Articles

LibDems did NOT lead the fight against the Haringey HDV

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2018 by kmflett

LibDems did NOT lead the fight against the Haringey HDV

Anyone who has had experience of Liberal Democrat party activists will know that most are neither particularly liberal or democratic. A well-worn LibDem tactic is to claim that they were responsible for campaigns and events that in fact a range of others were responsible for.

The recent Guardian letter (below) from Haringey LIbDem Councillor Dawn Barnes on the now ceased Haringey Development Vehicle (a plan from a previous Labour Council to allow multinational privateer Lendlease to knock and down and rebuild a substantial part of North Tottenham) is a case in point.

Certainly the Liberal Democrats were involved in the campaign, which involved many demonstrations and meetings, but only as a marginal presence. They were more important in the Council chamber where they formed the opposition to Labour and one or two Liberal Democrat Councillors were particularly effective in pursuing the previous Council leadership. Many Labour Councillors were also opposed to the HDV but were constrained by Party discipline from active opposition. They organised and campaigned to change the Labour candidates who came before the Haringey electorate in May and did so successfully. The new Labour Council Cabinet withdrew from the HDV.

However such matters while they may be formally resolved in the Council Chamber are influenced by the campaign outside.

So let’s hear it for those Ms Barnes managed to forget to mention in her letter:

The No to the HDV campaign

Haringey Labour MPs David Lammy and Catherine West

Haringey’s major trade unions including Unite, GMB and UNISON (and Haringey TUC)

Haringey Defend Council Housing

Labour Party activists

The Green Party (member Gordon Peters fronted up a legal challenge to the HDV)

The Socialist Workers Party

Innumerable tenants and community groups

Guardian letter (no responses published to date)

Like virtually everyone else in the London borough of Haringey, the local Liberal Democrats were relieved to have formal confirmation at last week’s cabinet meeting that our Labour-controlled council will not proceed with the Haringey Development Vehicle and instead set up a council-owned housing company to develop homes.

As early as July 2017, Liberal Democrat councillors were warning that the HDV did not deliver enough genuinely affordable housing and involved too much financial risk. In early 2018, we called for the scheme to be scrapped and proposed a 100% council-owned housing company as an alternative, based on a similar model implemented in Lib Dem-run Sutton. In January, after Liberal Democrats had called for an extraordinary full council meeting, the national Labour party asked its local leadership in Haringey to pause the scheme.

 

We can’t help feeling that had Labour listened earlier to the warning voices from the Lib Dem council group, the wider community, or even their own ranks, they would have spared Haringey taxpayers £2.5m of costs which could have been spent more wisely by a council dealing with huge cuts to local services.

However, we need to look to the future. Few people will mourn the HDV, and the outsized financial risks and involvement of a controversial conglomerate that came with it. However, we can’t let its failure become an excuse for timidity when it comes to housebuilding. We have a serious housing supply crisis in Haringey. The Labour leader and his group need to move quickly to make sure that the wholly council-owned housing company can start delivering large numbers of homes, and soon.

Cllr Dawn Barnes

Councillor for Crouch End ward, and Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson on housing

 

 

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