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£12m plans for Haringey civic centre are scrapped

PUBLISHED: 16:18 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 07 September 2010

HARINGEY Council has shelved its ambitious £12 million plan to move the borough s civic and ceremonial headquarters - because of the Icelandic banks fiasco. George Meehan, Leader of Haringey Council, announced the dramatic U-turn in the same week it emerged that

HARINGEY Council has shelved its ambitious £12m plan to move the borough's civic and ceremonial headquarters - because of the Icelandic banks fiasco.

George Meehan, Leader of Haringey Council, announced the dramatic u-turn in the same week it emerged that the town hall has invested £37 m in three failed Icelandic banks.

But the council also said that it has already spent £300,000 on consultancy fees for the development - which would have seen the borough's civic and ceremonial headquarters returned to their original home in Woodside House - in Wood Green High Road. The move was meant to be paid for by selling off the current civic centre in Wood Green.

Labour Cllr Meehan said: "With the current financial situation now having a real impact on local councils, it's right that we review our programmes to make sure that everything is fully focused at this time on essential services for our residents.

"Our top priority is to protect and maintain services for local people."

"That is why we are taking a responsible approach, and reviewing our forward planning and commitments in the light of changing circumstances.

"Local people would never expect us to pay out public money for under-used and expensive buildings, when we could be making better use of them. That is why our policy of saving money by rationalising our use of buildings remains the correct approach in the medium term and long term."

The Liberal Democrats have now called for the development to be scrapped altogether, rather than just delayed.

Lib Dem Leader Cllr Robert Gorrie said: "This was always a £12m project that would be under-used, expensive and a waste of taxpayers' money. It is a shame that it has taken an economic crisis that was already clearly visible in July for Labour to realise its folly.

"What is needed now is the Council to recognise that this project needs to be scrapped rather than put on hold.

"It is welcome that Labour has come to its senses but this is a small number next to the £37 million at risk in the Icelandic banks. Hopefully it is not the start of a long list of spending cuts."

Lynne Featherstone MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, added: "This will come as a huge relief to the organisations that were being evicted from Woodside House. It is disappointing that it takes a global financial crisis for Labour to listen to what we have been telling them for some time - now is not the time to sell off property and embark on major building projects.

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