Protest and survive? Opposition to the HDV outside Haringey Civic Centre on 14th February
Dave Hill, who writes for The Guardian, is probably the most interesting and insightful commentator on London affairs currently active. That doesnt mean I always agree about what he says. His latest piece on the Haringey Development Vehicle is a case in point:
First a few caveats. I’m writing here in a personal capacity only (well its my blog…). Secondly I’m on record as saying that I think change will come to Tottenham and Haringey. Capital and capitalism are restless animals, relying ultimately on a mechanism of boom and bust. Until and unless they are replaced a steady state is not likely to be maintained in any significant sphere of life. Thirdly I agree with Dave Hill that local authorities are strapped for cash. After years of Tory/LibDem and now Tory Governments cutting funds in pursuit of an ideologically driven austerity agenda that is a reality that must be grappled with.
But is the HDV as Hill seems inclined to suggest the only game in town?
I doubt it. Some years ago as a union officer in the private sector I dealt with a very large UK company that for one reason or another wanted to raise capital. It had the idea of handing over its property and land assets and related operations to third parties. In the short term it worked. But what about the medium and longer term? Those who came along after wondered I think about why such a short term expedient, that robbed them of much flexibility and was not actually cost efficient in the longer run either, was ever pursued.
Since I work entirely in the private sector I’m obviously no expert in public sector finance or how plans to raise capital or run building programmes might work. I do get frustrated at those who opine confidently on things they know little about.
So in terms of alternatives to the HDV I’ll confine myself to saying that I see no evidence that alternatives have been considered. I cant really see why the Council cant raise capital itself on the land and property assets it owns and use that to build housing and so on, cutting out profits to a third party. But perhaps there are good reasons.
There is a further point. In the private sector scheme I mention above the interests of those directly impacted- employees- were protected by their unions. In Haringey all the Council trade unions UNISON, GMB, UNITE, have expressed very considerable concerns about what the HDV will mean. Also directly impacted of course will be many local residents and businesses. The messages on how they have been consulted or even told about plans seem confused at best. I’d expect much better from a Labour Council.
Until I see much better explanations on the HDV and why according to some it is the only way forward, see you on the next protest against the HDV