Council chief battles HDV housing scheme critics amid Haringey Labour Party ‘infighting’
PUBLISHED: 17:36 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:04 06 December 2017
A council chief urged critics to leave principles ‘at the door’ in the first full meeting of councillors since her leadership was rocked by party ‘infighting’.
Cllr Kober made the call to abandon ‘ideological baggage’ to solve the housing crisis after a raft of Labour councillors pulled out of selection races ahead of May 2018 local elections.
Some Labour councillors have slammed the selection process saying it has split the party due to Momentum activists campaigning against Haringey’s £2 billion housing plan, the HDV – Haringey Development Vehicle.
But anti-HDV campaigners and members of Jeremy Corbyn’s grassroots network argue Labour Party members were exercising their democratic right in response to a plan to bulldoze social homes and ‘cleanse’ neighbourhoods.
Of 28 HDV supporting Labour councillors 22 have been deselected or withdrawn with six reselected.
In Monday’s Civic Centre debate on the homes crisis Cllr Kober said: “The answer is to build more using council land. We have to come out of our comfort zone. That means exploring options like the HDV. There are no easy answers, but I would ask people to think about solutions, leave ideological baggage at the door and do the right thing.”
She attacked Lib Dem opposition councillors for only raising one concern about right to buy under the HDV when the plan was put forward in 2015.
In reply Lib Dem Cllr Gail Engert said not enough detail was known about the HDV at the time.
On the transfer of council homes and business premises to the joint venture, Highgate’s Lib Dem Cllr Bob Hare said the council should not be selling off its best assets.
He attacked the HDV saying the scheme – which sees Haringey team up with developer Lendlease to carry out borough wide contracts – aims at increasing council tax receipts.
He said: “What does that amount to other than social cleansing? This council proposes to put all its eggs in one basket. I predict we will be walked over [by Lendlease]. Giving so much away results in a lack of control.”
Fellow Lib Dem Cllr Gail Engert outlined the party’s opposition: “The HDV will not deliver the social housing this borough desperately needs. It relies on a developer with a poor record on social housing.”
Cllr Engert ended the debate with her own jibe about Labour councillors missing from the meeting. “It’s a shame so many are missing. Probably they are too exhausted by the infighting.”
The council’s housing strategy says it needs to build 11,757 affordable homes between 2011 and 2026.