A majority of Labour councillors supporting controversial £2 billion plans to regenerate Haringey have voted to press ahead with the scheme despite quitting their seats before local elections in May.
According to a Labour source councillors met on Tuesday evening after a motion was moved calling on leader Cllr Claire Kober not to sign any further documents in relation to the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) in the next three months.
In the meeting 24 councillors are reported to have voted to press ahead with the HDV whilst 22 voted against.
The source said of 20 councillors due to quit 19 voted to push through the HDV “no matter what”.
“The issue is 19 councillors lost their seats because of their support for the HDV. It’s clear the next administration will not support the HDV and the current administration has lost its mandate.
“The next administration could be forced by sitting councillors into doing something it doesn’t want to do.”
The source added: “It is like they are waving the middle finger at the people of Haringey as the door slams shut behind them. The HDV is a policy that has no support across the borough, and is ‘toxic’ within the party.
“The arrogance of those committing the next administration – of which they will not be a part – to spend up to £10m to extricate itself from an agreement it clearly opposes is shameful.”
The motion represents the last political opportunity to prevent the signing of the HDV agreement before April. At the meeting, it is reported Cllr Kober reiterated her intent to sign the HDV agreement as soon as the court case concludes.
In October last year anti-HDV campaigners urged judge Mr Justice Duncan Ousely to quash the deal after a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice. The outcome has yet to be announced.
According to the source 35 Labour Party candidates standing in May’s elections have signed a letter to Cllr Kober telling her they will oppose the HDV in the next administration.
The letter states:
We are writing to you about the HDV as fellow Labour Party Council election candidates.
You will know that we were all clear in our selection meetings that we were opposed to the HDV and we wish to ensure that in taking decisions regarding it you are aware of our commitment to a fresh approach being taken to regeneration and housing.
If in May the HDV has not yet been signed into existence, we will not support it being signed. If it has been signed, we will support measures to (i) end its existence as a joint vehicle between the council and Lendlease, and (ii) ensure that any property consigned to it by the council is retained within a council owned portfolio.
Therefore, with the elections so close, the legal challenges to the HDV, and the clear positions against it taken by both Tottenham and Hornsey and Wood Green CLPs, any attempt to advance it, sign contracts, or incur any additional expense would be detrimental to the interests of Haringey. No purpose can be served by any further progress on the HDV, except to expose the Council to risks including potential liability for a financial penalty to be paid to Lendlease.
Over the next few months we will all be campaigning for the return of a Labour Council and we trust you will agree that a clear recognition of the changed situation regarding the HDV would be very helpful in doing so."
The 19 councillors refused to confirm how they voted after an email from chief whip Cllr Lorna Reith was circulated saying it would be “completely inappropriate” for them to respond to the Ham&High’s request.
The HDV scheme sees Haringey transfer public housing, land and business premises to a joint venture between the council and private developer Lendlease.
Haringey says the HDV will help it provide the homes and jobs residents are calling for whilst critics have slammed it saying it will put vulnerable people at risk.
In recent weeks a slew of sitting Labour councillors announced they will not be standing in the local elections including housing chief and HDV cheerleader Cllr Alan Strickland.
Asked how binding the vote is, the source said due to party rules there can’t be a similar vote for another three months.
“This was the final opportunity to stop the signing of any more HDV documents. The majority of the existing Labour group are determined to make the HDV their legacy,” the source added.
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