Gordon Peters was the Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green. He is a retired international development consultant for the likes of UNICEF and the EU and the second-longest-serving director of social services in London at Hackney Council. On 13.2.17 he delivered to the Council Leader a Pre-Action Letter from Leigh Day, Solicitors, for her to give reason [by 27 February] why we should not proceed to Judicial Review. Please help make this legal challenge a reality by donating to the HDV Crowd Funding Campaign
Haringey Development Vehicle – A quasi-monopoly
Proposed partnership gives a quasi-monopoly to Lendlease over opportunities for commercial and business development sites, previously belonging to Council. Lendlease is the worst choice, has atrocious track record vis a vis corruption and criminality proven in NY City, their blacklisting of workers, and changing the terms in deal with Southwark to disadvantage of social housing.
Letter to businesses, and small arts firms in Chocolate Factory, Wood Green, for instance has only served to sow feelings of precarious future and disruption of business
- Of 532 commercial units in HDV tranches, 2 designated as park, and 3 as clinic —what consequences?
- What about the NHS and local authority intended care closer to home hubs?
- Will these be closer to to the 40% of new homes ‘affordable’? And what is affordable? – Nowhere defined
- This presently is usually 80% mkt. rate, not the 30 to 40% market rate which would be more commensurate with Council housing.
- Where is social housing in the HDV? — only the vaguest mention.
- Where are people in their ‘70s and over to go and who do not expect to have to move house again, many living with complex conditions and many also living alone, and with declining social care services for them?
If they live in an ‘’under-used, surplus or strategic location’’ that area of land and property is stated as the kind which will be transferred into the HDV in a future tranche. No attention is given to the needs- and basic human rights – of vulnerable elders, and others, in the HDV proposal.
The HDV – in reality Haringey ‘Demolition’ Vehicle – must be de-railed!
Five legally important reasons to stop it:
- It has been cavalierly promoted with gross neglect of proper consultation
- It is profoundly undemocratic
- It invites serious financial and legal risks – at cost to the public purse – now compounded by the choice of Lendlease
- It negates the human rights of many vulnerable people living locally
- It has environmental and equalities implications which have not been addressed
In the Leader’s letter to the Guardian she made what must be a Freudian slip, or parapraxis, revealing her true intention where she states:
‘’We are rebuilding a local school, improving open spaces [sic] and driving as much affordable housing out of these sites as we possibly can”.
We have to demand that they think again.
What else could they do?
Well, they say they had six options, including one on a wholly owned vehicle able to borrow for investment, but their papers to Cabinet rule out that and another four options as not viable — without due reasons and evaluation given. This defies a previous Supreme Court judgement against Haringey [Moselev v.Haringey] and run by Taxpayers Against Poverty which said there must be consultation and adequate reasons given for ruling out alternatives.
They could borrow as Enfield have done and build Council houses – without Right to Buy, in an arms length vehicle; they could protect public land, and licence landlords of private tenants with sanctions.
They could do what the market can’t do — set up a municipal energy company, retrofit houses and refurbish, listen to grassroots organisations like Our Tottenham, raise Social Impact Bonds as Islington have done and do more Combined Heat and Power in new housing like the Bunhill development which Hornsey MP, Catherine West is rightly proud of.
They could spend their central allocations grant much more wisely, retaining local control – for instance see <https://michaeledwards.org.uk> and not threaten to eat into Metropolitan Open Land, as they have been doing, round the edges.
They should halt now, as the Overview and Scrutiny Committee unanimously recommended, re-examine fully in full Council, and for this scale of a once -and- for- all transfer of public assets, have a public ballot.
I want to quote a seemingly anodyne comment from the Chief Financial Officer in the proposal being put to Cabinet:
“Consideration should also be given to the fact that there may be financial implications arising from any subsequent decision of the Council to withdraw from the proposed joint venture arrangements”.
That sentence contains the myriad of risk, and indebtedness which could accrue, and is simply not attended to in the documents for the HDV —— all left to future working out. The track record of Haringey Council in these matters — deals with private investors which come unstuck, such as Alexandra Palace and Wood Green centre – is very poor. And Lendlease in Southwark have ended up costing Council taxpayers hugely.
Finally I ask what consideration is being given to lone householders, senior citizens, people with disabilities who depend on community facilities and connections close at hand, in the years of uncertainty, of disruption, and re-negotiation which now come with this intended demolition of estates, and completely changed nature of their communities with whole scale redevelopment. None that I have read. We need instead the restoration of the values of compassion and solidarity.
With this in mind I therefore have delivered to the Council Leader a Pre-Action Letter from Leigh Day, Solicitors, for her to give reason [by 27 February] why we should not proceed to Judicial Review.
With a writ in one hand and the people on the streets, we must oppose this most irresponsible selling off.