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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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Ivana, While I agree with your points about transparency and minutes of meetings, to my mind the issue goes much further.

It appears that two bodies - a local Council and a charity have held meetings and discussions about purchasing services and disposing of public land on a long lease. It appears likely that there may be employment issues for other staff or agencies elsewhere in the borough. There is a third legal party involved as well - an independent academy school.

Add to this there are planning issues involved. Including some sort of "land swop" with Metropolitan Open Land.

Please don't forget as well the involvement of a senior Onside member of staff in at least contributing to the briefing which was sent to councillors with the Haringey Logo and purporting to be the professional advice of Haringey officers. This particular murky incident has not - it seems to me - been properly explained.

I accept that we don't have the whole picture and the Freedom of Information Act reply may not be complete. We need more information before we judge. However, an elected local authority has a legal duty to act reasonably. And treating such transactions in an apparently casual and informal way is not how the business of an elected council should be done.

In summary, Haringey Council is the Planning Authority, an employer, as well as - in effect - the steward of public funds and land. It's not running a corner shop. 


Regarding your candidacy, thank you for setting that out in accordance with HoL rules. If we can let's please try & disentangle the Haringey / Onside contracting-out process from the local elections. The Onside proposal will need proper scrutiny whoever wins the election.
I am not a candidate but my wife Zena Brabazon is. My own Political Declaration is about half-way down this page.

There is one empty corner shop I know about. (It's near the newsagents who order our copy of the Guardian. So I keep an eye on it.
At 451 High Road Tottenham N17, the Council purchased the five year tail-end of a shop lease to hand over free for a 1-2 year project. Also demolishing the building at the rear and leaving an open informal dumpsite/al fresco pissoir.

Regeneration? Sure. You can smell it.

Hmmm, losing the JR of its attempt to flog off Ally Pally ten years ago, with costs, is not a very good track record

Jake and others, there's a petition going around asking for funding to be returned to youth services, esp in light of the youth violence seen lately. Please sign; link

Just got a new set of answers to another set of FOIs - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/links_between_haringey_counc...

As before, just depressing to see how little proper process has been followed at any point, and how far they've already got with getting GLA to agree to support at pre app stage appalling MOL swap - building on green space, then just nominally designated some astroturf pitches already in use within the school grounds as MOL! At the Friends of Parks Forum on Saturday there was unanimous opposition to such a swap. We also heard that the Parks Service has opposed it.

However, there are still weeks before any incoming administration can stop this poor decision from going ahead and tying the hands of whoever gets elected. I'm glad, as a Labour Party member, that the majority of incoming council candidates - Labour, Libdem and Green, oppose this decision and are committed to reversing it, but I'm still not confident it will be stopped in time to avoid having to pay compensation for breach of contract.

This kind of brinkmanship from an outgoing administration is shameful, when everyone, including both local MPs, have asked them to pause. 

Thanks again, Ceri, for letting us know about this. I don't know Imelda O'Brien but I'm pleased there are other people who are not just pursuing this but sharing information through "What Do They Know".

It appears to me that the so-called "Regeneration" staff may have acted like a Council within a Council. Hopefully the new Council will look very hard and critically at how this situation arose and can be avoided in future.

It shouldn't need Freedom of information requests for Haringey residents to discover how key decisions are made (in unminuted private meetings it seems) and how our money is spent. The new Council should set and insist on far more publicly open and transparent processes.  Not only will this lead to fairer and better decisions, it will help to rebuild trust.

Open the windows. Let in sunshine and fresh air. The Onside deal might turn out to be a good idea. But deals done in the murk don't inspire confidence.

I realise that I didn't update this thread after the final depressing Cabinet Signing meeting on 6 April where Cllr Kober went ahead and approved this expenditure for the second time, in the face of strong criticisms from the Scrutiny Committee and in direct contradiction of the current local Labour Manifesto which commits to local youth work provision where it is most needed.

 It was a particularly poignant date to tie up future youth service budgets to just one main Centre in one school in Woodside. Later that very day David Lammy and Sadiq Khan were moved after hearing from young people at Bruce Grove Youth Centre about cuts to their Centre, in the wake of the murder of a young woman who had trained as a mentor there, and they promised to do what they could to help. At the Cabinet signing meeting the five councillors present (3 Labour and 2 Libdem) asked to make short statements updating the meeting in the light of the recent violence, but Cllr Kober did not allow them to speak. 

Unfortunately, although all officers concerned know that any incoming administration will seek to cancel this project (it's opposed by Libdems, Green and Labour candidates), Cllr Kober has set in train the possibility that officers could sign the money away, in purdah, and before the election.

 Here is an extract from the minutes of that Cabinet signing meeting (https://bit.ly/2HSdN7t) which gives authority to officers to sign away this money before the handover to a new administration after the 3 May election:

" To amend the Paragraph 2 of the Cabinet decision of 14th March 2017 to give delegated authority to the Director of Children & Young People Services after consultation with the Strategic Director Regeneration, Planning and Development, the Section 151 Officer and Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources to approve the final details of the project and the terms in respect of the grant funding agreement, lease, facility mix, and connection to other site specific regeneration proposals and operational detail and any further related agreements.

To approve the waiver of Contract Standing Order (CSO) 9.01.1 (contracts with an estimated value of £500,000 or above must be let following publication of an appropriate (tender) advertisement) as allowed under CSO 10.01.2 d) (the value of the contract is below the applicable threshold pursuant to the Regulations)"

The Head of Planning at the GLA and our GLA rep Joanne McCartney have been alerted by us that there is strong local opposition to the proposed Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) swap within Woodside School. (GLA approval of the swap will be needed for this project to go to local planning). They have also been informed that the Haringey Friends of Parks Forum formally opposed it at their recent meeting, and reaffirmed that any MOL swap should offer land of equal environmental value - you can't replace a green field with astroturfed pitches already in school and evening use and call it a MOL swap! We also discovered at the Forum meeting that LBH Parks Service had expressed their opposition to this proposed MOL swap. 

However, as posted already on this thread, our FOIs revealed the fact that LBH officers are well advanced in their discussions with GLA about this, and may have already gained pre app approval for it. 

It has also been revealed that OnSide have been continuing to meet with council officers and the Leader, without a single record being kept of any of the meetings, as per our FOIs. OnSide are already broadcasting the news on their website  https://www.onsideyouthzones.org/news/haringey/ and made a presentation at City Hall last week  https://twitter.com/OnSideYZ/status/986693137157578752

If you want to help free up future youth service budgets, or have objections to how this project has been managed, you can make your views known by writing to joanne.mccartney@london.gov.uk to ask her to pause the GLA permission for the MOL swap, or retweeting stuff about this (I tweet about it at @WilliamsCeri) or writing to LBH Chief Executive to ask if she is proud of the processes followed in this case or you may have other suggestions, so do post here.

I'll try to keep this thread updated over the next month. When the new Council is elected, whoever is in power will want to retrospectively examine how such a poor decision got taken in such an "unconventional" way - no commissioning, no tender, no notes of high level meetings, no consultation with anyone including secondary heads and local MPs and young people, Haringey headed document purporting to come from the Council persuading Labour Group to give the money to the OnSide charity actually being written by the recipients of the grant, the charity itself....

Gosh this is appalling Ceri - can it be pure hubris on the part of Cllr Kober?

Over the HDV I think she stated that imminent departure made no difference to her powers - she had been elected to do her job until her term ended so saw no reason to delay.

Surely Council Officers can't be seen to be complicit in this overtly political purdah activity, can they?  Have you considered asking them how to go about lodging a formal complaint about breach of purdah (or whatever that might be called)?

As you know the new Cllr candidates declared a majority in favour of cancelling the HDV so could you not ask for a similar statement from them over this? The endorsement of the Parks Forum alone should be more than enough to classify this as being opposed by a majority of concerned residents - bet the Haringey Federation of Residents Association would, if asked, join you in your demands. 

Cllr Ejiofor (tel 07940 005 507 joseph.ejiofor@haringey.gov.uk) seems to me to be the leading anti-HDV  Cllr and it's pre-election that Cllrs are likely to be most susceptible to pressure - were you to ask him to announce support for a purdah-pause, would that help do you think?

He's not, he probably just wants you to think that. I wonder where you get your information from sometimes Chris.

John, Cllr Ejiofor is anti-HDV and Deputy Council Leader - didn't see you at his St. Ann's hustings last week? If he's not the best for Ceri to lobby, who do you think the most senior Cllr to get this wrong righted?

Chris, it's not about "senior" anyone. We've been there, done that and it doesn't work. If you want "to get this wrong righted" then please contact people you know and share your view. Write to Joe Ejiofor, sure. But the days of the autocratic Dear Leader and her courtiers are rapidly coming to a close. 

If the new Council wants to truly change its culture it needs to be towards openness, inclusiveness and teamwork. 

Not just reviewing and scrutinising the so-called YouthZone project, tackling whe entire culture of a Council lacking accountability and transparency. And why it's quite wrong democratically to try to drive through the transfer of land and public money a few days before a local election. Especially at a time when party alignments are shifting.

And also at a time when the new Council and councillors inherit serious financial problems.

Alan your sweeping characterisations of the entire council lets you down. We both want better but broad condemnations do the cause no good at all. You write (above): 

"In my view all Haringey councillors and residents should, as far as possible, have unbiased professional advice from staff who work for the Council and solely serve the interests of the borough and its residents. Not serving the interests of lobbyists; nor developers; nor contractors or would-be contractors. Nor the careers of politicians."

These are empty phrases and feel like 'virtue-signalling'. Of course we all want everything to be perfect, who wouldn't? Whose interests are served is a matter of opinion, bounded by the law. It's a politicians trick to try to move the debate towards matters of opinion so that they become central to it but you don't have that mandate. If it's quis custodiet ipsos custodes then it can't be you, or me, or anyone here on HoL can it, Alan?

There are well-established governance controls in place. You want to put yourself above the process and act as judge and jury on each specific instance. We pay councils to do this stuff for us, it's seditious of you to seek to undermine the process.  

Here's more of your comments :"normalised the practice of negotiations and deals with businesses or contractors without proper records or accountability. Including chats over dinners, or private meetings with shadow Boards or simply just meetings."

This is pure propaganda.  How many meetings are conducted like this, 1%? 10%? Yes of course it's far too many but to characterise the entire council as corrupt ('normalising') is wrong and, as usual with you, damaging, doing nobody any good. So you think that having bad meetings helps other Cllrs also have them do you? You must know some of our Cllrs almost as well as you know your partner (a serving Cllr) so you'll know this is a nasty slur and not worthy of you.

Here's more:"Secrecy by default. A rotten unaccountable behind-the-curtain system; which needs to stop whichever party or parties win."

You more than most (having been a long-serving Cllr here) should know that Councils are more open than they have ever been - it's just damaging and nasty to portray our Council processes as 'rotten'. Parts of it are bad in every Council. Cllrs are people and some are rotten, some even end up in prison - we've come to accept that Cllrs and politicians generally are as flawed as the rest of us. We can't operate a system where nobody behaves badly, it's never been possible.

Abuse of power should come as no surprise.

In fact Councils are far better run and more open than the private sector, who can go bankrupt one day and start up again the next. You're helping those who call for Central Government to oppress local Councils even further and that's a nasty party idea.

Councillors are far more honourable than Board Directors, for example and paid far less. They're not in it for the money, it's a vocation - public service is a fine, honourable thing to undertake on everybody's behalf and your red mist makes it harder to encourage more people to step forward. Look at our UK Banks who, since the 2008 recession have been fined more than £35bn for rotten, corrupt behaviour. That's real and needs real attention. Councils are perfect in comparison.

The worst thing you do is condemn people, and you do it all the time. A fundamental tenet of our society is that people are innocent until proven guilty and I'm so sorry I have to even remind you of that. 



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