Lynne Featherstone MP slams Haringey Council’s budget plans

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone has slammed the budget plans put forward by Labour-run Haringey Council, which include cutting £30 million from the social care budget.

The £30 million constitutes half of the savings that the Council are expected to make, as part of reducing the overall deficit. Haringey Labour’s plans includes a £10 million reduction in care packages, the closure of the remaining residential home and more.

The Liberal Democrat MP has urged Haringey Labour leader, Claire Kober, to go back to square one and make changes in other departments, which would be more manageable, have less impact on vulnerable residents, and benefit the Borough in the long term.

The local MP’s views echo those of local carers groups and community figures, who are also calling on the Labour-run council to think again.

The Haringey Liberal Democrats are in agreement with the MP’s call – and have suggested cutting the Council’s communications budget, as one alternative way to save money.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“I’ve met with carers in the local area who have raised significant concerns about the £30 million the Council intends to cut from the social care budget.

“They are deeply concerned about the extra pressure this will place on carers and the impact on patients. They are also concerned about the lack of proper consultation on these plans, and the language used in the proposals – which often amounts to jargon.

“I share their concerns and believe that the savings could be made in a way which didn’t have such a terrible impact on the most vulnerable in Haringey.

“That’s why I am calling for a complete re-think of the budget, with proper engagement from all interested groups. I await a response from the Haringey Labour leader on whether she will do this.”

Deputy leader of the opposition on Haringey Council, Gail Engert, commented:

“The Haringey Lib Dems are behind Lynne’s call for a rethink. Haringey Labour have proposed sweeping cuts to the social care budget, regardless of the impact on vulnerable people.

“They have also failed to realise that cutting these services will not really save them any money – in fact it could cost them more. Many carers won’t be able to take up the additional work – meaning the Council will have to provide alternative social care at greater expense to themselves.

““The savings need to be made elsewhere. The council is still spending far too much on things like communications and the Haringey People magazine. And it was not that long ago that the Labour-run council wasted millions on bonus for home repairs.

“There needs to be a complete rethink of what the council spends money on.”

Lynne Featherstone MP supports Muswell Hill traders

 Lynne Featherstone MP meets with over 20 local traders to discuss the issues they face due to Haringey Council’s poorly planned road works.Lynne Featherstone MP last week met with over 20 local retailers, who have suffered a loss in trade of up to 60% due to Labour-run Haringey Council’s poorly planned road works.

The traders had little notice of the works, and are very dissatisfied with the way the works have been managed.

They asked the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green to help them with their demand for two months’ business rate refund from Haringey Council.

When the works began, the Lib Dem MP contacted Transport for London (TfL) bosses. TfL stated: ‘the Borough is the local Highway Authority and is therefore responsible for either promoting or coordinating this work,’ and suggested that the local MP contacted Haringey Council for an explanation.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green has arranged a meeting with the Haringey Council Chief Executive this Friday, where she will raise the traders’ concerns and business rates refund request.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“These road works have caused misery for residents, commuters, bus users and traders. Haringey Council gave minimal notice, they did not consult, and they chose the worst time of year to undergo these works.

“As a result, our local shops are seeing up to 60% losses in trade – and it just isn’t fair.

“Local Lib Dem action has already secured extra bus services from TfL. We’re also calling for free High Street parking between now and Christmas to help boost trade. On Friday, I’ll be meeting with the Chief Executive of Haringey Council, to pass on the traders request for a business rate refund.”

Lynne Featherstone MP reports local rubbish 'health and safety risk' to Haringey Council

Lynne Featherstone MP on Lordship Lane, with the pile of uncollected and dumped rubbish Local MP Lynne Featherstone has stepped up her call for better rubbish collections in Wood Green, following further complaints from local residents about the state of their streets. The call also follows the discovery of a pile of unsafe and festering rubbish on Lordship Lane.

The Liberal Democrat MP recently ran a survey for Wood Green residents, asking them to report problems. She has made dozens of representations on behalf of residents to the Labour-run council in the last few weeks alone.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green has made repeated calls for Labour-run Haringey Council to improve their services, and to fine their contractor if they fail to meet standards. So far, the Council have not done this.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Wood Green is a vibrant and diverse area, with a number of great community assets like parks, community centres and restaurants. But all too often, the area is blighted by piles of uncollected and dumped rubbish.

“On Sunday, I walked down Lordship Lane and noticed an awful pile of rubbish on the High Street, blocking residential doors. It was beyond unpleasant – it was a genuine health and safety risk.

“The Labour-run council and their contractor Veolia really must improve their service, so that visitors and residents alike can enjoy the area and its surroundings.”

Lynne Featherstone MP demands answers on council housing changes

Lynne Featherstone MP demands answers on council housing changesLocal MP Lynne Featherstone has contacted Haringey Council’s Chief Executive, to request information on the future of council housing in her constituency.

Residents in Noel Park and Bounds Green approached the Lib Dem MP, following news that the Labour-run council plans to sell off some of its council housing stock to private landlords, and demolish other homes

The affected areas in the MP’s constituency include homes on Park Grove, Durnsford Road, Tunnel Gardens and Blake Road in N11, homes on the Noel Park estate in N22, and land near Hillcrest in N6.

In her letter, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green demanded clarification from the Chief Executive, and put forward her view that no council housing stock should be sold off, without suitable replacements being built to house vulnerable local people.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“The waiting list for council housing is incredibly long and oversubscribed in Haringey. There are many vulnerable people that need decent homes to live in. We need more council housing – not less.

“But Labour-run Haringey Council haven’t built a single new council home in over 25 years, and now plan to sell off and demolish some of their existing housing stock.

“It is vital that residents are kept updated, and that no social housing stock is sold off without adequate replacement. I will continue to push the council for answers and campaign for improved or replacement council housing, rather than demolition and sell off.”

Haringey Council in (another) mess of their own making

Hornsey-Depot-265x360The controversial plans for Hornsey Depot have been challenged and halted – leaving Haringey Council with a £15m hole in their budget.

It’s another example of the Labour-run council failing to listen to residents and opposition councillors – with disastrous results.

Along with many residents and the Haringey Lib Dems, I raised concerns that the Hornsey Depot application was deeply flawed.

That’s why so many residents objected, and that’s why the Lib Dem opposition councillors voted against the application.

But instead of listening to concerns, local Labour councillors ignored our pleas and ploughed on regardless.

This has now prompted a Judicial Review of the plans, which could delay the development for a long time to come.

It’s also created a financial mess. Haringey Labour prematurely factored £15m from the sale of the Hornsey Depot into their budget, to ‘underpin’ the council’s capital for projects like new school buildings. So now they have a £15 million gap in their budget.

Banking on money that isn’t assured is the height of risky planning – and sadly, it will be local residents who suffer the consequences now the money isn’t available!

And Haringey Labour only have themselves to blame. If only they had listened from the start and taken a short time to agree an application that is both suitable and acceptable to residents – this could all have been avoided.

Once again, Haringey Labour have proved that they simply cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of the residents of Haringey.

Local people, local shops and local jobs matter!

In summer recess I always try to take up a special and extra mission– one that it is not possible to do timewise when Parliament is sitting.

One summer I visited on foot as many shops on our local high streets as I could. The single issue that shopkeepers raised with me – over and over and over again – were the problems that their customers had parking – particularly if it was literally to pop and shop for just a few items.

Not surprisingly with Labour run Haringey ramping up parking charges to £3.00 an hour in some high streets – their customers were going elsewhere. This was hitting our wonderful local high street shops extremely hard.

So my Liberal Democrat council colleagues in their manifesto for the council elections on Thursday came up with a pop and shop policy and have committed to the following:

To support our high streets, help shoppers and protect local jobs the Lib Dems will provide 30 minutes’ free parking on local high streets.’

We love our high streets and we want to support them fully. Of course – we also want people to walk, cycle and use their cars less. But what we don’t want is people who use their cars – to use them to drive further to places where they can park more cheaply or free – thus driving further and not bringing their custom to our local shops.

Our local communities are fantastic – and part of the reason people love living in them is because they have such wonderful local shops and traders. They are the heart of our local communities.

The Liberal Democrat group on the Council put a motion to Haringey Council last year to allow 30 minutes free parking. It is a scheme being adopted in other areas around the country and is working well. However Labour councillors voted it down.

These local elections on Thursday are an opportunity for people to vote Liberal Democrat and change Haringey for the better.

Housing matters!

Labour-run Haringey Council has not built any council housing for 25 years. Unforgivable!

So much of my casework is to do with housing. There isn’t nearly enough and people stay on Haringey’s housing list for years – living in overcrowded and sometimes absolutely terrible conditions.

It is not unusual for people to come to me in desperation over their living conditions to ask me to help get them moved. So often it is the parents worried about the children having to sleep several to a room and no place for a child to do homework or study – and years are spent in temporary accommodation just waiting and waiting for a home.

My Liberal Democrat council colleagues have committed in their manifesto to build the first new council homes in Haringey for 25 years. When Labour Haringey published its manifesto for these local elections (after the Liberal Democrat manifesto had been published of course) lo and behold – suddenly – Labour are promising to build houses.

Given they have been in power in Haringey for decades and haven’t built any council housing – not sure local people will believe this leopard is changing its spots!

There’s only one way to be sure – back the local Liberal Democrat team on Thursday with our consistent record of campaigning to tackle Haringey’s housing shortage.

Potholes matter!

Labour often make fun of how much interest I and my Liberal Democrat council colleagues take in potholes, pavements and rubbish bins. I don’t think it is funny. I think it is incredibly important that when you walk out of your home what you see around you is decent, clean and well-maintained – and all the more so if you are pushing a pram, using a wheelchair or otherwise have mobility problems.

It is also a very good sign of how well or how badly a council is run. After all – this is pretty basic stuff – and if you can’t even get that right…

On that measure alone, you would have to say that Labour run Haringey Council fails extraordinarily badly. It fails on many other levels – but today we are talking pavements and potholes!

The Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Haringey Council elections on Thursday commits an extra million pounds on resurfacing roads and pavements – because it really does matter.

Labour have been in power here in Haringey for over 40 years and still can’t manage to give local people the most basic of services – even though we pay one of the highest Council Taxes in London!

Vote Liberal Democrat in the local council elections on May 22 for a change for the better!


Paying for poor services

So much of the work that comes into my constituency office is about things that Labour-run Haringey Council has failed to do. The calls, emails or letters complaining about Haringey come in to me generally at the point that the local resident has tried (often many times) calling Haringey. When they cannot get a response – they come to me.

Sometimes they find they can’t even get an answer to a phone call (for over a year, Haringey shockingly failed to pick up the phone at all to 1 in 3 calls to its call centre). Sometimes people leave a message – and then they come to me because no-one calls back. If they are lucky enough to ever get an answer – he or she is passed around – and whatever the problem is – Haringey then doesn’t address or resolve the issue. And then they come to me.

If Haringey Council answered calls and took the proper action in the first place – people might not resent paying one of the highest Council Taxes in London.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to listen to people, answer their calls and address their issues properly. I do – and my office does. Obviously not everything is easily resolved – but this failure by Haringey Council to respect local people as those the council is there to serve is unacceptable, frustrating, disrespectful and wasteful – and hugely expensive.

Doing things properly first time round costs a lot less. That is just one of the reasons why Liberal Democrats have pledged in their Council Manifesto for the local elections on Thursday May 22 to freeze Council Tax for the next four years – with the aim of bringing the tax down to the London average. Currently under Labour, Haringey has the fifth highest Council Tax in London.

Richard Wilson, Liberal Democrat leader of Liberal Democrat group on Haringey Council, has published the fact that under the previous Labour Government, an average band D bill in Haringey rose by a whopping £474.34.

But, since 2010, Liberal Democrats in Government have actually given Haringey over £6m to enable them to freeze tax for residents, with £2m more promised. This, combined with relentless local Lib Dem campaigning, finally forced the Labour administration to freeze Council Tax. Good progress – but more to do!

Let's fix Haringey!

In my last column I wrote about the shocking and ongoing waste of taxpayers’ money by Labour-run Haringey Council. Many local residents have contacted me in response, expressing their dismay at the money spent on trips to Cannes and on bonuses – especially at a time when local Labour continuously complain about a lack of funds!

But I know that criticising local Labour isn’t enough to boot them out of power here. That’s why I am so delighted with the Haringey Liberal Democrats’ positive six point plan for our borough, which they have put forward in the run up to the local elections on May 22nd.

The local Lib Dems have promised to freeze Council Tax for four years. Over the past forty years, the Labour administration hiked up our bills by hundreds of pounds. The most recent freeze is down to local Lib Dem pressure, and the Lib Dems in Government offering councils extra money if they freeze Council Tax.

Lib Dems will freeze Haringey Council Tax

A Lib Dem council would also invest £1 million in our roads and pavements. After years of neglect by Haringey Labour – there are more potholes and cracked pavements here than you can count – and this needs fixing.

Labour can’t be trusted to prioritise this. Just last week, one of their candidates tweeted that no residents were complaining about potholes – showing just how out of touch they are!

Modern, energy efficient street lighting has also been promised. That’s good for the environment, it would help the police fight crime,and it would save the council money in the long term, too.

The local Lib Dems and I have long been campaigning for 30 minutes free parking on our high streets – after Labour hiked up charges to £3 an hour, putting off shoppers and harming our local high street traders. 30 minutes free is in the manifesto, too, and would be delivered by a Liberal Democrat council.

The local Lib Dems and I have also been campaigning for fairer health funding anda more effective children’s service department in Haringey.

The shocking child protection failures by Haringey Council – like Baby P, Victoria Climbie, and most recently Child T, must stop. And, having secured £7.6million extra in health funding, the local Lib Dems and I want to get even more. Having the Lib Dems in power in Haringey will help both causes.

Finally – the Haringey Lib Dems would take real action on housing – by building the first new council homes in Haringey for 25 years (that’s right – Haringey Labour haven’t built any during this time.)

All of these policies are fully-costed. We have identified£3 million of savings (per year) that can be made to the council’s budgets without hitting frontline services, just by cutting Haringey Labour’s current waste. There would be no bonuses for failure, or taxpayer-funded trips abroad with the Lib Dems in charge!

Haringey Liberal Democrat leader Richard Wilson, Lynne Featherstone MP, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Sarah London MEP – along with local Liberal Democrat candidates – back the campaign against Haringey Labour’s bonuses, yacht trips and waste.

And remember – it’s only the Lib Dems who can kick Labour out in Haringey – there are no Conservative, Green or UKIP councillors in the entire borough. Please make your vote count on May 22nd.