Labour Councilors agree Haringey Development Vehicle 29 to18 & to destroy Norhumberland Park Council Estate

24 January 2017

Labour Councilors agreed Haringey Development Vehicle last night by 29 votes to 18 & to destroy Northumberland Park Council Estate 

Dear Councillors of the London Borough of Haringey, 

I write as resident of the ward neighbouring Northumberland Park and a member of St Paul's Church, Park Lane Tottenham, which is in NPK ward.  I write to express my profound dismay at your vote last night in favour of the Haringey Development Vehicle. It will cause more misery on top of that which already exists in one of the most deprived wards in the UK. It does nothing to improve the circumstances of the poorest taxpayers. I understand it will be considered by the Cabinet on the 14th February and the Full Council on the 27th February 

Not only have you imposed the council tax and enforced it against the poorest residents since April 2013 you  are now giving them worse than nothing for it.  You will tare down their homes with no guarantee of continuing or returning to live in their communities. It is likely that many of them currently in council or social housing will be evicted in to the Private Rented Sector where poverty has doubled in the past ten years. A trend that cries out for rent controls. 

The  housing crisis of the poorest council tenants is now. You will make it worse if your plan goes through with no promise of improvement now or after the agony of ten years major building works., In ten years time the currently chaotic London housing market will still be exploited by national and international speculators to the detriment of most London residents unless the local authorities call a halt rather than jump in to bed with them.  

The alternative is to follow The Mayor of London with his exploration of land value tax. It brings into use unused land and cannot be put into overseas tax-free banks. It would enable the restoration of 100% council tax benefit and the refurbishment of Northumberland Park in the interests if its poorest residents. It would give all the residents London Borough of Haringey a share of the increased value of land as a result of Cross Rail. You will find supporting arguments in ten the index of which is on the Taxpayers Against Poverty website. 

Below are my responses to Claire Kober's letters to the Haringey Labour party's and to The Guardian. 

Yours sincerely, 

Paul Nicolson



Haringey Council proposes to force council tenants to take their hunger and deprivation anywhere else

I am not a member of any political party; I am required by my faith to work with and for the hungry and homeless, and with any one who will do the same. I was sent this letter from the leader of Haringey Council  by members of the labour party who oppose her plans to demolish council tenancies and leasholds without any guarantee of a future for the families in the London Borough of Haringey. The council is propsing to sell public land to the private sector  to make Tottenham look smarter at the expense of the poorest council tenants.  

My response to that is below the more recent reponse to Clare Kober's letter in The Guardian. 

Aditya Chakrbortty got it right his article in The Guardian, 

You destroy 980 homes because 20 are burgled? 

I have now had a chance to read your letter to the Guardian following Aditya'a Chakrabortty's correct reading of the impact of your HDV plans on the most vulnerable members of the Northumberland Park Community.  You write; 

"We are rebuilding a local school, improving open spaces and driving as much affordable housing out of these sites as we possibly can". No wonder it is impossible for you to confirm that every council tenant would be returned  their community should your plans go ahead. 

And may I endorse my comments in my letter to you about the way you insult the whole Northumberland Park Community not just to your own party but now in public.

You write; 

 "The Northumberland Park estate in north Tottenham, on which Aditya Chakrabortty based his well-meaning but misinformed story (Lives torn apart and assets lost: what this Labour privatisation would mean, 20 January) already endures levels of unemployment, crime and appalling poor health which no family should have to endure. I’m not going to accept that either." Through no fault of it own Northumberland Park is one of the most deprived communities in the UK. 

The amount of  "unemployment, crime and appalling poor health" is totally irrelevant to the decision to demolish the estate and has much to do with the low incomes, debts, hunger, low birth-weight and deprivation imposed by national and local government.   

Burglaries are measured in the numbers per 1000 households. The worst seems to be about 20 per 1000. So you destroy 980 homes because 20 are burgled?  

 In a list of London’s burglary hotspots in 2010 Haringey wards are second, third and fourth worst.


Second, Tottenham Green    21 cases per 1000 residents,

third St Ann’s                         20 cases and

fourth Haringay at                 19 cases.

The Cantelowes ward in Camden is worst in London with 24.  The safest homes in the capital were in the Eastbrook ward of Dagenham at 1.68 break-ins per 1000 residents.  



REACTION TO CLAIRE KOBER’S LETTER to the Haringey Labour Party.       Rev Paul Nicolson, 93 Campbell Road, N17 0BF

“Elected to represent the interests of renters and owners she has thrown in the towel to private money and stopped fighting for the renters on council property.”

1.The crisis is now. The councillors who promise growth in the future from the comfort a home they own, whose value increases annually, fail to acknowledge the crisis now facing renters whose incomes have at best remained static in real terms for five years while their rents have increased. The rents have escalated for two reasons; the cuts in housing benefit and the chaotic London housing market in short supply. The result is renters have less and less of their income available for food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities. Growth promises jam tomorrow when for an increasing number of Haringey tenants their problem is hunger today.

2. According to the 2011 census 58% of Haringey households are rented – today they desperately need affordable housing and adequate minimum incomes.  

3. Not once does Claire Kober admit that promising affordable housing is pie in the sky. Until national and local housing policies link rents to income the current crisis will worsen in the homes of renters.

4, Growth is not “the only option”. Growth and building new homes take too long. The crisis is now.

5. There are more than “two options” open to the council in the interests of renters other than sell the land to developers or put it into the HDV.  Refurbishment,  land value tax, abolish council tax or at least stop taxing the poorest unemployed residents, community land trusts. To build truly affordable housing the price of land needs to be separated from the cost of building and the profit of developers from land.  

6. Claire Kober is saying that the council is not competent to manage public land. “And councils are hopelessly ill-equipped to compete with the private sector for talent in the development sector.” Elected to represent the interests of renters and owners she has thrown in the towel to private money and stopped fighting for the renters on council property.

7. There are a number of questions about the 50% split.

  • Is it wise to put 100% of public land into the HDV in stages and only receive 50% of the value of the peoples land?
  • Who would value the peoples land?
  • Why is the council, for all practical purposes, giving away control of land it was elected to manage?
  • After the developers have received the land they will always have the whip hand because they have the money; their chartered surveyors will decide the fewest possible affordable homes to increase the profits for which the least the better. 
  • Why should we give the kind and generous developers 50% when we could have given them 49% and kept control?
  • Once the land has gone it has gone for ever.
  • Once the HDV is set up it seems that there is nothing to stop the private partner or the council selling their 50% into the open market. It would need a restrictive covenant.

8. The demonization of Northumberland Park Residents to justify the HDV is the nastiest kind of politics. Iain Duncan Smith used scroungers and skivers it to justify stopping the incomes of the unemployed. Claire Kober uses demonization to demolish their homes.

  • “But we cannot pretend all is well.  I cannot accept the levels of unemployment, poor health and crime which we currently see there” she writes; and
  • “some housing estates have high concentrations of the most vulnerable people, creating appalling levels of deprivation, crime and poor prospects.  No one should have to live in a neighbourhood like that”. Northumberland Park has fantastic potential. 
  • The home of a criminal serving a prison sentence is not destroyed because of the crime, because his/her family is living in it.
  • Immediately next door, the transformational investment in the Spurs stadium and the arrival of NFL will change the way people perceive the area.  Crossrail 2 will turn a criminally under-served station into a high-speed connection to central London. 
  • “I am equally clear that we can only transform the lives of Northumberland Park’s residents by changing the shape of Northumberland Park” she writes. Sadly this is nonsense. A child born in Northumberl;and Park low birthweight with life time mental and physical consequences to a mother who could not afford a healthy diet while she was pregnant, due to low income and high rents,  will remain ill wherever he or she lives. The council is aware that the incidence of low birthweight in Northumberland Park at 10.4% is well above the national average 8% and the European average of 6.4%.  

7. She writes the only answer for 3000 families currently homeless in Haringey is “I’m sorry to say is a move away from London”. The council takin ghe easy option for themselves;  makes the tenants suffer. 

8. “We will always aim to rehouse any resident who wants to stay in a new home in the same area”. “Aim” is not good enough – the residents who want to stay must be given a guarantee if the Haringey Development Vehicle (HFV) goes forward .