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Opinion: Injustices and inequailities to be fought

PUBLISHED: 11:00 19 December 2019

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor thanks all campaigners to their commitment. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor thanks all campaigners to their commitment. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

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“Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil!” The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Whilst the red wall crumbled in the north and midlands, London's parliamentary landscape remained surprisingly unchanged, with only one seat changing hands north of the river.

Haringey has once again returned two Labour MPs, Catherine West and David Lammy, who I expect to continue to diligently represent us in parliament, and I'd like to thank all of the candidates and activists from all of the parties for their commitment to the political process over the past few weeks.

As we now assess the fallout from the general election results that delivered both substantial change across the country and a Tory government strong and stable enough to last the full five years, we have to consider the implications for Haringey and the diverse ethnic and social communities that live here.

Brexit is definitely happening, and indeed, a hard Brexit cannot be ruled out, and PM Johnson's government has already signalled a transfer of funding away from London to the north, and the de-prioritisation of certain infrastructure projects. Labour's response to this substantial defeat has been to question whether electors did not buy in to the Corbyn project itself, or the messengers espousing it.

More than ever it will fall to councils to unite our communities and provide the last line of defence to those in need. We must never lose sight of why we exist - to serve our residents, our communities and the businesses in our borough. We are so proud of Haringey and we know our residents are too. But all around us, there remain injustices and inequalities to be fought.

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Haringey, just like most councils across the country, has seen huge cuts in funding since 2010. Government grant funding has reduced by £124 million, a cut of 62 per cent, whilst our population and their needs continue to grow.

We have had to plan our 2020/21 budget in the context of severe ongoing budget pressures, as a result of 10 years of austerity.

Nevertheless, Haringey Council remains committed to make our borough greener, cleaner and fairer. We are fighting housing injustice by improving the quality of private rented housing, intervening proactively, introducing selective licensing, and moving forward our plans to deliver 1,000 additional council homes; we are paying all council contracted care staff, the London Living Wage meaning decent pay for our hard-working carers; we continue to provide up to 100pc discount for our least well off residents; Investing in our libraries, and our high streets; Investing £50 million in our school buildings over the next five years, to ensure every child and young person is educated in a modern building in a safe environment.

Furthermore, while government dithers, we are taking real action on climate change, launching an ambitious tree-planting programme to bring the tree canopy to at least 20pc across the borough, meaning we'll plant at least an additional 750 trees in the next two years. We will also invest £3.2 million in School Streets, to create safer, less polluted environments around our schools.

Haringey Council is consulting upon our proposed budget right now [haringey.gov.uk/budget]. We are less than a week away from Christmas, when we traditionally spend time with family, friends and loved ones.

However, it is also important to remember those for whom this is a difficult period of the year. Wintertime is particularly tough for those who are homeless or sleeping rough. I'm proud that our rough sleeping team has done some outstanding work throughout the year to reach out to rough sleepers and help them provide essential services, such as at our Mulbery Junction initiative.

It just remains for me to wish Ham&High readers and residents all the best greetings of the season, a merry Christmas, and best wishes for a happy new year.

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