To Councillor Alan Strickland & other Labour Councillors supporting the Haringey Development Vehicle

1 April 2017

Councillor Alan Strickland, Cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration, has had a go at me in the Huffington Post after my article about the Haringey Developlment Vehicle (HDV) in the Huffington Post. 

Here is my reply. 

 

VIABILITY

Sadly the council intends bolstering an abuse of the housing market which has wrecked the personal finances and health of the poorest citizens of the UK, and the economy, with ever higher higher debts, prices and rents, while allowing land owners national and international property speculators to get ever richer and park trillions tax free in overseas banks. 

He has not explained to the readers of the Huffington post, or the residents of Haringey, what Lend Lease said to him in Cannes which exonerated him from handing over £2 billions worth of council land and other assets to form the HDV with Lend Lease. That is an international property development company which has had to pay $56 million in the USA to avoid prosecution for corruption and which owns a company the Channel Islands tax havens. 

Nowhere does he tell the readers of the Huffington Post that the number of affordable homes in his plans depends on viability.

In the minutes of the Cabinet dated Tuesday 19th October 2016 "Cllr Strickland provided a reminder that the 40% target of affordable housing was subject to viability... the cost of developments makes it difficult to meet this target". 

The fewer affordable homes the better for the profits of Lend Lease and the HDV. (I strongly advise you to read the  Stephen Hill MRICS* blog on the TAP website to which is added a supportive report from Professors Professor Sarah Sayce BSc, PhD, FRICS, IRRV  and Professor Neil Crosby PhD, ARICS). 

Calculations of viability are done in the interests of land owners and builders making a profit not in the public interest in a  very substantial increase in the supply of affordable housing. 

It is in the interests of the profitability of Lend Lease, and legally required by their shareholders, that there should be the fewest possible affordable homes replacing the affordable homes of the council tenants and lease holders. 

On the other hand Councillors have a responsibility for the public interest in providing a very substantially increas in the number of affordable homes.  

On whose side will the council members of the HDV be? On the side of public/constituents/tenants/leaseholders interests or on the side of the profits of Lend Lease in their shareholders' interests? The leader of the council, Cllr Claire Kober, has boasted about the council sharing the profits of the HDV

Residents, taxpayers and electors of Haringey have never been presented with the full details of the HDV proposal to enable a rational response in a formal consultation. There was no mention of the proposed HDV in the Labour party manifesto at the 2014 council elections. This is a fight about democracy. 

He says; "Tottenham already endures levels of unemployment, crime and appalling poor health which no family should have to endure. We’re not prepared to turn a blind eye to this - our job is to do what we can to change it". 

That betrays a catastrophic lack of understanding of the link between ill health and low incomes. 

Demolishing people's homes will not find them a job, increase their incomes, end their hunger or reduce their debts therefore it will not improve their health. 

Bribing tenants to leave with "compensation" will be a short term palliative most likely be used to pay off rent arrears and council tax arrears owed to the council and other debts. Then their situation will continue to worsen.  The lowest incomes after housing costs, like those in Northumberland Park are set to fall during the demolition period. Please study the graph below. 

Unemployment benefits have been shredded by central government and taxed by the council.  The number of impoverished families and individuals in work continues to grow. It all leads to inevitable debt and hunger followed by mental and physical health problems. None of that will no be changed by Strickland's plans. 

When the most deprived people are forced to leave most deprived ward in Haringey they will still be the most deprived people somewhere in the UK. 

Sadly the council intends bolstering an abuse of the housing market which has wrecked the personal finances and health of the poorest citizens of the UK, and the economy, with ever higher higher debts, prices and rents.  

Yours sincerely, 

Rev Paul Nicolson. 

* Member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

 

 


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