'Vanity project': Haringey Council's opposition criticises £24m Civic Centre works
- Credit: Ken Mears
Haringey Council’s £24 million restoration and redevelopment of its Civic Centre has been labelled a “vanity project” by the opposition.
The Town Hall’s Grade II listed base in Wood Green, currently closed on safety grounds, will see £12m spent on maintenance and repair works, and an additional £12m on new offices and space for the community.
The plans form part of the Labour-run council’s budget for 2021/22, which are subject to a vote by the full council on March 1.
Haringey Council’s leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor said the “significant” costs will secure the safety of the building and create a “dynamic civic hub” that will benefit the community.
But Haringey Liberal Democrats challenged the use of public funds and the timing of the move during the pandemic.
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The party’s finance spokesperson, Cllr Paul Dennison, said: “At a time when Haringey’s businesses and cultural sector are on their knees, and there is no certainty about the balance between office and remote working, the Labour Council spending £12 million of taxpayers’ money on new buildings for itself is a vanity project, pure and simple. We should be funding the community, not the council.”
Haringey Liberal Democrats will propose an amendment to the council’s budget for a new “community and cultural transformation fund” on March 1 centred around the borough’s town centres post-Covid.
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Cllr Dennison added: “It is more important than ever to invest, not just on recovery, but on making our high streets fit for the needs of a community spending more and more time in their local area. This would be the priority of any responsible administration.”
Cllr Ejiofor, however, said the proposals were “in the best interests of all residents”.
“The council’s commitment to renovate is not a simple choice between works that need to be carried out on the Civic Centre building and our social and economic response to the Covid crisis,” the council leader said.
“The Civic Centre had to be closed for health and safety reasons because it became clear that there were urgent maintenance issues in this Grade II-listed building and £12 million is the cost of merely fixing the problems that have been identified.
“This significant expenditure would still leave the building outdated. The additional investment into the Civic Centre will create a dynamic civic hub that we can be proud of as well as creating community spaces that benefit residents across the borough."