Objection to Haringey’s 2017/18 accounts - failure to comply with duty as landlords to maintain the homes of council tenants

2 July 2018

BDO London, 55 Baker Street, London,  W1U 7EU

 BDO are the external auditors of the accounts of the London Borough of Haringey. - In 1963 Messrs Binder. Dijke and Otte founded BDO international.  In their  2016/17 accounts  underlying revenues exceeded £428m and profits increased 11% to £87m. They are paid by Haringey Council to investigate Haringey Council. I will draw their attention to the conflict of interest. 

Objection to Haringey Council's 2017/18 accounts

From 10 am on Friday 1 June 2018 until 4 pm on Thursday 12 July 2018 ​as a local ​​government elector for the area of the London Borough of Haringey, I​  may object to the London Borough of Haringey's accounts asking ​ BDO to​ issue a report in the public interest or apply for a declaration that an item in the accounts is contrary to law (under section 27 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014). 
 
I am asking BDO to audit Haringey Council's compliance with their duty as landlords to use the rent collected from tenants to maintain the council's property in a condition which is fit for habitation​.  It is alleged that the council deliberately reduced the maintenance of the council's tenancies with a view to demolishing them and selling the extremely valuable land under the homes of their tenants and to replace council tenancies with expensive home ownership. 
 
The background to this objection is as follows - taken from a write up in The Guardian. 

The London Borough of Haringey wants to demolish two blocks on the Tottenham estate after safety tests carried out following the Grenfell Tower fire showed they were vulnerable to collapse if a gas pipe or gas canister explodes or a vehicle strikes the base of the buildings.

The residents of Tangmere House, a six-storey block, will be evacuated starting immediately and have been told they will “only receive one suitable offer [of alternative housing] which they must not unreasonably refuse”. That has caused confusion and anger among residents about where they will end up living. They have been told the gas will be switched off in October, by which time they must be out.

The residents of Northholt, an 18-storey block that failed the same tests, will start being evacuated next year and residents are speculating that the council may want to demolish more of the estate.

Nine other blocks on the estate also failed tests that showed that if there was a gas pipe explosion the buildings could suffer progressive collapse. The council has already replaced gas cookers with electric cookers in those 725 flats and has installed gas interrupter valves, which shut off the gas in the event of a leak.

CLARIFICATION sent to BDO

What happened to the rents paid by the tenants that were not spent on repairs and maintenance, which the council is under a legal duty to perform? 

This is to clarify my objection to Haringey's 2017/18 accounts. It covers all land in which Haringey Council is the landlord to council tenants and leaseholders.  For example the Northumberland Park Estate is in a poor state of repair. I therefore refer you to Para's 44 - 48 of the Haringey's Tenancy Agreement - Council's rights and responsibilities. 

Council's rights and responsibilities

44 The Council is responsible for repairs, you have the right to have the repairs done within a reasonable period of time you might be able to get compensation if we do not do some repairs on time.  
 
45 The Council must keep the structure and outside of the property (including, drains, gutters and outside pipes) in repair.
 
46 The Council must keep in repair and proper working order it installations for space heating, water heating, drainage and sanitation and for the supply of water, gas and electricity.
 
47 The Council is responsible for regularly decorating the outside of all properties and the communal areas outside the blocks and converted houses.
 
48. If you meet the Council's criteria you are entitled to certain additional repairs and decoration
 
What happened to the rents paid by the tenants that were not spent on repairs and maintenance, which the council is under a legal duty to perform? 
 
I also draw your attention to some remarks about the land on which the tenants of Kensington and Chelsea live reported in the Guardian.  
 
Barry Quirk, who took over as CEO in Kensington and Chelsea one week after the fire in June 2017, made a comment in a private meeting with Grenfell United, the survivors’ group. One of its leading members, Edward Daffarn, told the House of Commons housing select committee;

“Think about that,” Daffarn told the MPs. “They were property developers masquerading as a local authority. They failed to keep us safe because they had higher priorities – getting their hands on the land, this massive goldmine they had.” The council said it accepted Daffarn’s remarks and agreed. 

We have the same neglect of a council's duties to their tenants and leaseholders in Haringey on all land owned by the council, hence this objection to their 2017/18 accounts.

As a matter of courtesy I should tell you that I am referring these issues to the Labour Party inquiry into the Carillion collapse which is also covering the performance of accountants auditing local authorities.. 

 

 

TAP DEPENDS ON SUPPORTERS - PLEASE CONSIDER A

MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION - THANKS

from the Rev Paul Nicolson

 


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