Haringey council leader and MP at loggerheads

A WAR of words has broken out between the leader of Haringey council and government minister Lynne Featherstone over whether the Hornsey and Wood Green MP did enough to try to improve the borough’s financial settlement.

Council leader Claire Kober was incensed by an email from Ms Featherstone which seemed to imply that Haringey had left it too late to seek her help.

In her response by way of an open email, an angry Cllr Kober hit back by claiming she had “implored” Ms Featherstone to meet with her before Christmas, adding: “To insinuate that there has been a failure on the part of the council in raising these matters in good time is false, and one which you should withdraw immediately.”

She continued: “Rather than spending your time designing petitions and sending me emails which are a barely concealed attempt at back covering, I would ask you to invest your energy in working with us to protect our community from the worst excesses of the government’s drive to obliterate public provision.

“I am so angered by the response you have provided that I have decided to make this exchange public. Local people should be aware of the actions of their Member of Parliament and how on this occasion you put your interests as a government minister before the residents of Hornsey and Wood Green.”

In response, Ms Featherstone told the Ham&High she hoped Cllr Kober would listen to Liberal Democrat proposals for budget amendments to protect frontline services, adding: “When it comes to Cllr Kober’s letter, she should spend less time playing politics and more on finding ways to maintain services for Haringey’s residents.

“After the Spending Review, I knew Haringey would have to make tough decisions about the budget. In October, therefore, I met with Kevin Crompton (Haringey’s chief executive) and offered to speak to the government about Haringey’s grant settlement. My offer was ignored.

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“Not until January 28 did Cllr Kober ask for my help – as requested, I met with Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell, to present Haringey’s case.

“Cllr Kober has misread my response, and thought that I was referring to a failure on her part to make representation.

‘‘My response referred only to the fact that I might have been more successful had my offer to make representations been taken up earlier by Haringey Council.”