Haringey Council leader fights off call for her resignation

Councillor Claire Kober Leader of Haringey Council has seen off a no confidence vote. Picture: POLLY

Councillor Claire Kober Leader of Haringey Council has seen off a no confidence vote. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

Haringey council’s Labour leader has fought off a motion of no confidence from within her party calling for her resignation.

The motion against Councillor Claire Kober – tabled at a Labour group meeting last Thursday night – stated there is “a clear crisis in confidence” in the council administration and Labour group shown “by our dire relations” with the party, people and MPs Catherine West and David Lammy.

It cited a letter signed by both MPs “speaking on behalf of 81,000 Labour voters” calling on Cllr Kober to pause plans to regenerate the borough by transferring public assets to a joint company with private developer Lendlease, the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).

The motion also mentioned a second letter from Tottenham MP David Lammy attacking the council leadership as being “out of touch” and “high-handed”.

It also states opposition to the HDV is unified in the party locally and nationally, adding “[o]nly Haringey Labour is split on the issue”.

The motion reads: “In the light of this clear crisis in confidence in this administration, this Labour group must now make a clear statement on whether they retain confidence in the leader’s ability to unite the party, build consensus within Labour group and connect with the community.

“Whilst having regard for the leader’s past service and achievements, this Labour group has no such confidence and calls on the leader to resign.”

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Describing the current feeling among Labour councillors, a source close to the party said: “Everybody is up for reselection at the moment. The whip is being cracked exceedingly tightly. A number of colleagues are concerned that if they step out of line at all they will be prevented from standing.

“Everybody is walking on eggshells. There’s a lot of unhappiness about the HDV. They are unhappy with the number of promises made to Labour councillors, promises of no substance.”

The source claimed: “If there was a situation where national government changed and enabled councils to build, Labour councillors were told the council would be able to get out of the HDV, but the reality is we can’t get out without paying a 10 per cent premium.

“The longer we are in the HDV the harder it will be to get out of it.”

They went on to express concerns that tenants returning to redeveloped estates would not get the same security of tenure as before and suggested plans to set up dummy companies to buy up land – so people are prevented from inflating prices by not knowing the HDV is the bidder – is “not the sort of thing a council should be doing.”

A total of 15 councillors voted to remove Cllr Kober with the remainder, 29, choosing to continue their support.

The source claimed there is now a witch-hunt underway to identify those who voted against her.

In response Cllr Claire Kober said: “I have never taken for granted the privilege of leading this borough. But neither will I shy away from the difficult challenges that face our residents and communities.

“I am pleased to maintain the clear support of the Labour group. The vote of confidence I received from my colleagues is not only humbling but a recognition of our collective determination to get on and deliver.”