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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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I do not have a problem with skiing. It's quite an expensive pastime though. I'm skiing in Norway at Easter. I'm looking forward to seeing some other Haringeyites on the slopes sponsored by this MASSIVE BUNG from Onside.

John, one really shocking thing about the Onside fiasco is that - even now - some of the Kobots and apparently their senior officers don't understand the basics of contracting. Don't grasp that there needs to be a clear line between those who represent the Council's and residents' interests; and those senior staff working for potential contractors.

A hopelessly blurred line helps nobody and further corrodes public trust.

By the way. I've no idea how many Haringey schools organise subsidised skiing and other trips for their students. Our daughter's comprehensive did. But that was a long long time ago.

I don't have a problem with Onside itself or skiing. I believe Onside offer good stuff to young people at their centres. I haven't called them discredited at all, only the 2017 proposal for Chestnuts was discredited and rejected - by everyone, including Onside. I think that the OnSide skiing trip John put links to was paid for by a donation Onside got, and it looked like the young people got lots from it. (Schools and youth clubs used to take loads of young people on adventure trips including skiing, and for everyone including those who can't afford it otherwise, it's usually a great experience. However, nowadays I would have thought that keeping centres like Haringey's Welsh outdoor centre Pendarren open would allow all children from the borough's schools to experience this kind of thing rather than just a small number of lucky ones who get donated funding to go on expensive ski trips, but that's for another discussion). 

My problem with this OnSide/Woodside deal is that it just has not been procured or assessed properly, will tie up borough wide youth funding just within one school and have negative effects on opportunities across the borough. And the fact that the Haringey headed FAQ document urging Labour councillors to vote to give Onside the cash at Tuesday's meeting seems to have actually been written by Onside itself, just reinforces my concerns.  

I wish we didn't have to waste time opposing things, and could spend more time making good things happen, which is what I try to spend the majority of my time doing. But sometimes it feels necessary to speak up. Fine for anyone to disagree of course. 

I've just submitted a Freedom of Information request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/records_of_council_contacts_...

asking the following questions:

Dear Haringey Borough Council,

Between April 2017 to the present day please supply:
• records of meetings and emails between Woodside High School and Haringey Council in relation to the OnSide Youth Zone project
And beween 01.01.2010 and 01.01. 2016 please supply:
• records of any meetings including meals, receptions and informal meetings between Haringey Council officers, councillors or consultants with anyone representing OnSide Youth Zones"

There are more unanswered questions of course, but this is a start. Very much hoping that Labour Group councillors will vote against this ill conceived cash giveaway tonight. Several of those usually voting with the current Cabinet have privately acknowledged that they know this isn't a good decision or location. They should be able to vote with their conscience tonight, I hope they feel able to. 

Thanks Ceri for continuing to dig away. Spending Haringey residents' money and making decisions about Council freehold-owned Metropolitan Open Land should be made on the basis of full disclosure with accurate figures.

It's highly unsatisfactory that this is carried forward in secret meetings with potential contractors and then behind closed doors in the Labour Group. And when the Council logo is used on documents pretending to be answers by Haringey professional officers to frequently asked questions, which turn out to be - in effect - a one-sided sales brochure from the single favoured contractor.

Hopefully you'll get clear and full public answers to your questions and we'll discover just how long these behind the scenes dealings have been going on and what's been discussed and promised.

Perhaps also why it seems that no proper evaluation has been carried out. Nor why - again as it seems - there's no clarity about the legal position and the relative future responsibilities of the various parties. To me these appear to be fundamentals which should have been hammered out before sleep-walking into a £3 million-plus open ended proposed giveaway.

Haringey has been here before. High hopes; positive aspirations; forget the risks. Don't worry your little heads about anything. And especially don't bother about what can and probably will go wrong. It's not the money and land of the people driving through this decision. And besides almost none of them will be on the Council after 3 May.

Too pessimistic and over-cautious? I regret that it is not. As I hope anyone will agree who knows about various past Haringey mess-ups. (The Firoka licence at Ally Pally is only one of many such  examples).  I was once a lawyer and know only too well that half the job is to uncover, prevent, or at least warn people of potential risks. And if possible add safeguards.
Because, as the song says:
"You got it buddy the large print giveth and the small print taketh away."

STOP PRESS - General Exception Meeting Monday 19 March 11am to rush through agreement of this project. 

Because the Labour councillors seem to have voted by a majority of 24/17 to approve this project, it's still in the running, even though both Constituency Labour Parties voted the following night overwhelmingly to oppose the project and to campaign against it. (Out of the 24 councillors voting for it, I think only 4 are actually standing for reelection in May, so it's clear it's not a popular project with any of the incoming councillors - whoever is elected,  as the LibDem opposition councillors also oppose). 

However, elements of the project require further Cabinet decision (I think the choice of location and loss/swap of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). But because there are now no Cabinet meetings before the 3 May election, the leadership have yesterday issued a General Exception Notice https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=622... which would allow the contract with OnSide to be signed in public at 11am on Mon 19 March. 

The reasons given for the urgency apparently include the claim that OnSide would walk away if they had to wait a few weeks. Given that they've been courting Haringey Council for up to five years, this is odd! 

The agenda and set of papers behind this exceptional decision meeting have just been put on the Council's website https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=8641

In particular the following document gives the map of the proposed MOL swap, which I believe has to be approved by the GLA before it can get planning permission.  https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/documents/s100490/18%2003%2009%...

When I know more about what a General Exception Notice involves I'll post again here. The public are allowed to attend, and councillors are allowed to speak. I believe that, as with Cabinet Decisions, a group of councillors are able to "call in" this decision to ensure proper process and further scrutiny. 

The General Exception Notice meeting for the Leader to sign the decision to give the money to Onside will be held in public at 11am on 19 March at the Civic Centre. We are putting together a Deputation to that meeting. If you would like to sign the Deputation Requisition, and/or to join the Deputation at the meeting, please let me know asap on ceri.williams@blueyonder.co.uk. One member of a Deputation can speak, and other members of the Deputation are allowed to answer questions. Councillors are allowed to ask questions. Now the papers about the proposal have at last been published (see links in my previous post) we have finally seen the area of land which is proposed as a swap for the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) which they plan to build on, and it does not appear to be a reasonable swap. If you would like to know more, get in touch with me. At the very least, we believe that local people and the GLA need more time to examine the details of the MOL swap.

There's already a sports centre there run by Fusion Lifestyle, so why not combine with what is already on offer? I am not certain that there is a good plan for year 4, which is a big problem.

In the aftermath of the awful killing of teenager Kelvin Odunuyi in Wood Green, another tragic victim of what is said to be a Tottenham v. Wood Green postcode gang war, those responsible in Haringey Council should ask themselves whether it is the best possible use of money to ditch £3 million of the youth budget into a single site that could, in such an environment, either be shunned or become a potential battlefield. What's the hurry? Can't the incoming Council have a careful look at this in May before putting millions of pounds of scarce public money into what might prove to be a white elephant? Onside's schemes have also been attracting controversy elsewhere - http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/new-youth-zone-plan-in-warrington...

Thanks Jamousa, for the link to Warrington

There is no point whatsoever for a rushed decision in Haringey.

There is every point in leaving the decision to the new Council. They - whatever the new political balance - are the appropriate body to set up a framework to evaluate and scrutinise the Onside bid. The newly elected administration will then be free to make up its mind - either way.  For Claire Kober to seek to bind the new council may be technically possible, but it is is simply undemocratic.

In the past Cllr Kober has gone into local elections in the reasonable expectation that she would remain Leader. This time neither Claire Kober nor her colleague Eugene Ayisi will be members of the new council.

Inquiries about existing centres in other towns and cities should form part of the due diligence process. And that includes the impact on staff terms and conditions.

Hi Jamousa

I have asked exactly what you set out in your post. I have also asked for all the briefings and papers regarding knife crime and what I am told is a developing knife crime strategy.  I have also looked through the reports and papers to the Haringey Community Safety Partnership (the statutory partnership body between the Council and the Police) but could find no mention of the Youthzone or OnSide!! I found that very worrying and have asked about that as well. 

These terrible killings and the brawl outside the Haringey 6th form centre last week should make us stop and really think hard about  youth issues and the type of provision needed for young people across the borough.A huge £6m building, which will consume most of our resources is not an option which it seems to me will tackle the postcode and gang problems which are so prevalent. Locally based youth work - centre based and detached youth work- is another option which we should be looking at. 

As you say .. what is the hurry? As there appear, from the report, to be no formally agreed documents, I hope we can change and review this after the elections without any liability.  

Zena Brabazon

Cllr, Harringay Ward

Our Deputation has been accepted and we will be speaking at the Cabinet signing meeting in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 at 11am this Monday at the Civic Centre. We will be objecting to the haste of the outgoing Leader to rush this controversial decision through by General Exception Notice only days before "purdah".

In line with the views of both local MPs, the local Libdems and both Constituency Labour Parties, we will be urging a pause. If you would like to hear what we have to say, do come along. Local Libdem and Labour councillors (who are standing for reelection in May, unlike the majority of the Cabinet), will also be present to oppose this decision to tie the hands of the incoming administration into a spend which will not be supported by the new administration, whoever is elected.  

We have also conveyed our views to the GLA on the unsuitability of the Metropolitan Open Land swap proposal, and informed our local GLA representative. Haringey Friends of Parks Forum will be discussing the issue in full at our next meeting in April. 

It is of course possible that when OnSide Board realise the extent of local opposition to this unpopular forward promise of youth service budget for 3 years by an outgoing administration, they may withdraw to avoid reputation damage.  

It is also possible that those senior officers to whom it is planned to delegate special authority to sign away the money during "purdah", may render themselves vulnerable in terms of acting against the financial interests of the Council, in terms of knowingly signing agreements which a future Council will definitely need to break. 

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