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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

HarringayOnline is not what it used to be for politics - Haringey cabinet sackings edition

Just take for example the lack of coverage of one of our local councillors being sacked from the cabinet on New Year's Eve and replaced with another one of our local councillors a couple of days into the new year. Covered in OnLondon here.

Clive Carter posted it on OpinoN8 (Crouch End's forum) but hardly anyone reads that compared to HoL. Anyway, his post is here.

Instead we're more often than not name calling, selling stuff and recommending tradespeople. We used to be better than this.

Tags for Forum Posts: ahmet, brabazon, cabinet, council, haringey, politics, sacking

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Cllr Ejiofor has sent the email above to every Labour party member about Fortismere. I cannot reply to every party member but I can post some comments here  on Harringay on Line for residents elsewhere and in my ward.

I have disagreed with him on Fortismere, but have never said we are 'giving Fortismere £35.9m'. I am aware this project is being promoted as self-financing, but I am deeply concerned that this will not be the case ultimately. Capital schemes usually overrun. 

As a Foundation School, the first funding body for Fortsimere should be the DfE/Education Skills and Funding Agency. (EFSA) Why Haringey should be taking a huge risk on assembling land, ( for which application to the Secretary of State to transfer to the local authority would have to be made ) and expending £35.9m capital hoping to recoup the money from market sales, is beyond me.

Before thousands of pounds are expended on feasibility and other work, surely the school should just apply to the government for funding. Has the school applied - I don't know.  I've asked.

What we do know now  is  that this project hasn't emerged out of the blue - although as a Cabinet member I knew nothing about it till it appeared in a line item in a budget discussion a few weeks ago.

A brief paper subsequently followed because some of us asked for one. It is only now, because of several questions being asked by me and others, that more information is coming to light. It seems LBH has spent money on this - how much and for what? What is/was this project board and who sits on it?  It seems there are plans, so contrary to this being just a 'line item' in the budget with 'possibility that a proposal might be developed in this period ' it seems to me reasonable to assume this project is considerably more advanced. As there have been meetings - apparently with Haringey - for two years it would be surprising if it wasn't.

Turning to the issue of council housing being built, I can assure everyone on HoL that I am firmly committed to council housing. I am curious to know if this forms part of the school's plans or is just inserted now as an after thought. We have been told the plans are for 68 market and 14 council - so the site in question must be quite big. The fact that these figures are so precise suggests there are plans and quite sophisticated financial calculations. I have asked for more information as thus far, we have seen nothing. Will the DfE agree to the transfer of education land? Does the GLA like education land to be lost? These are  two huge questions, and it is my view that these should be clarified before more Haringey money is spent on working up a scheme which is so costly and so risky. Fortismere, as an effectively independent school - albeit funded by the government - should go to the government first to build a new 6th form centre which I am sure they need. Just as other schools in Haringey have great needs That should be a first step and is relatively  simple and straightforward. 

Cllr Ejiofor states that we all knew the 'full reality of the relevance that this line item had'. If only! That's why I am asking so many questions.

One lesson from the Haringey Development Vehicle is that each, supposedly non-committal step which says a project at this point is just 'exploratory', indicative' , 'in development ' and so forth, fundamentally builds the foundation for the ultimate formal decision which is being sought. By  the time this is clearer the argument is made that plans are so advanced it is difficult to withdraw. 

Finally, there are knock on effects on other schools. How will an expanded 6th form at Fortismere impact on Hornsey and Highgate Wood? How will community schools feel about so much money and officer time going into this project when community schools need huge investment? 

For the record, I am fully supportive of spending our capital money on schools and delighted there is money in the 2019/2020 capital budget for repairs.Long overdue. I am fully supportive of our manifesto commitment to build council houses and hope many sites in our ownership and control will be developed very soon. I will do all I can to make this happen.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with their support and good wishes.

Zena 

Zena Brabazon

Cllr, Harringay Ward

email: zena.brabazon@haringey.gov.uk

Has anyone contacted the auditor to review the decision?

There is a useful and little known power to do so in the Audit Act. https://www.nao.org.uk/code-audit-practice/council-accounts-a-guide...

I've been thinking along the same lines, Burgoyne Bec.
Would you like to say a little more on your thinking about such a referral to the external auditors? And which specific section or sections of the guide you have in mind?  

Seems to me that part of the problem is gathering enough information to make a case which the auditors are likely to take seriously. Zena Brabazon has had (several days late) only the first tranche of the information she requested from senior council staff as a formal member (councillor) enquiry.

Meanwhile Joe Ejiofor has used his privileged access to both the the Tottenham and Hornsey Wood Green Labour membership databases to send out personal emails to the several thousand local Party members with his one-sided version of events. In which truth-telling by Cllr Zena Brabazon and Cllr Peray Ahmet is hinted as leaking or attempts to destabilise his leadership.

Classical "ad hominem" distraction technique. Avoiding the risk that people may see this as a the simple notion that schools should be about teaching and learning. Not property development. And certainly not a highly risky £35.9 million property speculation scheme. Where as far as I can see, Haringey Council takes on the risk in order - so it's claimed - to get fourteen Council homes at nil cost.

There's an old proverb that: "a fish stinks first at the head". Which I've read is inaccurate, since the guts of a dead fish rot and smell before the head. It seems to me that in local government the whole "Leader/Cabinet" system stinks to high heaven.

[My political declaration as required by HoL rules is on this page]

I'll have a think about it. I haven't looked at the Act since it was reformed post removal of the Audit Commission. 

Thanks for getting back to me.
Let me confess that I'm an unreconstructed leftover from the twentieth century.
I still think the seven "Nolan" Principles of Public Life (1995) are a useful guide. 

● Honesty
● Integrity
● Accountability
● Leadership
● Openness
● Selflessness
● Objectivity.

Yes, I realise. Such quaint old-fashioned thinking. Long since updated, modernised and simplified. The current Haringey Seven Principles.

Leader. Leader. Leader. Leader. Three. Bags. Full.

The Ham & High has a story about this here, saying that the firings were because of the Fortismere £36 million. I knew that the council leader was an ex-governor of the school and that his kids attended but I didn't know that there were four councillors with children at the school!

Envy? Although I do know three of them rent in Muswell Hill but own in Tottenham.

Actually I am wrong. The leader and his wife (Councillor Anne Stennett), own a house in Tottenham freehold. They own a flat in Muswell HIll leasehold but rent together elsewhere in Muswell Hill. This is all on their declarations but it's complicated and I am a bit thick.

Anne's brother-in-law, Mark Blake owns in Muswell HIll.

I think the other councillor with kids at the school would be Pat Berryman and he owns in Muswell Hill too.

By the way it costs £200k to build a house so the £40m could be used to build 200 new council houses.

Houses on school playing fields? Where have we heard that before?

Peter Chalk, the total so far is £35.9m not £40m. (Though of course not every building project always comes in on time and on budget.)

The number of Council Houses which Honest Joe claims for the project is actually 68 market and 14 council. (See Zena's comment above.)

But in any case the claim made by Joe is the that the deal "would be self-financing". And that "the Council gets its money back in full ".

So no risk; no loss.
Step right up. Everyone's a winner
Bargains galore
That's right you too can be the proud owner of
The quality goes in before the name goes on

£35.9 million
We got service after the sale

We've got an year end clearance
You can drive it away today.

Act now and receive as our gift to you.
They come in all colors.
One size fits all

50% off original retail price
Skip the middle man

Don't settle for less.
How do we do it?
You've heard it advertised
don't hesitate

that's right it fillets
it chops, it dices, it slices
it never stops
lasts a lifetime, it mows your lawn

it picks up the kids from school
it delivers the pizza

And it's only £35.9m
Step right up

If not completely satisfied
mail back unused portion of product for a complete refund of price of purchase.

Don't be fooled by cheap imitations

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.
_______________

John I checked out that bar you mentioned. Kooooool vibes.  People were kool in there. Friendly just like it should be. Half a black turned into a pint.     I've never seen the Sainsbury with her lights on. She looked classy sexy.   4 charity shop everyone in there kool (people talk to each other in charity shops) needed something from my phone printed off. a kool hong kong brother sorted it for me. Ooo Indian food (indika) popped in for menu Indian brother was kool (Bangladeshi chef) ooo nuts. Went in to the nut shop... I think shed had a long day but thats still a lot of "kool" Kings kebab. Round the back there could tell you some stories. Park road junk shop  (the man before the last man) where did he go?  The shop that fixed the tellys and videos cross the road from the Salisbury.    The greek brother that had the flower shop. The greek brothers in the butcher's. Many pool cafes.  The snooker club spent a good few nights/mornings up there.       I like Harringay then and now.  I'll be taking my lady to indika restaurant soon. Shes from Bangladesh and she knows her food I warned the chef:-)   I will be back.  

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