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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Resurrection of discredited Onside Youth Zone proposal, to be decided very soon! Urgent action needed now

This post needs to be seen as a continuation of my original thread about Onside and Chestnuts Park, posted in April 2017 http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/17-questions-about-hari....

I have heard via Twitter and minutes of the November 17 Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=756&am... that the Haringey Cabinet as one of its last acts before the May election is planning to decide to dish out money to Onside! Apparently this will involve £3m cash plus annual revenue to Onside to build a YouthZone in the grounds of Woodside School! After all the exposure to the myriad faults of the Onside model listed on this thread above, it seems unbelievable that this is happening. 

It will involve Metropolitan Open Land.

There has been no competitive tendering of the project.

The Board of Onside remains the same as it was when first exposed in this thread, 9 white men, 1 white woman. http://www.onsideyouthzones.org/about-us/our-board/

The 17 questions I originally posted on this thread about Onside still pertain more or less without change. Because they were never answered, and indeed were unanswerable, the Onside proposal for Chestnuts Park or anywhere in the borough was kicked into the long grass. But it seems to have been dug up again, for a final throw in the very last days of this Council regime. What is going on?  A small Labour member only Working Party was set up for the Chestnuts Onside Proposal but the proposal fizzled out before it could meet. 

The recent Haringey Labour Party manifesto conference voted to include a commitment to fund local youth services - not a massive investment in just one centre, on one site. 

Onside nationally have long wanted to get into a school. But till now no local authority could be found foolish enough to believe that any youth centre for a whole borough or town can be located in one secondary school. Everyone knows that just won't work, as shown by all evidence. 

If anyone else knows more about this latest resurrection, please let me know here or by email! I might update the 17 questions to apply to this Woodside proposal.

It doesn't seem right to me that this scarce resource of £3m should be given to Onside. Given the current Cabinet won't be in power after May, any decision about this must at least be paused, as with the doomed HDV. Because the Council decision is imminent, we need to make sure that all councillors are fully briefed asap. 

All advice welcome.

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Well, we did the Deputation yesterday. For a report on the Deputation's speech, and questions asked by councillors see the draft minutes issued by LBH today: https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/g8641/Printed%20minut...

In the view of those of us attending, including 3 Labour and 3 Libdem councillors, the Council's answers to our questions were either weak, or in most cases absent. 

We remain convinced that this is a misuse of process, and a misuse of funds. Watch this space for next steps.

Both Libdem and Labour councillors have submitted "Call Ins" of the controversial decision to award this cash and land at this point in the life of the outgoing administration. 

Here are copies https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/s100886/Appendix%204%...

and https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/s100885/Appendix%203%...

Their submissions will be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight at 7pm. The meeting will start with a Deputation against the decision. 

And then the Cabinet will whip the councillors into submission and the Scrutiny Committee will be overruled.

Ceri, Do you know what the outcome was?

Here's a video of the meeting, the deputation speech starts after about 7 minutes in. https://haringey.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/346019...

The outcome was that the Committee referred the decision back to the Decision Maker, with four recommendations. I'll do a new post about it all now

Here's a video of the Call In meeting of the Scrutiny Committee https://haringey.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/346019...

The Deputation speech starts at about 7 minutes in.

The committee made some very strong criticisms indeed of the whole process and the model, and referred the decision back to the decision maker, i.e. the Leader, but made four strong recommendations.  This is the Committee report  https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/s100952/call%20in%20r... which contains the 4 recommendations which are:

a) That there is significant clarification on the sources of funding for the Early Help and Prevention budget to provide assurance that the allocation of revenue funding for the Youth Zone, which begins in 2021, will not have a detrimental impact on statutory services and will not be at the expense ofother Children’s related services.

b) That comment be provided on the reasons for the lack of needs assessment being undertaken and assurance provided that there will be a full and thorough consultation with young people on the Youth Zoneofferand their views taken into consideration.

c) That the land at Woodside School, proposed for the Youth Zone site, be surveyed to understand if fit for development and that Planning requirements are likely to be met, before agreement is reached with OnSide for use of this site. 

d) That clarification be provided of the impact on Youth Service provision in the borough, following the commencement of revenue funding for the Youth Zone in 2021. This response should include potential implications relating to TUPE of staff." 

The Leader will hold another cabinet signing meeting this Friday at 10am where she'll presumably decide whether to agree to any of the recommendations. Here's the agenda and papers https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=8662

Some of us submitted Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) about LBH and Onside.

Mine were due to be answered by 28 March, but did not arrive in time for the deputation. They have now said they will not give me the answers until 6 April - no doubt after the 10am meeting on 6 April when the Leader will be making the decision again to give OnSide the cash.

For a record of the FOIs, see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/records_of_council_contacts_... 

My Freedom of Information Requests have now been answered, very late.  A few interesting elements, and shocking that so many high level meetings were held without any written records being made.  Some of the answers are incomplete too. I'll write more when I've had time to look at them properly. 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/records_of_council_contacts_...

In this case Billy, yes.  Any meetings that may have lead to the letting of a contract were carefully minuted in the authority I used work for.

Billy, I'm struggling to see why you are so opposed to public scrutiny of the democratic process in giving away council (our) land against council policy and investing £3m of council (our) money? These threads are asking for transparency and accountability, it seems, in my view, and simply asking for a decision to be paused to allow greater/reasonable scrutiny. Could you explain why you think these are negative? I'm really confused by your position. I don't think anyone here thinks investment in youth services is a bad use of money. The issue is throwing £3m and a plot of land at a company with no scrutiny or debate or plan for what happens after 3 years. 

Thanks, Ceri.  I have to say that if this reply is accurate, it shocks me.

Can it really be that meetings were held but no minutes taken and no written records are available about a discussion/negotiation of a project involving the long-term leasing of public land and expenditure in excess of £3.5m public money?

I once practised as a solicitor and such a lack of recording would never have been tolerated by the firm where I trained, nor the one where I worked. It was in the days of paper filing. But everything was noted. This was for some very simple reasons - not least because it justified the bill. But also because the records were an essential tool in undertaking professional work on behalf of clients. Potentially this may have involved taking or defending legal action in the future. In any case the records belonged to the clients we acted for, who could authorise such records to be passed on to another legal firm. Case files were also the way cases were passed among lawyers within the firm. Some documents might become crucial in future years and there were rules about how long they must be retained.

I subsequently changed career and became a social worker. (Not in Haringey.) There was a similar insistence on our professional duty to keep very full and accurate case records. There were some variations, from my previous job. For example files were available to children when they were adults. They were an essential tool in enabling a team dealing with an emergency to pass key information to changing staff within a duty system, hour by hour, and day by day.

Anyone who followed the Victoria Climbié tragedy or many others in different parts of the country will know that a common factor in many subsequent inquiries is communication failure. Sometimes this was across different local councils. Sometimes between different agencies, for example, the health services and the police. Sometimes it was up and down the chain of command in one agency when records were not kept properly or not passed to the relevant person. (In one instance in Brent a fax machine had no tray. So a vital fax message fell on the floor and failed to reach the senior person who could have taken action.)

In fact the Victoria Climbié Inquiry showed multiple serious communication failures in every single agency involved. These included two hospitals, three boroughs, the Police, and a prominent national voluntary agency.

In my view the new Council should look into the apparent lack of recording in the Onside Contracting-Out process. This appears to need very close scrutiny if the situation apparently disclosed by the Freedom of Information Act reply is an accurate picture. In my mind it raises very serious questions and concerns about the contracting process. And whether something has gone very badly wrong in how the present "cabinet" has carried out its duties in respect of substantial public funds and public property.
I can only hope that the people assembling answers to the F.o.I. request have somehow been supplied in error with less then complete information which they have passed on in good faith.

Not having minutes, especially of such important meetings, is shocking! For sake of communication and transparency, the minutes are fundamental. Otherwise, why is it standard practice at meetings to go over minutes of the previous meeting and agree to accept them? Keeping records and agreeing on them is the basis of democracy and of transparency.

Looking at the reply provided by the Haringey Council's Feedback and Information Team, minutes of crucial meetings are missing. How do we know that these meetings indeed have happened? The following steps are: 1) ask the Woodside High School Board of Governors for minutes of the meeting(s) held at their school relating to OnSide; 2) ask the Feedback and Information Team for an Internal Review within the next two months to determine whether minutes of the meetings are missing or have never been filed.

Ceri, thank you for energy and time in keeping us informed. As one of the Haringey Green Party candidates for Woodside, I am happy to support you with the requests.

Ivana Ćurčić

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