Leading Haringey Councillors are trying to jump on a driver-less bandwagon which will crash on UK land, writes Rev Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty.
The Haringey Labour Manifesto for the 2014 election told us: “Forecasts suggest that Haringey should expect to face a further reduction of at least £50 million in its core grant. Added to demographic pressures and growing demand in many service areas, there is an ongoing challenge to do more and better with less money. We believe that even in difficult times, it is not the job of politicians to manage decline. Instead our challenge is to find new and different ways to generate income, promote economic growth, build more resilient communities and provide services.”
It also told us “We will deliver over 1,000 more affordable homes including 250 new council homes.” What the manifesto did not tell us was that Councillors, like other Councillors throughout London, were already in touch with Lend Lease, an international development company which had paid $56 million in the USA to avoid pros- ecution for corruption and has a company in the Channel Islands tax haven.
It is clear now that: “New and different ways to generate income” means something like ‘giving Lend Lease a nice little earner’ by forming with them the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) and handing it £2bn of public land and assets and demolish council estates, Hornsey Town Hall, a Nursing Home and Play centres.
“Build more resilient communities” means ‘after the riots replace benefit claiming tenants with people who can afford to buy or rent their their homes at market prices.’ The final report of the Riots Community and Victims Panel “After the Riots” mentions “resilience” 56 times and “poverty” five times.
Its recommendations included, “building economic and personal resilience” but none about reducing poverty. This is like saying hunger is due to a lack of resilience. Poverty is worse now than it was in August 2011.
“Deliver over 1,000 more affordable homes including 250 new council homes” means ‘demolishing over 1,000 council homes with truly affordable rents and replacing them with homes rented at 80% of the average market rent.’
I have asked the external auditor to write a report in the public in- terest or to apply to the High Court for a declaration that it is unlawful. The emerging tragedy of the HDV is that leading councillors have misread the signs of the times. Leading Haringey councillors are trying to jump on a driver-less bandwagon which will crash on UK land.
Councillors have misread the signs of the times
In the UK, the free market in land has proved unsustainable. The current UK housing disaster began when the 1979 Thatcher government deregulated lending, abolished rent controls and allowed the free flow of cash in and out of the UK. Money flooded a housing market in short supply. Rents and prices escalated and the cost of housing benefit rose with the market. The 1997 Blair and Brown government let it rip. 10 years ago the banks crashed. Cameron and Osborne continued to encouraged the national and international demand for UK land, the quantity of which has been limited by nature.
In the UK, the free market in land has proved unsustainable
We are due for another crash next year because local and national gov- ernment have learnt nothing. Meanwhile benefit claimants, low income tenants of all tenures carry the burdens of governmental myopia with shredded national benefits, paying rent and council tax since 2013, and enforced with the addition of court costs and bailiffs fees, and now record evictions.
For more information about the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) visit: haringey.gov.uk/regeneration/haringey-development-vehicle