Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The residents of this Borough have been paying dearly for the Council’s decisions to pour £300,000 into aid for a failed chicken restaurant, £70,000 for a new Council logo, £406,000 for a failed lettings agency and heaven knows how much in consultancy fees for the (apparently) now-to-be-abandoned HDV.


We will pay even more dearly if £33 million is shelled out for a new Council headquarters.


What we see is:

  • Lamentable failure by the council to repair its own properties. One flat on Harringay Passage, for example, has had a broken water pipe since last September. It makes a sound as if someone has just flushed the toilet next to a megaphone.
  • Failure to enforce the law against private landlords. I’ve been inside properties where the conditions are often unhealthy and sometimes disgusting.
  • Cuts to the care of persons with dementia – the closing of The Grange leaving no specialist care in the East of the Borough.
  • Closure of the Osborne Grove nursing home.
  • Starving youth centres, like Bruce Grove, of funding while committing 42% of the “Early Help” budget to a planned single centre. How sensible is that when so many are sensibly frightened to travel through certain post codes?

And I haven’t even mentioned potholes.


There have been some successful pilot projects, but we have no idea as to whether they are being followed up.

  • One small change in the letter to Council Tax defaulters brought in £100,000 more than came in from a control group which received the older-style letter. If rolled out, that could have brought in a further £300,000. Has anything been done about that?
  • The Time to Talk programme at the Park View School providing mentoring and other services, has been highly commended. What’s to happen to that?


The Labour Party’s manifesto makes depressing reading.

  • It promises 1,000 new council homes. Can you believe them? They’ve delivered only a fraction of the 250 they promised last time. And they had to hand to the government £29 million from council homes sales because they failed to use them on new council homes.
  • They use affordable housing statistics misleadingly. In fact, developers have been required by the planning service and committee to make only 32 % of their conventional housing “affordable housing” and “affordable” has been defined as 80% of market rents, which prices out nurses and teachers.
  • It’s full of vague phrases like “we will review” (adult social care), “our preference is” (a fully council owned housing company) “press,” (developers to make housing available to Haringey residents) “develop a strategy” (to combat youth and gang violence). That’s the language of opposition. From a party that has governed for 46 years, it’s nothing short of pathetic.
  • It doesn’t even mention dementia.
  • It talks vaguely of establishing a “Fairness Commission” to sound out local people, but it says little about what it will do and nothing about how they’ll pay for it – a relevant question when, despite their best intentions, they were unable to save the Haringey Race and Equality Council on which I served with various Labour Councillors.
  • They make funding proposals that they have no legal power to implement. If they want to raise the tax by more than 3 % (excluding the additional 3% social care precept) they can’t do it without a referendum. They promise to make the distribution of taxes fairer, but they don’t mention that a council can only set Band D. All of the other bands are set automatically by a formula which is set by central government. But then that’s only been the law since 1992.


We are a great deal clearer and far more practical in what we propose. Full details are in our manifesto which you can see on www.haringeylibdems.org


As a sample, here are some points:


  • We will establish a 100 per cent council-owned housing company and we will invest in it an initial £148 million. £62 million will come from money given by the GLA for the local housing zone to build new homes. £30 million will come from headroom in the council’s housing revenue account. The council has £22.8 million in right-to-buy receipts which it hasn’t yet forfeited. The remainder will come from scrapping the council’s plans to spend £33 million on new council offices.
  • While Labour doesn’t mention that wonderful organisation StArt by name, we do, and we will do whatever we can to support it. StArt, which is working for truly affordable housing and other amenities on the St. Ann’s hospital site, has finally persuaded public bodies that publicly owned land is not a commodity, that it has to be developed to benefit the community and that affordable housing shouldn’t price out nurses and teachers.
  • We will employ 2 Admiral Nurses for demetia patients and we will open a hub for them to work in the East of the Borough in collaboration with the Haynes centre in the West. Not only is this more humane; it will save money on the “care packages” which are required to fund patients’ care. We will reopen Osborne Grove.
  • We will ensure that there are two members of staff in every school who are qualified in mental health first-aid.
  • And we will press for more mental health beds on the St. Ann’s site. And the reason why “we will press” is not an empty phrase from us is that our health spokesperson is Cllr Pippa Connor, who worked as a specialist cancer nurse for many years and whose considerably powers of advocacy will ensure that the case is made powerfully.
  • We will slash the communications and PR budget. We all also reduce the number of senior staff and share a chief executive with a neighbouring borough. And we will scrap the building of new council offices and save the £33 million.


There are many other reasons to vote for us, but perhaps the strongest is that local Lib Dem Councillors always strive to make the Council a means for solving problems instead of being a problem itself. Harringayonline has plenty of comments on how Karen and I were helpful in the past. Matt Cuthbert will be a very effective member of our team.


Labour has run out of ideas. We’re brimming with them. Please let us get to work.


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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Alan,

I agree with every word.



In fairness to the Administration a resident has shown me a recent Council Tax demand which does contain the extra sentence referred to above, so it does now appear that the Council has followed up on the pilot.

My apologies, Michael, for my delay with this further reply.

I'd like first to say that I'm grateful to you for kicking the tyres of what we're proposing. It promotes rigourous thinking, and heaven knows we need more of that on the Council.

If I may attempt to answer your further points.

1. The trend towards sharing is now progressing beyond back-office functions like IT (now shared with Camden and Islington). Thus, it is also to be found in the Health and Well-being Board (shared with Islington) and the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny (now shared between five boroughs). The fact that health is a subject which is politically charged does not appear to have interfered with satisfactory way in which these efforts are proceeding. Shared fostering is now under consideration as well.

2. It occurs to me that the best time to make an agreement would be a time when the authorities in question are under different political control. As I mentioned before, the LGA report strongly recommends that any agreement for the sharing of a chief executive ought to include clearly defined "red lines". Where the political groups are at arms' length, this would be done with considerable care.

3. I take the point that a situation may arise where the interests of the two authorities may conflict and that a shared chief executive may be caught in the middle. In the general way of things, however, officials do encounter conflicts of loyalties or interests from time to time, and when that happens they recuse themselves from the matter which givers rise to the conflict. A shared chief executive could therefore abstain from involvement and leave it to the respective deputy chief executives of the two authorities to negotiate or argue their respective interests. In any event, a situation such as this would only arise infrequently and the possibility ought not to dissuade us attempting to make the very considerable savings which could be achieved.

4. Unfortunately, because of the pressure of time I've only been able to glance at the Oxford study for which you've kindly provided a link. What I have noticed, however, is that so far as I can tell, it deals with shared services rather than with the sharing of a chief executive.

To conclude, neither I nor anyone else can guarantee that this approach will work. But we do think that there are grounds for believing that it can work, and that in a climate where saving matters enormously, it is necessary to try new approaches which promise such savings. The experience of small authorities can be regarded as successful pilot projects which ought now to inspire the larger boroughs.

Many thanks for your considered response David (as always). 

My major concern in all policy making is if it is evidence based.  The LGA paper largely looks at case studies which are isolated and don’t have the numbers to back them up.  For instance one of the case studies says that half a million pounds was saved through a shared service.  As local government finances have shrunk by up to 50% in some cases it’s my suspicion that those savings would have had to be found wether a service was shared or not as there was simply not the money to spend.  What would be useful is comparing costs and savings in shared services compared to traditional one council services.  That kind of evidence is lacking in the LGA paper but is in the Oxford University research which seem to find no significant savings from shared services but plenty of false assumptions and claims about them.

On the issue of a shared Chief Executive, imagine a situation where we shared with say Barnet.  In Haringey the senior management team plan and promote in-house provision as the best option for care at home while in Barnet the same people plan and promote an outsourced option.  I simply can’t see that happening - or if it did it would just fill the pages of Private Eye with a story for people to shake their heads at.

Thanks again, Michael.

There's obviously a lot more to go into.

Perhaps after the election over a beer? (assuming I'm still worth talking to)

All the best,


You’re always worth talking to David 

This comes from the inwardly looking Tory view of the world, the same place as the bedroom tax. Jacob Rees-Mogg has taken this to extremes where he has the equivalent of two modern families but only one wife. At some point we have to agree that you can cover a large portfolio poorly or a small portfolio well...

Do the Lib Dems still support the 'Go Home' vans they introduced when they were in government?

A newspaper article from 2014 casts doubt on 'support' and 'they introduced'  - it asserts that within the Home Office 

"The low point for relations with the Lib Dems came last summer when the now notorious “go home” vans were sent round areas of high immigration without even informing the resident Lib Dem minister first."

See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/04/norman-baker-home-...

Presumably they weren’t informed about tripling student tuition fees or selling Royal Mail at a loss either. 

Addressed your initial factual point. 

Royal Mail, don't know.

Student fees, everybody knows!   

Does our Chief Executive have so little to do that he could contemplate taking on a second ( or third ) borough ?



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