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THE fourth of five election-2018 pledges by Haringey Labour is to “establish a Fairness Commission”

  • “a borough-wide conversation that will empower Haringey's residents
    communities and help them inform council decision-making.

These are warm words. Fairness is a good thing. We all approve of fair play and fair dealings and we all like fairness. But establishing a Commission? Can fairness be institutionalised? What can this mean?

Borough-wide conversation sounds so vague as to be devoid of meaning.

Empowerment also seems pretty vague. The Commission that Labour has pledged to set up could end up achieving nothing.

That could be quite easy to achieve, as the goal seem so ill-defined. However, one thing seems likely: the extra bureaucracy could end up costing us (and more pressing needs) a lot of money to administer. These are scarce resources that our Borough can ill-afford, especially over the next four years. Four years ago, Croydon Council set up a Commission with this title (link) and,

  • An indicative budget of £200,000 is needed to set up Fairness Commission
    and deliver its work programme.

The omens aren't terribly good.

Four years ago, in their 2014 Manifesto, Haringey Labour pledged to create a Lettings Agency ("Move51°North). It folded after letting 2 (two) properties and burning through £460,000, money that we could ill-afford. At least the goal of the Lettings Agency was reasonably well-defined, if misconceived and misguided. A Fairness Commission could mean almost anything.

However, perhaps the biggest question mark alongside The Fairness Commission is, why should such a thing be needed at all?

A responsible council should converse with public as a matter of course, rather than the megaphone-PR style of the bloated municipal Press Office.

A council-run Fairness Commission—with attendant bureaucracy—cannot substitute for an intrinsically well-run council that naturally involves the public in decision-making and one that conducts Public Consultations that are sincere and meaningful.

That Haringey residents might need increased power ("empowerment") vis a vis the Council and help inform council decision making has, in part, to be an indictment of how the Council has been run, under the same Party, for the most part of half-a-century.

I am a Liberal Democrat Councillor
for Highgate Ward

Tags: Establish a Fairness Commission, Fairness Commission, Labour, election pledge, pledge

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Replies to This Discussion

You didn't quote the other bit about the Fairness Commission, it's -

"a detailed investigation that will find out what residents, community groups and businesses think we should do to make Haringey a better and a more equal borough."

I fear they'll conclude, as they always have, that the reason Tottenham is so poor is somehow the fault of Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate.

What will the result be? I suspect they'll increase the Community Infrastructure Levy for the west (it gets spent it in the east), and I fear the result of the following -

"we want to review current council tax arrangements. Council tax currently leads to poorer residents paying disproportionately more than richer residents relative to both income and house value. We will make the distribution of tax and charges fairer"

I quoted everything about the "Fairness Commission" that appeared on their "5 pledges for Stroud Green" (that I understand are Borough-wide pledges). Where did your other bit come from?!

There are already big differences in the CIL charging schedule between the west, central and eastern parts of the Borough. Residential or Student Accommodation is charged—per square metre—at 17 times in the west as in the east.

Freezing Council Tax was Labour's #1 Pledge in their 2014 Manifesto. Rightly or wrongly, there appears to be no pledge about Council Tax levels in 2018. 

- The quote is from the Labour Party manifesto (p3).

- I realise that CIL already has bands. They have the power to increase them.

- The Council Tax proposals are opaque. But clearly if they mean to extend exemptions, then that means an increase for everyone else ('for the few not the many', as the slogan doesn't go), otherwise they lose income. I don't have broad shoulders.

Whether they'll go for a Council tax referendum I dunno, but in the black and white world of Haringey I can unfortunately imagine a campaign based on "do you think rich people in their big houses in the west should pay more tax?"

I realise the Labour manifesto (link here) is the only one that counts (although what's not in it usually turns out to be more important than what's in it) - but perhaps we should critique the Lib Dem manifesto (link here) next? Or even the Tory one, should it exist?

I believe that Haringey's responsibility and only power in respect of Council Tax is to set Band D. The other bands are then based on a predetermined formula. Dwellings have Bands allocated by the Valuation Office. Possibly the "council tax arrangements" to which they refer are a series of rebates or exceptions based on a means test for council tax payers. Such a proceeding sounds expensive and cumbersome. And the results would probably fall on my once broad, but increasingly aged and stooped, shoulders.


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