Haringey Council ignores 90% of residents in Stroud Green parking consultation

Haringey Council has ignored the views of almost 90% residents who responded to a consultation about the removal of parking space on Woodstock Road, Stroud Green.

The controversial proposals means that a dozen parking spaces previously reserved for local residents will be turned over for the sole use of businesses.

In the initial consultation 8 of 9 local residents responding objected to the proposal. Nevertheless, Haringey Council has ignore their views and proceeded with the original proposal to statutory consultation, the final stage before implementation of any parking changes.

Commenting Councillor Ed Butcher says:

“It is outrageous that Haringey Council is completely ignoring the wishes of the local residents. This Labour-led council should stop using the word consultation because they clearly don’t know what it means. They simply don’t know how to listen”

Councillor Richard Wilson, Stroud Green councillor and Deputy Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“What makes me angry about this latest parking scandal is that it has nothing to do with the real parking problems of our area.

“Hundreds of residents are crying out for action because there are severe parking problems in streets outside the CPZ parking, yet Haringey Council is steamrollering through changes elsewhere when a clear majority does not want them. There is simply no rhyme or reason.”

Stroud Green Liberal Democrats carried out a recent parking survey in the area outside that Control Parking Area that confirmed two thirds of people thought action was needed from the Haringey Council.

Christmas cheer for Stroud Green after snub from Haringey Council scrooges

Despite the annual refusal by Haringey Council to fund Christmas lights, Stroud Green Road and Finsbury Park will, once again, be dazzling with Christmas cheer this year thanks to neighbouring Islington Council.

The Liberal Democrat Leader of Islington Council announced that Stroud Green Road and Finsbury Park would receive funding for Christmas lights – marking the second consecutive year when Haringey Council have failed to contribute to the area’s festivities.

Local Liberal Democrats have warmly welcomed the move by Islington Council and have pointed out that this is further evidence of Labour’s neglect for the Finsbury Park area.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Labour Cllr Gina Adamou had failed to attend any meetings of a board set up to regenerate the Finsbury Park area and Haringey Council slashed budgets for street sweeping.

Cllr Ed Butcher (Stroud Green) comments:

“This Christmas is going to be difficult enough for shops and restaurants on Stroud Green Road without more wilful neglect from Haringey Council. We are pleased to have secured a bit of festive cheer to encourage customers and raise our area’s status. We are determined to do all that we can to help local businesses through this recession.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Stroud Green is one of the most vibrant areas in Haringey yet it is neglected year after year by this Labour administration. I’m glad that once again Islington have made Stroud Green‘s Christmas wishes come true.”

Red faces on domestic flights issue

Stunned Labour councillors seemed unaware on Monday night of the information revealed by the Liberal Democrats about Haringey Council’s use of domestic flights. Gasps from the public gallery greeted Liberal Democrat Cllr Ed Butcher’s revelations that, despite a promise to not use domestic flights for council business, 17,038 miles were travelled on flights within the UK in the past two years.

At last night’s Full Council meeting councillors debated a motion to agree to support the Friends of the Earth campaign to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2020. Liberal Democrats highlighted Labour’s failure on the environment and tackling climate change – the broken promise on domestic flights was given as an example of this failure.

Liberal Democrats have now demanded details of when the flights were taken, who travelled, the destination and the cost to the taxpayer.

Cllr Ed Butcher (Stroud Green) comments:

“It was red faces all round in the Labour Group. Embarrassed Labour councillors seemed unaware that their own policy had been broken and this is an example of their lack of grip on this council’s administration.

”The serious issue is that, once again, Labour has said that they will stop the use of domestic flights for council business yet they have broken their promise.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Local residents will not be able to believe a word Haringey Labour says about the environment. Their green credentials are now dead in the water.”

Stroud Green parking survey

My Lib Dem council colleagues from Stroud Green ward (Ed Butcher, Laura Edge and Richard Wilson) have launched their parking survey on the internet to gain further views from local residents.

They’d already begun a door-to-door survey in response to news that Haringey Council were delaying plans to review the Finsbury Park Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) until at least 2010. Curses on the dreaded Haringey Council – can they do nothing right? When you go door-to-door, not everyone is in etc, so hopefully this online survey will reach out further

If you’d like to take part in the survey, go to http://survey.libdems.org.uk/take/611.

Now you see it, now you don't – Labour and allowances

Now you see it (Labour taking bigger allowances on Haringey Council) – now you don’t – because they’ve tried to hide it in extra Special Responsibility Allowances rather than an overall rise for all their councillors!

The reality though is that Labour have actually awarded themselves £44,751 in extra allowances – through the back door. What Labour have done is vote unanimously for the total of their Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) to be increased from £676,533 last year to £721,284 this year. In contrast, the Liberal Democrat councillors on Haringey are committed to cutting the number of SRA positions altogether.

This news goes against Council Leader Cllr Claire Kober’s comments that Haringey Council should tighten its belt and “any savings can go straight into providing essential services for the people of Haringey.”

As my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Ed Butcher said: “The Labour leader has been quoted as saying councillors should tighten their belts too in this financial crisis. Well, this looks like they sadly added a few extra notches instead.”

(There’s more on this story on my website and on Liberal Democrat Voice.)

What happened at Haringey Council last night?

As I wasn’t actually at the Haringey Full Council last night – watching via webcast instead – I asked Ed Butcher, one of the local Liberal Democrat councillors and my Head of Office, if he would write a guest blog to cover the meeting properly. Here it is:

Opposition means lots of things, but one thing I hadn’t fully appreciated until last night’s council meeting is the physicality of being in opposition. As Labour councillor after Labour councillor voted in hollow and weak voices to keep George Meehan and Liz Santry in post, not one of them was able to look us in the eye. Their sorrow and weariness was apparent, but they defiantly limped on.

At times like this you have to ask what you would have done differently. I simply do not accept Haringey Labour’s excuses. After over 40 years of running the borough, I don’t think they fully appreciate the culture of silence, stonewalling and secrecy that exists. This is what we would change. But, the real story is that I don’t think they really know what’s going on themselves.

Haringey Labour councillors have become so trusting and reliant on the advice of their officers that they have become incapable questioning it. With governance should come a healthy scepticism about what you’re being told. Having seen the Director of Children Service speak after the verdict, the public can make up their own mind as to the quality of that advice.

The culture of secrecy pervades the organisation. People who worked in Haringey child protection services have come forward with alarming stories claiming that they were told to shut up when they tried to raise concerns. This goes right to the top, where I know there have been attempts to bully and threaten my council colleagues into silence rather than welcome our independent scrutiny.

Even in last night’s meeting, probably the most public meeting our council has ever had, the Labour whip could not help themselves from shutting down the debate. We tabled two important motions. One was a vote in no confidence in the leader and the executive member for children’s services. The second was a motion to stop any compromise deals. Haringey has a dark history in paying off its staff to silence them – most notably a former Chief Executive whose departure cost £1m. The purpose of this motion was clear. There should only be two ways for any officer to leave following this. Either they resign of their own accord or they are sacked for gross incompetence. Not a penny of council tax money should be used to buy their silence. So with only 15 minutes of the council meeting left, the Labour whip accused us of talking for too long and decided it was far more important to move on to other business, such as appointment to outside bodies, rather than use the remaining time to discuss compromise deals. Plus ça change…

At the council meeting we were told that we could be reassured because of a litany of actions since the death of Baby P. There have been reviews, training, external checks, and now a further inspection. None of this has been open to scrutiny, none of them public. Not much of an assurance.

I asked Councillor Santry what she had done to review matters. She seemed to think an intermittent committee reviewing targets was enough. It says it all really.

I have little doubt there will be a blood letting and they will resign following the inspection report. But I wasn’t voting for change of face at the top, I was voting for a change of culture. I only hope the process the Government have imposed can deliver this. My fear is a stage managed departure will leave much unchanged and our at risk children at even greater risk.

Election night

Well – the must have invite of the year – to the American Embassy on election night! I got there about 10.30pm – which is a really late start for an early to bed early to rise sort of a geek like me. However – the general excitement of the potential of the night worked its magic and I managed to stay there until around 2am.

So – what’s it like? Incredibly well organised – as American official entertaining always is. Obviously disappointed to find that there were around 1,499 other invitees – but hey. Amongst said invitees the celebs I noticed (or rather my escort for the evening Ed Butcher – local Liberal Democrat councillor for Stroud Green and my Head of Office pointed out) were: Matt Damon (except I think later this proved to be someone else famous who I had never heard of; Janet Street-Porter, Alistair Campbell, lots of MPs and ministers etc, broadcasters like Jonathan Dimbleby (brother David obviously busy on air) and Nick Robinson, Andrew Rawnsley and lots and lots of others I am sure.

Peter Lord, who had kindly invited me (he is the American officer designated with attending to Liberal Democrats politically speaking) said that Madonna and Gwyneth had been invited – but declined. Their loss, our gain!

Anyway – as I said – Americans do these things well. There were flashing lit American flag badges for the Embassy staff so you knew who to approach to ask any questions. There were stars and stripes hats and tiaras – which I didn’t manage to get hold of. There was a Burger King serving hamburgers, fries and a vegetarian option, a Subway – and loads of drinks bars as well as circulating, fill your glass sir waiters and canapes continually appearing. Well done for hospitality. And there were bands like part of Squeeze and others – not to mention on arrival, cheerleaders outside doing pretty stunning acrobatics!

Then, of course, there were screens everywhere and a big armchaired film theatre where you could go and watch coverage in seated comfort. It was quite difficult to follow what was happening as sound (or rather lack of it) was an issue. However, having studied various screens, I was able to follow what was happening – and it was pretty amazing as it became clear pretty early on that it was going Obama’s way and that the ‘Bradley effect‘ was nowhere to be seen.

So – all great fun – and even I enjoyed it and actually talked to people. I am not a party person to be honest. Give me one to one over dinner – that’s the conversation I am best at. However, I did alright. At 2am I decided that it was time to go home and watch the rest on telly with my daughters – which is what I did.

I must have drifted off at about 3.30am – but my older daughter this morning said something very interesting – and she is extremely perceptive and analytical. She ended up watching ITV’s coverage until 6am this morning because she said it was excellent. She said it was direct, unembellished, used eloquent and knowledgeable presenters, didn’t dress it up with lots of irrelevant stuff and was intelligible and intelligent. She said BBC was overdone and confusing – and CNN was nothing but adverts. Broadcast companies take note.

As for the result! It would have been deadly to wake up and find McCain as President Elect – that much I know. As a Hillary supporter – I moved my allegiance to Obama – with qualifications. He certainly inspires and I don’t think I have ever heard a politician with that level of ability in terms of oratory. So it was good to wake up to a new era – but proof and pudding will be the real test – and that is yet to come.