Haringey Council faces a new challenge over £2bn regeneration plan

Rev Paul Nicolson claims Haringey Council has acted unlawfully by not consulting residents over its

Rev Paul Nicolson claims Haringey Council has acted unlawfully by not consulting residents over its regeneration plans. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A plan to sell off millions of pounds worth of public assets has hit another hurdle.

On Tuesday Reverend Paul Nicolson accused Haringey Council of breaking the law by failing to consult residents on plans to join forces with private developer Lendlease to fund the borough’s regeneration, moving council land, homes and buildings into the Haringey Development Vehicle company (HDV).

In what could result in a legal challenge, founder of not-for-profit Taxpayers Against Poverty Rev Nicolson said: “The council should not engage in HDV spending without consulting people. They have ignored the law about consultation of all interested persons.”

Rev Nicolson – who took Haringey to court in 2016 over the setting of council tax fines – has written to the council’s external auditor BDO LLP asking them to look into the matter and examine the council’s accounts for 2016/17.

“This is a major issue of democratic accountability. The HDV effects the whole borough.

“I will do everything I can to improve the circumstances of the poorest people of Haringey,” 85-year-old Rev Nicolson said.

“It is the exceptional magnitude of the public assets involved which renders it appropriate for the council to consult all residents before authorising any expenditure. This is of national interest and importance,” the former councillor added.

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Under the rules the external auditor could apply to the High Court for a declaration that such spending is unlawful – with Haringey ending up in a legal battle over the HDV – or issue a report in the public interest.

This comes on top of a forthcoming judicial review on the controversial plan initiated by anti-HDV campaigners.

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “We are confident that we have followed the correct process in establishing this joint venture and appointing Lendlease as our partner. We have also received a letter from the district auditor that states he is content due process has been followed regarding the HDV.

“Haringey faces an acute housing crisis. Our residents desperately need more and better homes and jobs and the HDV will bring billions of pounds of investment to the borough to achieve that. This investment will improve the quality of social housing so people can enjoy better homes,” he added.