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

If I may, I'd like to pick up on a couple of points.

First, while it is true that the sharing of a chief executive will require the chief to take on greater responsibilities, it must be remembered that whole boroughs have from time to time been amalgamated. There has then been a trade-off between economies of scale and expanding the responsibilities of the management. Sometimes it's worked, and sometimes it hasn't; but there is nothing objectionable in the idea itself and the sharing of a chief executive is a far less radical step. (In the case of Haringey, by the way, the chief is "she" not "he".)

On the question of the "go home" vans, our objection is that they contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation which affected lawful as well as unlawful migrants. Remember it was part of a programme that was designed to create a "hostile environment" which had at its centre (I won't dignify it with the word "heart") the measures which led to the vicitimisation of the Windrush generation.

I mention this, even though it is not directly related to the local election, because most people who have had anything to do with local government knew just how casual the record-keeping was at the time when the Windrush generation arrived. 

I remember that once I was covering a surgery for a councillor in about 2008 when a man from the West Indies came in seeking help in getting passports for his children. His father-in-law was dying in Poland, and desperately wanted to see his grandchildren. There was a hold-up in the passport applications, however, because whereas the children had the father's surname, the father's passport was in his mother's maiden name because the documents that he had had when he arrived as a child many years ago were in that name.

Fortunately, I was due to see Lynne Featherstone, his local MP, the following day, and she was able to sort it out a couple of days thereafter. 

But the moral of the story is that if even I knew about the casualness of the record keeping, the Home Office must have known what would happen if they began indiscriminately to demand proof of lawful residence from people who had obviously been here for decades.

I apologise to Ms Etheridge for inadvertently and ignorantly giving her a gender reassignment ( but in these gender-blind days, do I need to ? ).

There has to be a difference between amalgamating whole boroughs and the sharing of a Chief Executive between two different boroughs. In the first, the new amalgamated borough is homogenous with one set of Council departments and policies: in the other, the Chief Executive has to deal with twice as many departmental managers and has to implement different and perhaps contradictory policies, reminiscent of the stage artists who wear costumes that are black on one side and white on the other.

In relation to the job, The Global Government Forum ( https://www.globalgovernmentforum.com/zina-etheridge-chief-executiv... ) says that she " doesn’t hide the fact that it’s intensely demanding ". How much more would it be if she took on another borough ?

If the aim then is to seek the amalgamation of Haringey with another or other boroughs that should be explicit.  There was been a long, long discussion about dealing with the rather inefficient legacy of having 33 seperate boroughs in London but changing that isn’t in the gift of any single local authority or local authority ruling party.  It would be a decision made by government probably after some kind of plebiscite.

It’s very doubtful whether the current government would even want to think about rationalising London into a far smaller number of large “super councils” as boundary changes would probably finish the Conservatives off in the capital.

PS.  One of the ideas I saw being floated a few years ago was for 6 super boroughs.  Roughly based on the N/NW, W, E, SE and SW postcodes with a central London one based on the ECs, SW1, SE1, W1/2 and the WC postcodes.  Counting the number of seats held by parties in the proposed super boroughs, the five non- central London ones would all be Labour and the central one hung.  The Lib/Dems and other parties would get little or nothing.

Hi Michael,

Just in order to avoid any misunderstanding, it wasn't my intention to advocate the amalgatation of boroughs in general or the creation of super boroughs in particlar. My sole point was to point out that that amalgamations in one form or another have been known to happen and that in comparison, the sharing of a chief executive between one or more boroughs which retain their separate identities is not that radical a measure. The possibiity is therefore worth going into.

As I said the other day, I'll be very happy to go into this further with you (and of course John as well) after the election. Unlike Labour members we welcome engagement and criticism from those we hope to represent.

While I'm on the subject of the differences between the parties, I note that there's been little dispute over the points I made above when I began this post.

All the best,


David - re sharing a Chief Executive you say - The possibility is therefore worth going into.

But, earlier you say -

 We all also reduce the number of senior staff and share a chief executive with a neighbouring borough.

Assuming " all" is a typo for "will", this is a commitment, not a possibility.

I am sure that the shared Chief Executive would find that the workload was so onerous that we would end up with a Chief Executive ( overall ), assisted by a Deputy Chief Executive ( Haringey ) and a Deputy Chief Executive ( Other Borough ) thereby increasing the number of senior staff.

No ?

"On the question of the "go home" vans, our objection is that they contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation which affected lawful as well as unlawful migrants."

There was no objection, the Lib Dems disgracefully propped up and supported the government which implemented this. Please stop rewriting history, Haringey residents are not stupid.

It's good to debate local issues on here and the solutions that each of the parties are proposing, but what we are reading here is pure fiction and removed from reality given the appalling way the Lib Dems behaved when they were last in power.

The people deported and threatened with being deported to Caribbean commonwealth countries were legal immigrants so that really doesn’t wash.  It was the whole toxic, “report your neighbour/employee/tenant” policy that was incredibly objectionable and the vans were just the public face of it.

I was concerned by the vans. If they freeze my bank accounts (they're currently going through 70 million current accounts to check immigration status) because they want me to prove I'm OK to be here, I'm going to be quite stuffed. God knows what it must be like for these people.

You'll never get this exactly right so you can err on one side or the other.

This Economist article from around the time of the vans issue is interesting. I don't think I'd call the Economist an LD mouthpiece. Yet the article seems clear that the LD's never supported the policy.

Thanks, Hugh, for the link and reminder of the coalition's divisions on policy.

But my reading of the Economist article seems slightly different to yours.  So yes: "The Liberal Democrats were horrified, denying prior knowledge and calling the campaign (in the words of Vince Cable, the business secretary) 'stupid and offensive'."
But what seems to have horrified them was the vans, not the wider policy. "Mr Clegg boasted that he had told the Conservative immigration minister to concentrate on border checks instead."  Describing the two Parties' divergence,The Economist used the phrase: "squabble over the 'go home' van". And called the: "immigration vans—draconian, gimmicky and popular".

Osbawn, on your question about the impact on local politics, aren't migration issues relevant to Haringey residents - whatever their own views?

If people are interested in the wider issue, can I suggest a blog post by Luke de Noronha who has been researching with people held in detention centres and others in Jamaica who've been deported. His work fills in some more pieces of the jigsaw.

Noop, I think we read it pretty much the same way. I wanted to point people to the article and let people decide for themselves rather than chooosing the bits that fit with my point of view. I'm not sure that the interpretation you've just given can be said to be in any way devoid of your political viewpoint.

I guess none of us need any reminding about the divisions on policy in Labour and the Conservatives (in fact I'm not sure why, given the ubiquity of this feature across all parties, you felt the need to point it out).



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