The Scrutiny Report on the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) was published on Monday.
Attached is the report for everyone to read. It is quite long but the key recommendation is on page 1 so easy to access. In summary, the committee was unanimous (across both parties and differing political views within the Labour members) that the risk of this £2 billion project is so great and not yet fully quantified, that the procurement process should be halted. I think our report is measured, thoughtful, well-evidenced and researched.
The whole area of Local Authority Backed Asset Vehicles (LABVs) is complex and quite opaque since these companies are private Limited Liability Partnerships so covered/shrouded in commercial confidentiality. Nevertheless we did find out about some other authorities' experiences which overall raises very serious doubts about the wisdom of proceeding. And Haringey's Development Vehicle (HDV)appears to be the largest attempted anywhere, and far larger than any other example we found. It is also unusual in including Council estates which would become, in effect private land.
There are massive issues of risk, due diligence, democratic accountability, impact on people's homes, tenants, leaseholders and 508 businesses renting from the Council whose leases/license/contracts will be transferred to the HDV private limited liability partnership. This is a massive issue. The argument for it is that it will generate money for Haringey as the Council transfers assets to the HDV and becomes a partner with the private developer in 'regeneration'. This would be a 20 year arrangement. These arrangements are hugely complex and are inherently risky with the size, scale and duration also risks in themselves. But please read our report and make your own judgement as this is public money and public resources we are talking about exposing to this project.
The report will be considered by the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee next Tuesday January 17. The meeting is at the Civic Centre starting at 7pm.
If you would prefer to see the report in the context of the full pack for the forthcoming meeting, please turn to page 171 of the pack hosted at the address below.
Cllr, Harringay Ward
So the argument in favour of it is this "The argument for it is that it will generate money for Haringey as the Council transfers assets to the HDV and becomes a partner with the private developer in 'regeneration'."
The only way I see that working is through buildings being demolished and densification. Do they have any examples of sites that can be regenerated and the investment returns they hope to achieve? Demolishing Wilton Rd and Willow Walk around the back of Turnpike Lane station could net enormous returns because of the densities that they can get under the London Plan.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee met last night and agreed the report. This calls for the HDV procurement to be halted until further work is done as the risks to the Council are so great, given the size, scale and duration. As Cllr Stuart McNamara said last night, this scheme - with an initial sum of £2billion of council assets - is unprecedented.
The Scrutiny report will now go to the Cabinet on February 14.
The webcast of the meeting is here: http://haringey.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/263405
Cllr, Harringay Ward
Huge overseas developer partners with Labour London Council, demolishes 1200 Council homes, replacing them with luxury flats, almost no social housing. Rehousing the booted-out council tenants outside the borough, paying compensation etc costs the Council more than the £50m it got in revenue from the developer. Huge future profits promised that might easily disappear. Rumours of a 'revolving door' of employment between the two partners. That couldn't happen here, could it? Oh wait, the $2bn 'Haringey Development Vehicle' gambling partner is the same one doing the Southwark deed.
Have the senior Cllrs in this deprived borough been driven mad by the nasty cuts raining down on them year after year from central government? If the Council had been a right-wing one, it would have been so much worse - how heartbreaking it must be for Cllrs who devote their lives to social justice to be plunged into a morass not of their making.
Faced with the problem of widespread poverty and the dwindling role for a huge organisation in a society seemingly mass-producing it, radical change is clearly needed but that needs cash, so how can it be obtained?
Election after local election see residents give our Council a huge, permanent 50 year mandate to sort things out, and endorse their track record in so doing - there is no doubt about that. This must surely hearten the few, long term senior Cllrs who have seen it all over the years to take the bold steps they see as the only way.
The long history of complaints against Council activity have been comprehensively neutered by the system Civil Servants have set up, seemingly precisely for this purpose. No group can gainsay what the Council Cabinet decide - the Cabinet have a permanent majority and the complainers never do, so, in a democracy, might is right. the best the Cabinet can do is sugar-coat the most unpalatable.
So no amount of protest, not even riots in the street, produce a change of course - the Cabinet would be mad to give into people who can always be easily characterised as being in the minority. Even if the Cabinet can be shown to have made a huge mistake (and the Civil Servants are very careful to make sure that can never happen) they retain the confidence of residents - after all, nobody is perfect - the private sector makes much worse mistakes all the time. costing millions and doing harm, so what makes a council immune?
The only way forward I can see is 'eyes on the prize' - the more people allowed access to the information that leads to decisions, the more wise counsel. We have to support those we pay to operate our borough, all we need is to make sure we are in possession of enough facts to give a helpful valuable opinion in order to have 'done our bit'
Unless the system changes radically (and it is improving, becoming massively more participatory over the decades) what else can we do?
That is why I think it vital to press for transparency. For example, the government have advised Councils not to use Commercial Confidentiality in public procurement as in their opinion it does more harm than good. Our Council have signed up top the Govt's 'Transparency Code' and other councils are actually implementing it. So could ours.
Information wants to be free - we need to actively break it out of jail if we are to fulfill our civic duties.
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