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The people's parks have green flags high Oops. Two of them no longer fly. . . . .

 . . . . or so we thought, based on the unhelpful and misleading information doled out in tiny gobbets by the London Borough of Mislead, Divert and Conceal. In fact, if Bob Hare has got it right, there are barely more than two that have kept their green flags. Thank goodness they've got all that money coming in from drug dealing conventions, and Christmas tree sales.

This is the text of Bob's email:

Dear Adrian,

As you may already be aware, Haringey have recently had their parks inspected by Keep Britain Tidy, the organisation that awards ‘Green Flag’ status.

We initially discovered that two of our parks, Downhills Park and Finsbury Park had been rated "Red", meaning they no longer deserved their Green Flag Status. The Council said nothing about any other parks failing.

So we were shocked to learn recently that seven parks in Haringey have failed recent mystery shop inspections by Keep Britain Tidy. A further 10 have been given an "Amber" rating (some concerns) with just three retaining their Green Flag status.

Worse still, Haringey Council is trying to conceal the results. It is still trying to keep these five "red" reports secret.

They have rejected Freedom of Information requests, and have refusedrepeated requests by a number of Lib Dem Councillors, to see the reports. In fact details of the inspection results have only been revealed because somebody leaked the results. Even now it appears Haringey Council are still flying the Green Flag over parks that Keep Britain Tidy have said do not deserve it.

The parks rated red were:
  • Albert Recreation Ground
  • Bruce Castle Park
  • Downhills Park
  • Finsbury Park
  • Markfield Park
  • Priory Park
  • Woodside Park
The report on Finsbury Park - one of just two red reports made public - said that there were problems with graffiti, rats and unsafe play equipment. Whilst the report on Downhills Park concluded:

“It was disappointing to see the flag flying over a site with such poor condition. The park had an abandoned feel, with poor maintenance throughout the site. There are major health and safety issues on site which require immediate attention.”

Earlier this year, Haringey Labour ran under a manifesto commitment to retain all 25 Green Flag awards on its parks, and it is disappointing to see that just six months later, they have already lost 17, with 5 still to report.

Under questioning on the issue from a Lib Dem Councillor at a recent Full..., Labour Councillor, and Leader of the Council, Joe Ejiofor simply responded that "by the time we get to the end of this administration we will have 25 Green Flag parks". We strongly disagree with the implication that the state of our parks only matters when there is an election on, and are disappointed that this manifesto promise has already been broken.

Haringey is blessed to have so many parks and open spaces, and it is imperative that they are kept in a safe and pleasant condition at all times, so that people want to use them.

When the Council learns about a problem, its focus should be on trying to solve it, not keeping information about it from the public. This failure to be transparent leads to nothing but anger and disillusionment with the council from the residents of Haringey.
We will continue to press the council on this matter until all the reports are released and action has been taken to remedy the very serious concerns raised by Keep Britain Tidy.

Best wishes,

Cllr Bob Hare
Spokesperson for Parks | Haringey Liberal Democrats
bob.hare@haringeylibdems.org

Here is a little publicity video that  Cllr Ejiofor did not make a little while ago.

Tags: green flag

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Thanks Bob for continuing to press on this issue.

After sixteen years on the Council (as a Labour Party member until 2014) I eventually became increasingly disappointed, and then angry at the way so many "back bench" councillors were treated with such contempt.

Many of us hoped that once the previous regime ended, its "Command and Control" style of leadership would also be abandoned.  Would be junked along with its self-deluding PR machine.

We hoped for a fresh start with transparency and - as far as possible - prompt and accurate public information, among the defining characteristics of the new Council.

Frankly we now appear to see the opposite. There's rolling-over for developers once again. Rolling-over as well to Tottenham Hotspur Club and its demands to dominate North East Tottenham. There's the secrecy surrounding the proposed £35.9 million land deal with Fortismere Foundation School.

The way that the red and amber flag park reports have been kept under wraps is symptomatic of other problems we saw under the old regime. (For example Hornsey Town Hall.)

The continuing secrecy with the red and amber flag parks was completely unnecessary. The reports should have been announced speedily. It could have been a time for action and openness. Instead it has turned into a pantomime slapstick farce.
"There are broken swings behind you."
"Oh no there aren't."

In my personal view, at the heart of this problem is a rotten system. Few people wanted an elected mayor. But now we have a leader/cabinet system where one person has most of the powers of a mayor. With all its serious flaws. Like the stink of patronage, and lack of accountability. In my view we don't need Mayors, or tinpot Dear Leaders, or even clueless grand Emperors giving trite and vapid Christmas messages.

We need a co-operative culture where teams of elected people and council staff are rolling up their sleeves and working together with residents to discuss and tackle the serious problems we face.

SINCE May, the judgement of the current Council Leader (Cllr Ejifor) has been found wanting in issues as varied as cabinet selection to the £35,900,000 secret plans involving Fortismere School.

However his questionable judgement has been nowhere more on public display than over his (mis-) handling of the adverse parks Reports, by Keep Britain Tidy. The reason is simply that—unlike many other issues—parks are out in the open and able to be seen by the public who use them, any day of the week. And the problems within.

Cllr. Ejiofor cannot hide these problems—currently being documented by independent activist Martin Ball. But he can hide the Reports listing parks problems. Makes sense?!

When challenged by Cllr Luke Harrison in a Full Council meeting (webcast, link above) as to why the Reports weren't being made public, Cllr Ejiofor did not answer directly. In effect, he said that his promise to retain (not maintain) 25 Green Flag parks would be made good by the time of the next election. It wasn't persuasive.

Instead of making all the Green Flag Reports available straight away, efforts—rushed and half-baked—are being made to correct some of the faults identified by Keep Britain Tidy in the hope of avoiding any more embarrassing flag lowerings.

Cllr Ejiofor needs to make all the Reports available without further foot-dragging.

The reply from Joe Ejiofor to Luke Harrison at the last Council meeting was petty and insulting. It continued the childish yah-boo playground games, indulged in for many years by both parties. (At the public expense.)

Silly posturing demeans political debate.

Plainly, for people who view Council meetings - from the balcony or online - the park flags fiasco was a public display of Ejiofor's misjudgement. The problem is that the other far larger examples are less visible. Meetings are not minuted. Proposals like the Fortismere £35.9 million land deal were presented to the "cabinet" without any background papers attached. At a recent planning decision the developers Argent got almost a blank cheque to build what they wanted in Tottenham Hale. Much of it on Council land but with a low number of homes genuinely affordable by local people in desperate need. Hopefully the Mayor Sadiq Khan will call-it in. But if he does, no thanks will be due to Ejiofor.

Kober left the stage. We have a Kober understudy fumbling through much the same role.

The common factor is the questionable judgement of the current leader.

Cllr Ejiofor has made good progress in reversing some of the worst decisions of the previous leader, most notably the HDV that lost roughly £3m.

It was much too late for the new leader to do anything about the lettings agency (Move 51°North lost some £460k) or ChickenTown (flash fried c. £340k), although there is no record of him opposing those follies at the time.

Unfortunately, Cllr. Ejiofor is also making progress in generating all-new mistakes of his own, that a subsequent Leader or Administration will in due course have to undo, costing more money. We have no idea what risks the £35.9 land deal may entail. Does anyone?

The council might perform better for residents if it simply stopped wasting money and proceeded more cautiously. They spend cash as though it were Other People's Money.

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