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Haringey Council’s multi-million pound assets sell off hits a hurdle

PUBLISHED: 10:43 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:48 14 July 2017

Protesters massed outside Haringey Civic Centre earlier this month as councillors pushed through the sale of public assets now formally opposed by a group of Liberal Democrat oppostition councillors. Picture: JON KING

Protesters massed outside Haringey Civic Centre earlier this month as councillors pushed through the sale of public assets now formally opposed by a group of Liberal Democrat oppostition councillors. Picture: JON KING

Archant

Opponents of the biggest sell-off of public assets in the country have forced Haringey Council to review a decision to push through the controversial scheme.

Calling in the decision made at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on July 4, Liberal Democrat councillors voiced 16 concerns about the transfer of assets to new part-privatised company – the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).

Concerns include a claim the council is failing to protect the council tenants and leaseholders of the homes and businesses slated for demolition under the multi-million pound redevelopment plans.

The challengers say council tenants won’t be able to afford “even close to 100 per cent of a new home on redeveloped estates” questioning the record on affordable housing, union blacklisting and over-charging of the council’s business partner, developer Lendlease.

They also cite uncertainties over Brexit as a reason to reconsider.

Haringey Lib Dem Cllr Liz Morris said: “We have forced this review because we have grave concerns about the Labour-run council’s plans to put £2bn of public property into a company with a developer.

“The HDV needs to be stopped. Even Labour’s own MPs are calling for a rethink.

“The Lib Dems believe this decision, which will be the biggest decision ever made by the council, should be taken by all councillors at a full council meeting and not by a small group of Labour councillors at a Cabinet meeting. Anything else is undemocratic.

“We will keep fighting to try and make the Labour councillors see sense and stop these terrible plans,” she added.

After the Lib Dem challenge, signed by Cllr Morris, Cllrs Bob Hare, Clive Carter, Martin Mewton and Gail Engert, the council is faced with three options - do nothing, ask Cabinet to reconsider or send the decision to a meeting of the full council.

In response to the move, Cllr Alan Strickland said: “We believe this new partnership is the right way to deliver some of the thousands of jobs and homes Haringey needs.

“With too much economic uncertainty facing the country today, we’re more determined than ever to secure the stability, expertise and investment needed to bring the right regeneration on behalf of everyone who lives and works in Haringey.”

He went on to add: “With more than 3,000 people living in temporary accommodation, we won’t stand by and watch while the housing crisis gets worse and worse.

“The Cabinet decision to proceed with the joint company has been made in accordance with the relevant local government legislation as reflected in the council’s Constitution. The establishment of the joint venture is an executive decision and therefore must be taken by the Cabinet, not the full council.

“We are on the record as saying all tenants and leaseholders will have a guaranteed right of return and that 40pc of all housing built will be affordable, based on income not rent levels or sale prices, in line with our housing strategy and planning policy,” he said.

Lendlease have been approached for comment.

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