Yesterday saw big, big demonstration outside the Haringey Civic Centre by the group of Asian women and the workers from the ‘I Can Care’ charity. Tonight there was to be a Haringey Labour Cabinet meeting to decide (or rather rubberstamp more likely) the proposal to sell the Civic Centre (supposedly for lots of dosh) and move to Woodside House.
Well – in terms of selling the Civic Centre – one might think that choosing the moment of financial downturn that this country is experiencing means the price ain’t exactly going to be the best.
But we do need loads more social housing and affordable rentals – and if they could get a good price; if they have looked at alternatives; if their business plan is spot on – then worth considering. However, the move to Woodside House, not only displaces this I Can Care charity – who work with mainly Asian women to teach them English, computer skills and movement classes – but will cost a fortune. Estimates are being thrown around at £12 million.
Question to local people: Do you think that Haringey Council should spend £12 million on a new council chamber for Members to meet in and a registry office?. Or is there something else you think on which that money could be usefully spent?
It’s a no-brainer. Councillors could meet in Bernie Grant Centre or there’s a dilapidated council chamber still at Hornsey Town Hall or any one of a number of meeting places in the borough. It would be great anyway – and symbolic – if the councillors came out of a building and held their Full Council meeting in various parts of the borough. And we would save a fortune.
In terms of meeting rooms and offices – well the Council took on River Park House a few years ago – a massive office block – so it really is just a replacement for the council chamber and a registry office.
Now – as to the way they have moved on this – disgraceful. Despite both myself and Robert Gorrie (Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Haringey Council) writing to Labour Leader George Meehan to ask about the process, the alternatives, the business plan and what they were doing about ‘I Can Care’ – no joy and no answer.
Although judging by the anger and rudeness George displayed as he sped past the demonstration on the steps of the Civic – he just wants to steamroller this through without ever consulting with anyone. You know – whatever you think about the proposals – to not engage, not to have the civility to talk to the current tenants of the building – is just typical of why people hate Haringey Council.
And – to add insult to injury – ‘I Can Care’ have another couple of years to go on their lease. They have poured over £100,000 into the little side building to make it nice for those who come there to learn, and George Meehan apparently offered £1,000 if they would leave – presumably quietly. You couldn’t make it up!