View from the chamber: Community at the heart of our decisions
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 July 2018
I'm the new leader of Haringey Council.
I’ve shared the life experiences of many Haringey residents. I’ve worked for minimum wage stacking shelves in a supermarket and in frontline public services during nine years on London Underground. After graduating as a mature student, I worked as a manager in the private, public and voluntary sectors. When I married a Haringey girl (almost 20 years ago) we set up our first home in Tottenham. Family is very important to me and we’ve twice moved home across the borough to be closer to my elderly in-laws.
Haringey is a multi-faith, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural borough. This is a diversity of which we should be proud. As a Londoner born of Nigerian parents, I am part of that diversity and part of an extended African-Caribbean family with roots in Haringey going back over 50 years.
My children are educated in Haringey schools and I’ve been a governor at three local schools over the past 12 years so I understand the concerns and worries of parents - but I am also incredibly proud that every school in Haringey is now Ofsted rated as outstanding or good. Young people are our future and we want to invest more in youth, and engagement services, creating positive opportunities for young people. But we also know that it’s critical to work with young people, community stakeholders and the police to address any increase in gang, gun and knife violence.
I have been a councillor for 17 years, eight of them in Haringey. Experience tells me being in government is much harder than being in opposition. In opposition you can shout about how you don’t like this, or how the government must do that – without having to present a credible alternative position, or having any means to fund your proposals. As council leader, I don’t have either of these luxuries.
Decision making is always a delicate balancing act, taking on board the views of competing stakeholders, looking at the available resources, and putting forward proposals that are in the best interests of all Haringey residents. With central government continuing to cut the council’s budget, we’re trying to deliver more with less money, so we know there will be tough choices ahead. We are committed to meet that challenge head-on and accept that we will not please every resident every time. We’ll make our decisions based upon what’s best for Haringey as a whole.
We want to build homes for Haringey’s people and ensure our borough is a clean and pleasant environment to be in. We want to redesign the delivery of adult social care and retain all of our schools as being either outstanding or good. We want to support Haringey’s high streets, boost employment and increase opportunities for our local businesses.
Haringey is my home, our home. I’m proud of it and pledge to work for you, and with you, to make our home a better and fairer place.