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Council chief battles HDV housing scheme critics amid Haringey Labour Party ‘infighting’

PUBLISHED: 17:36 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:04 06 December 2017

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober called for party principles to be 'left at the door' to solve the borough's housing crisis during last night's full council meeting at the Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: JON KING

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober called for party principles to be 'left at the door' to solve the borough's housing crisis during last night's full council meeting at the Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: JON KING

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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’.

Members of the public gathered outside the Civic Centre on Monday night. In the meeting shouts of 'Who's sorry now?' could be heard from the gallery directed at Labour councillors who either withdrew or were deselected by party members from standing as candidates in May's local elections. Picture: JON KINGMembers of the public gathered outside the Civic Centre on Monday night. In the meeting shouts of 'Who's sorry now?' could be heard from the gallery directed at Labour councillors who either withdrew or were deselected by party members from standing as candidates in May's local elections. Picture: JON KING

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Of 28 HDV supporting Labour councillors 22 have been deselected or withdrawn with six reselected.

Labour and Lib Dem councillors debated the housing crisis during the meeting with the council's scheme to join forces with private developer Lendlease and rebuild council owned homes and business premises dividing opinion. Picture: JON KINGLabour and Lib Dem councillors debated the housing crisis during the meeting with the council's scheme to join forces with private developer Lendlease and rebuild council owned homes and business premises dividing opinion. Picture: JON KING

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.

Cllr Kober urged councillors of all stripes: Cllr Kober urged councillors of all stripes: "Leave ideological baggage at the door and do the right thing. Picture: TONY GAY

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.”

Highgate Cllrs Clive Carter and Bob Hare after Haringey Council chiefs met at the Civic Centre in July to decide on the HDV plans following a Lib Dem challenge which temporarily halted its progress. Picture: HARINGEY LIBERAL-DEMOCRATSHighgate Cllrs Clive Carter and Bob Hare after Haringey Council chiefs met at the Civic Centre in July to decide on the HDV plans following a Lib Dem challenge which temporarily halted its progress. Picture: HARINGEY LIBERAL-DEMOCRATS

The council’s housing strategy says it needs to build 11,757 affordable homes between 2011 and 2026.

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