Haringey Council rejects regeneration review after warning over council finances
By Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Labour councillors rejected calls for a review of a controversial regeneration scheme following a warning over the potential financial risks to Haringey Council.
The Liberal Democrats called on the council to look at alternatives to the Wards Corner regeneration project, which involves demolishing the current
site of Seven Sisters Indoor Market – also known as the Latin Village.
At a meeting of the full council last month, the Lib Dems claimed a review of the scheme could be funded by a £281,000 cut in the communications budget.
Despite the council’s repeated pledges to ensure a new market is provided on the redeveloped site, some traders voice strong opposition to the scheme and want their own ‘community plan’ to go ahead instead.
Cllr Paul Dennison (Liberal Democrats, Highgate) said: “This amendment keeps the door open on Wards Corner.
“We were told we could not right the wrong of the Haringey Development
Vehicle – but the reality was very different to what we were told.
“Our amendment will replace the cabinet’s convenient defeatism on Wards Corner with a serious effort to review the current plan and see how the community plan can be its hub to deliver a sustainable future.”
But the council’s monitoring officer, Bernie Ryan, warned members that voting for the proposal could endanger the local authority’s finances.
Mr Ryan said: “If amendment two [on Wards Corner] were to go ahead, it would create the risk of a multi-million-pound action against the council for breaching the development agreement.”
The budget debate saw Labour councillors defend their manifesto pledges and claim they are improving the borough – despite the challenges created by large funding cuts begun under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2010.
Cabinet member for finance and strategic regeneration, Cllr Charles Adje (Labour, White Hart Lane) said: “This budget builds community wealth, reduces inequality and creates a fairer and better borough.”
Haringey Council’s budget for 2020–21 includes a 1.99% increase in core council tax and a 2% rise in a levy used solely to fund adult social care.
Cllr Adje said the administration would continue to invest in social services, build 1,000 council homes by 2022 and enact a plan to make the council’s housing stock more energy efficient, among a range of other projects.
Budget documents show that the local authority will also have to make savings of £14.6 million over the course of the year.
As well as the review of the Wards Corner scheme, the Liberal Democrats called for business rates relief, the creation of a climate emergency task force, a fund to support youth projects and service improvements such as dementia hubs.
Cllr Adje claimed the council was already delivering many policies similar to those proposed by the Lib Dems.
On Wards Corner, he said: “There was a scrutiny review and a response to it. There was a policy advisory group review and a response to it.
“In terms of the financial implications for the council, have you thought about that? No, you haven’t.”
All the Liberal Democrat amendments were rejected by members of the majority Labour Group when put to the vote.
The council’s budget for 2020-21 was then passed, despite opposition from the Lib Dems.