'Allegations of Haringey Council’s ‘cover-up culture’ were revealed'

A police officer stands at the door of the Prime Minister's official residence in Downing Street, We

Parties have been held behind the famous black door - Credit: PA

Over the past weeks, the national news has been gripped by the farcical psychodrama of Boris Johnson’s various excuses for parties in Downing Street in 2021 and 2022. Allegations have been investigated by Sue Gray, and now the Metropolitan Police, yet the process looks more and more like a stitch-up, to avoid or to delay damaging evidence coming to light.

It is certainly not on the dramatic scale of Downing Street, but accusations of Haringey Council’s own, damaging "cover-up culture" were also revealed last week. An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), who look into complaints about councils, revealed that the council had wasted over £2 million of taxpayers money buying a house in Muswell Hill, and then failed to present documents when asked.

The council had wanted to redevelop the old Cranwood nursing home site, and decided they needed to purchase a nearby row of houses to include in the development. The council then rushed into the £2 million purchase of one of those houses, despite similar homes being valued at far lower prices, before u-turning on the decision to include the row of houses in the redevelopment plans, without proper processes in place.

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison wants Streateries in Haringey

Luke Cawley-Harrison says the administration at Haringey Council need to 'get a grip' - Credit: Archant

The independent LGO found that, following these revelations, the council had misled its own scrutiny committee, and failed to provide evidence around the £2 million purchase to the investigation, despite repeated requests.

What’s more, the council lobbied to have the then leader’s name deleted from the final report, and it is claimed that the new leader was not even told. That’s why Liberal Democrats have called for a full, independent investigation into both the waste of residents’ money, and the council’s obstruction of the truth. Clearly Haringey cannot be trusted to investigate itself.

This is becoming an all too story pattern in our local area, as last year the council was revealed to have paid more than double the market price for its own offices, after turning down the chance to buy the building at a far more reasonable price just months earlier.

There is now a pattern of a council which splashes around taxpayer’s money with reckless abandon, and refuses to submit to proper political oversight. This makes a mockery of local democracy, and should worry not only residents, but the administration itself, who must get a grip on what is happening on their watch.

Luke Cawley-Harrison is leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats and councillor for Crouch End.