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The Lib Dem team for Harringay Ward: Why we’re standing and a bit about ourselves.

The Lib Dem team for Harringay Ward: Why we’re standing and a bit about ourselves.

The next Council elections

On the 3rd May there is an election for all 57 seats on Haringey Council.

The present Council

The present Council is made up of 49 Labour Councillors and 8 Liberal Democrats. There are no Conservative or Green Party members. It is only the Lib Dems who have prevented Haringey from being a one-party state.

Harringay Ward

Harringay Ward consists of the whole of the Ladder plus Denmark Road, the eastern side of Green Lanes from Alfoxton Avenue to St Ann’s road and the turnings off (Alfoxton, St. Margaret’s, Harringay Gardens, Park Road, Colina Mews, Colina Road), as well as the Mountview Court estate. It is a marginal between Labour and the Lib Dems.

Some History

The balance for Harringay Ward was 2 Lib Dems and 1 Labour in 2006 and 2010, and in 2014 three Labour candidates were elected. The Conservatives and the Green Party have never been in contention, even when Matt Cuthbert got their best ever result in 2014, before becoming a Lib Dem himself.
Two of our candidates, Karen Alexander and David Schmitz, have served on the Council before: Karen from 2006 to 2014 and David from 2010 to 2014.

Why we’re standing

There are two main reasons.

Effective opposition

If, as many assume, Labour elects a majority of the Councillors, there really will need to be a larger opposition group to keep an eye on what they’re doing, to expose the mistakes and waste which happen on their watch and to campaign against disastrous excesses like the Haringey Development Vehicle. Remember, elections are often unpredictable, and a matter of less than 100 votes can often decide a race. So a stronger opposition is both desirable and very much achievable.

The personal touch

Faceless bureaucracy needs a human face. We see our main job as giving people someone to turn to should the system fail them. Whether it’s a flood in Wightman Road on Christmas Day, a family with small children that has been evicted, or an enforcement action that shouldn’t happen, someone has to be prepared to drop what they’re doing and call out the highways department, go with the family to the housing office, or get an explanation from someone higher up the chain of command than the call centre.
We’ve done all this in the past, and we want to do it again, but we need to be in office in order to be fully effective in doing this for you.

Why the Council needs a strong Lib Dem group

The BBC has recently observed, “Haringey Labour Party has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons - de-selections, division, denunciations.”

If Labour form the next administration in the Council, no-one will have any idea as to what that administration would look like, or even how cohesive it would be.

What we know is that there will be plenty of people who, like the outgoing leader Claire Kober, still want to bring in the Haringey Development Vehicle. Remember that for all the chaos caused by this in Labour’s ranks, they still voted unanimously against stopping it only last month, although they had the chance to do so at an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting called by the Opposition Lib Dems. Even more worryingly, they (again unanimously) voted money for it at the recent council budget meeting.

We have long attacked this idea as oppressive because it would throw people out of their homes, and as unwise because it involves gambling £2 billion worth of Council property in a deal with one developer.

There will also be plenty of new people who are quick to talk up grand schemes without any idea as to how they can be implemented or paid for. As one former Labour opponent of ours has said, "Momentum activists at some point are going to come in to contact with reality.”

In the middle of this civil war, who will do the un-glamourous jobs of seeing to it that services are provided, and that the Council’s limited money is used to best effect, rather than squandered on failed fried chicken shops, new logos, and trips to the French Riviera?
And who will address the problems with their children’s services, highlighted yet again

• By a joint inspection by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, and the police and probation inspectorates, which found that when children are assessed they are too often either not offered appropriate support or their cases are closed too early. https://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/2004846/inspectors-warn-of-ineffe...

• By the Council’s own website which points out how children in care are failed when it comes to preparation for life outside of care http://www.haringey.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/joint-stra...

That’s where we come in. We know that Councillors can make a difference, but it isn’t by grandstanding against “the system”, or by getting too close to property developers. It is by patient and probing questioning of council officers and by listening to the people we represent.

We know that the only way to avoid bad decisions is to listen to people BEFORE we make up our minds. Our manifesto is about to be published and we’ll present it here. We believe that our plan will re-assure you that someone is looking after the interests of this wonderful borough.

A bit about ourselves

David, Karen and Matt all live in Harringay ward and are raising families here, so we are here in the ward day in, day out, and we’re always on the lookout for problems that need fixing. If we’re elected no-one will have trouble getting us to help if they find themselves bogged down in the call centre or “customer services”.

Karen Alexander was a Lib Dem Councillor for Harringay Ward from 2006 to 2014. During her terms she served on the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, which brings the Council’s workings into the cold light of day, and calls in questionable decisions – like the sale of the Hornsey Town Hall to a Cayman Islands-based property developer, and the notorious Haringey Development Vehicle – for a second, independent look. Even out of office, she hasn’t let up. She continues to attend meetings of residents’ groups and the police panel, and she works tirelessly on issues of traffic and road safety.
“As far as I am concerned, the 20mph limit on Wightman Rd has [Karen’s] name on it.”

David Schmitz was a Lib Dem Councillor for Harringay Ward from 2010 to 2014 and served on the planning committee. He quickly became known for his effective and tireless work for residents.
“From the moment I first contacted David about the problem, he was on hand with lots of good advice and useful pointers in directions that had never occurred to me. He also kept in close contact at all times.”
“He seems to be everywhere on that side of the borough boundary. Everywhere.
When he’s not working for the community, he practises as a barrister.

Matt Cuthbert is keenly involved in early-years education and the improvement of our local streets. He is an education volunteer at the nature reserve at Railway Fields (by Umfreville Road) and has taught cricket at North Harringay Primary School as well as under 9s cricket at a local club. He has salvaged and maintained many of the planters which brighten up Harringay Passage. The many groups he has contributed to have included the parents’ forum and the Friends of Harringay Passage.

In 2014, he stood for the Council as a candidate for the Green Party here in Harringay Ward, and was rewarded by the voters with the best result outside of the Lib Dems and Labour. After more strongly identifying with the ideals and proposals of the Liberal Democrats, he joined the party, and brings a keen eye to local environmental issues and a welcome take on ways to address them.

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Was that the impression you got at the meeting Robin?

I can't wait for Brexit to happen. The beaches around Wellington harbour could do with a fresh dump of English sand.

However, yes, it would be lovely if the election was about local issues... sigh.

Thanks Philip for the vote of  confidence!

Gina, Emine and I have been staunch and consistent in our opposition to the HDV which has been a defining issue locally. Emine chairs our Scrutiny panel which examined the HDV in great detail, and I am a member. The scrutiny was an initiative from us as Labour councillors, and we then worked cross party to delve into and analyse the issues. As everyone knows from all the publicity, the opposition to the HDV is very widespread, with people involved form all parties and from none.

I have personally spent hundreds of hours researching these joint ventures, asking member questions, grilling Cabinet members and working with colleagues on this. All of us have made a contribution and  shown how effective scrutiny can be in holding the executive to account. And we should not underestimate the impact of the scrutiny and wider campaign in thinking about housing in London.

Now Emine is off to Noel Park, Sarah James is our fellow Labour candidate. A local resident, Sarah has been equally opposed to the HDV and equally in favour of retaining our land, investing in public housing and building homes for local people.

We are now moving ahead in assembling the manifesto. There has been huge involvement from party members, with over 200 attending a full day conference where great ideas for the new administration were discussed. With a very diverse group of candidates this is an exciting time for Labour in Haringey and in Harringay!

Zena Brabazon

Cllr, Harringay ward

Hi Zina,

I know for a fact that to your credit you've been against the HDV for a long time.

Unfortunately, though, because of your membership of the Labour group, you weren't able to translate your good intentions into action by voting the scheme down at the Council meeting.

Which illustrates perfectly well why we need more Councillors who are not under the control of the Labour whip.

Best,

David

Actually David, I was opposed to the HDV from the very first I heard about it. I was not on the  Council at the time, but raised it everywhere I could. I was clear when I ran in the by-election  that I was opposed to it for all the reasons we know. I have never wavered from that view- in fact the more I learned and researched, the worse the implications.

The work done by our Scrutiny Panel has been widely praised and it is my view that it has set a benchmark for how scrutiny can work and be effective. I think the Ofsted model of support and challenge is a very helpful guide for Councils and councillors on how to work to get good outcomes.  In other words, as elected representatives, it is our duty to ask questions, and hold the Executive to account.  Welcoming this should contribute to good decision making. 

The HDV has not been signed, and an appeal on the High Court decision has been filed so it is still in litigation.   It is now a matter for the new administration - whoever wins on May 3. 

Zena Brabazon

Cllr, Harringay Ward

I can corroborate this claim as Zena was speaking to me about it before she was even selected in the by-election in Harringay. In fact I would even say that given Clive Carter's uncovering of the long standing relationship between the Terrapin management and Haringey's councillors (going back to 2011, before Terrapin even existed) that the original, fraudulent deselection of Zena and David Browne in St Ann's was because of their potential opposition to the HDV.

I believe that those who are saying that the full Council meeting called by the Lib Dems had the authority to bring an end to HDV are intentionally misleading people. My understanding is that the full Council do not have such authority and that this currently sits with the 'Cabinet'! 

It is therefore true to say that even if the full council meeting had voted for the motion it would, in effect, have changed nothing.

Shame that some candidates in the forthcoming election are being economical with the truth! 

It's a shame that democracy does not exist within the Council and all the power appears to be in the hands of a ruling cabal who can ride roughshod over the wishes of our rank-and-file representatives.

John, it's a problem which  can and must be solved as soon as possible after 3 May. With preparations made before then if possible. There is no reason why the present autocratic, dysfunctional and undemocratic system should persist.

While there is no way in which everyone can get everything they want, there is every reason to keep talking and listening to a wide range of different local opinions, ideas and proposals. And some excellent reasons to try telling people the truth; and to reject the current practice of "selling" an official version with upbeat PR fictions.

For that reason alone, even Labour's own local supporters are entitled to ask the following question on polling day this May, 'what difference will another Labour councillor make in a borough like Haringey?'. Labour already claims 49 of the 57 councillors - leaving the LibDems (and LibDems only!) with eight councillors to form a small and effective opposition in the council chamber.  The majority of Haringey wards (each ward electeds 3 councillors) are regarded as 'ultra-safe'; the Labour vote isn't counted - it's weighed! Harringay is the only ward in the Tottenham constituency (which provides almost half the wards that go to make up Haringey Council) that is is contention (John MucMullan regards the internal Labour Party selections as the 'real' election - those blasted ballots boxes with odd little pencils in cold school halls exist only to ensure the rules are kept in accordance with the law--- but the result in, for example, Bruce Grove, is really a foregone conclusion). As it is every single councillor coming from the Tottenham Parliamentary constituency hail from the one party - Labour - making eastern Haringey a one-party state. If democratic socialists here in Harringay swim against the tide and elect three local champions in David, Karen and Matthew - they can be confident that they have played a small but vital t role in helping democracy exist in challenging - local authority such as this one --and knowing that for the duration of the council's life (4 years) it will be under Labour control (and with a hefty majority too!). Justin Hinchcliffe with a declaration of interest-- I am a member and activist in the @HaringeyLibDems

Justin I think your red mist is harming your cause.  There are London Boroughs and parts of the UK that have been solid Tory for years - you don't hear Labour using slurs like 'one-party state' against them.

The solid Labour vote here is the will of the people.  If your main reason for change is change for it's own sake then your party is doomed m8. Under our system, minority parties have no effective influence unless they're very clever and the Lib Dems have been demonstrably not that here - in 2006 they nearly had half the seats in Haringey.

When people saw what Lib Dems with power would do they not only didn't want them here, but neither in the only other London Borough they did well in for a while (Sutton), where polls say they'll lose in May. London is Labour, get with the program Justin!

Is it really a "slur" to describe a "one party state" - whereby all the available council seats belong to one political party (regardless of which party runs the authority?).  Every town hall needs opposition voices, however small in number (this would be the case if we had a fairer voting system where all votes counted...). As a matter of fact, some majority leaders have been honest enough to say that, by having a strong opposition, it helped their own administrations--not least avoiding pitfalls later down the line. It's a pity, Chris, you couldn't recognition these obvious and positive points before making a bizarre partisan rant and failing to declare your political allegiance and connection with a certain party. Hey ho. Justin (Haringey LD member)

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