a distinct lack of primary care in Haringey. Three sites have been identified. I have already arranged a briefing on one primary care site and there are due to be briefings on each of the other two sites.
* Safeguarding training: I asked officers to arrange training which included safeguarding adults, children’s and housing. The last one was well received and I had asked for it to be repeated in order for more Cllrs to benefit.
* Transitions: I have been working closely with Elin on areas that crossover between the children’s and adult’s portfolios. There is lots of work being done on this area and a meeting planned with families who are due to transition.
* Remodelling of homecare: officers are working on this area in order to ensure that we are in a position to pay our homecare workers LLW by 2020. I have worked closely with the unions on this.
I believe strongly that we should be talking to the community at large, especially when it comes to social care and health. I have regular meetings with various community representatives, the trade unions and others and have made lots of effort to improve the standing of the council with these groups. I feel I was making some good headway.
And so, it is with some sadness that I am no longer able to continue with this work.
The only reason I can perhaps presume is that I have opposed Joe on a number of occasions within the cabinet. This has included his push for the closure of Osborne Grove and the push to find more cuts in Adults Social Care, including what we know as P201 (Top Up Policy) and P202 (Disability Disregard). As I expressed to group at the time, it felt as if Adult Social Care was the only policy area with no red lines and I attempted to have some money reinvested from Children’s into the ASC budget. I am concerned that some members are saying otherwise. I fought hard to get those cuts off the table and to ensure that Osborne Grove remains open to the families that are there. We committed to this in our manifesto and to have gone back on it would have been a travesty. I have also raised strong concerns re the Fortismere Capital programme.
I do believe that policy decisions should be robustly challenged and not just accepted. That makes for better decision making. Unfortunately, this appears to be have been portrayed as a ‘lack of cohesion’. I have served this borough in many different ways and roles and for many years and I will continue working hard for the ward I represent, because those are the people we are here for, not to engross ourselves in endless political battles, which mean nothing outside of the council chamber.
Cllr Peray Ahmet
Labour Member for Noel Park Ward
225 High Road, River Park House, N22 8HQ