Writer backs hundreds of angry tenants protesting against HDV proposals
PUBLISHED: 15:19 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:33 19 January 2017
Former children's laureate and author Michael Rosen has condemned Haringey Council's plans to move thousands of council houses into a private company as "social and ethnic cleansing".
Concerned Labour councillors have called for the “unprecedented” and “risky” Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) plans to be halted - after hundreds of angry protestors lobbied for further consultation on Tuesday night.
Children’s novelist and political columnist Mr Rosen issued a statement of support, which said: “I urge anyone who can attend to please get out to this demo - we need to keep the pressure on. This is the social and ethnic cleansing of Tottenham. It must be stopped dead.”
The protest came as a report by the council’s Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel identified “very significant risks” within the proposals, which would see huge swathes of council land and property transferred to a private company. The report recommended that the plans are halted and further scrutiny work is undertaken.
Under the proposed HDV scheme, a new company would be set up owned 50/50 by the council and a private developer and £2bn worth of council land and buildings transferred.
Although Haringey is not the first council to set up a “development vehicle”, its proposals are unprecedented in size and scale and if the project failed it could potentially bankrupt the council.
The first council assets to be transferred into the HDV would be Northumberland Park estate in Tottenham, Wood Green Civic Centre, Wood Green Library, River Park House, and the former Cranwood care home in Muswell Hill.
But further sites identified for transfer at a later date include Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham and land at the rear of Muswell Hill Library.
Hundreds of angry tenants and campaigners gathered before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday calling for the plans to be scrapped entirely.
Paul Burnham, secretary of Haringey defend council housing, told the committee the plans “will force people out of this borough who have every right to live here”.
He called for a public ballot on the plans amid cheers from the packed public gallery.
“Why? Because it is our homes, our right to decide and our future,” said Mr Burnham.
Cllr Stuart McNamara (Labour) urged the scrutiny committee to “put the brakes on the HDV proposals” and to “allow much more detailed work to be done”.
The committee ratified the report and Haringey’s cabinet must now decide whether or not to adopt the recommendation to halt the HDV plans.
Cllr Claire Kober , Haringey council leader, has previously defended the plans as the best way to bring 5,000 new homes to the borough over the next 20 years.
She said: “All of this development will be on council-owned land - which without this private investment and expertise could never deliver the new homes and new jobs.”