Nick Clegg backs Haringey Lib Dems to end local Labour waste

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg visited Wood Green today, to visit the local Cypriot Community Centre and to back the Haringey Lib Dems in their local election campaign.

The Deputy Prime Minister was greeted by local MP Lynne Featherstone, before having a tour of the centre and talking to the residents who use it. He also discussed the management of the centre with the team.

Nick Clegg then joined some of Haringey’s local Liberal Democrat candidates, to discuss the upcoming local elections. The local Lib Dem team want to take control of Haringey Council on May 22nd, to stop Labour’s wasteful spending and implement their own, positive six-point plan.

aringey 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.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg MP said:

“It was fantastic to come to Haringey and meet the wonderful people at the Cypriot Centre. It’s a great example of a community centre which does so much good for so many people, but could use a little extra support to keep it going.

“I am backing the local Liberal Democrat campaign to take control of Haringey Council on May 22nd, after 40 years of Labour misrule. It’s appalling that Haringey Labour has wasted so much money here, on bonuses and a trip to the South of France. Local residents deserve better than that.

“A Liberal Democrat led council in Haringey would stop this kind of awful waste, and provide more support to centres like the one I visited today.”

Haringey Lib Dem leader Richard Wilson said:

“I’d like to thank Nick Clegg for backing our campaign and doing all he can to highlight Haringey Labour’s waste.

“Haringey Labour like to hide from their local record, whereas the local Lib Dems are very proud of ours. We will keep working all year round for local residents and, if we take control of the Council on May 22nd, we will be working hard to implement our positive six point plan, too.”

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome Nick Clegg to Haringey, and to show him one of the best run community centres the borough has to offer. I’d also like to thank Chris and Susie for hosting us.

“Like Nick, I am fully behind the local Liberal Democrat campaign. For years I have battled to hold Labour to account – and it has become clearer and clearer that change is needed. The Liberal Democrat team have a positive, six point plan to fix our borough, and I hope residents will back them.”

Labour’s control of Haringey Council must end!

Here’s my latest Ham and High column – on why Haringey Council needs to change. 

A few weeks ago, the Broadway exposed the cost of Haringey Council’s trip to Cannes in South France. It was three times more than the council originally stated. So, not only did they use taxpayers’ money for the jaunt, they didn’t tell us the truth about the cost, either.

This is just one of the reasons why I believe that Labour’s control of Haringey Council needs to end.

Those on the trip were two senior council officials and one Labour councillor – who is responsible for housing in the borough. They went to meet organisations like Tottenham Hotspur.

Residents are rightly angry – if Haringey has wanted to meet with Tottenham, they could have got on a W3 from outside the civic centre and saved the taxpayer thousands.

But despite the controversy and reaction, the Labour council leader (who authorised it all) is still defending the whole trip, and its cost to the public purse.

Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is what we have come to expect from Labour-run Haringey Council – ignoring residents, whilst providing bad services and wasting money.

Just a few months ago, we discovered that the council had authorised £3.7million in bonuses for housing staff at Homes for Haringey. At the same time, hundreds of residents were contacting me, and asking for help with getting decent repairs.

On the Noel Park estate – the area ‘represented’ by the Labour councillor who went on the trip – residents are in such desperate need, that I called a public meeting so that Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey could hear the problems first hand.

The Labour councillor declined the invitation to attend the public meeting – another let down for local residents he is supposed to represent.

The waste is not just confined to the housing sector. On our local roads, we’ve seen yellow lines repainted days before the entire road was dug up for resurfacing. Just last week the Labour-run council introduced a new roundabout, with the arrows painted the wrong way round. All of these mistakes add up – and it’s the taxpayer who ultimately pays.

There is another way. Labour’s control of the council is not absolute. And on May 22 this year, Haringey residents get the chance to vote Labour out.

The Haringey Lib Dems have been working hard all year round for residents, and will shortly be releasing their manifesto. It’s packed full of great proposals which would greatly improve our local services, our local area and our borough as a whole! And all of these would be funded by cutting Haringey Labour’s waste.

For me the choice – between a Labour party who have mismanaged our borough for 40 years, and the local Lib Dems, who want to work with residents to fix Haringey – is easy. I know who I’ll be voting for on May 22!

Urgent repairs and improvements needed at Sky City

Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone and local Wood Green campaigner Roberto Robles discuss the issues with residents – and see some of the problems for themselves.Lynne Featherstone MP last week visited Sky City– a housing complex above the Mall in Wood Green – to help the residents secure vital improvements to their living conditions.

Residents of Sky City contacted the Hornsey and Wood Green MP recently, to express their frustration and anger at Metropolitan Housing, the company that manages Sky City.

On the site visit, the MP saw piles of uncollected rubbish, broken lighting and problems with drainage in communal areas.

Residents also reported problems with vermin, with disability access because of broken lifts, and with antisocial behaviour and crime.

Residents have sent a petition to Metropolitan, demanding a meeting and detailed plan for repairs and improvements. The meeting has been agreed to, but no date has been set. The Liberal Democrat MP has now also contacted Metropolitan on behalf of the residents, to pile on the pressure for action.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“Metropolitan need to take action, and fast. What I saw on my visit to Sky City was just appalling – there was uncollected rubbish strewn everywhere. The broken lighting is not helping the situation with crime and antisocial behaviour – and there should always be easy access for disabled and elderly residents.

“Residents should not have to live like this. I am fully behind them and will support them every step of the way to secure the vital repairs they need. I have already contacted Metropolitan, and will continue to do so until we see results.”

Lib Dem survey on Lordship Lane betting shop launched

the Woodside Liberal Democrat team, Kirsty Allan, Roxy Squire, Lynne Featherstone and Craig BrownLynne Featherstone and the Wood Green Liberal Democrats last week launched a survey, to find out local residents’ views on the opening of yet another betting shop on Lordship Lane.

A number of residents have contacted the Liberal Democrats expressing concern about the number of betting shops on the road, and the impact on local crime and antisocial behaviour.

The local Liberal Democrats are now trying to persuade the Labour-run council that another betting shop is wrong for this community.  The application could be rejected if it can be proven that local betting shops are a cause of crime.

The Wood Green Liberal Democrat team will be writing to Haringey Council in response to the planning application shortly, to fully represent the views of over 100 residents who have filled in their survey.

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“Over the years, many residents have contacted me with concerns about anti social behaviour in the Wood Green area. The Haringey Lib Dems and I are committed to helping fight crime in our local area.

“I am fully behind the Wood Green Lib Dems. Together we will make sure the Labour-run Council is aware of residents’ views on this matter.”

Wood Green campaigner Roxy Squire commented:

“As a local Wood Green resident, I am aware that anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area. My colleagues and I are concerned that some of that behaviour is a consequence of the large number of betting shops.

“Local residents don’t want or need yet another betting shop on Lordship Lane. We want to persuade the Labour-run council that another betting shop is wrong for this community – but we need residents’ support.

“That’s why we’ve launched our survey, and I hope as many residents as possible respond.”

Ben Summerskill couldn't be more wrong

Ex CEO of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, is in the news for calling Liberal Democrats ‘cynical’ in our initiation and championing of same sex marriage. He says it was all because this was to put clear water between ourselves and the Conservatives.

As the instigator and architect of same sex marriage  – I can say that Summerskill could not be more wrong.

In fact – the opposite is true. One of the key factors in making me think I could get same sex marriage on the statute books was the very fact that the Conservatives were desperate to leave their poor track record on matters homosexual behind. I thought they would be keen to prove this. I was right – both Theresa May and David Cameron were staunch in their support. What I had not predicted (and I suspect David Cameron had not predicted) was the huge rift within the Conservative ranks which ensued.

Mr Summerskill’s comments almost certainly have more to do with his misery at this most recent step coming from the Liberal Democrats than anything else. It has now been well-documented by Peter Tatchell and many others – that Stonewall under Ben’s stewardship was against same sex marriage.

However, when I had Ben in to see me when I started on my mission, to ask for his support. He did in the end change Stonewall’s position . I am extremely glad he did change his position – but reading all the recent comments it would seem that was because he had no alternative.

I met with all the key stakeholders, campaigners and activists in the early days to ask for support. Everyone put their egos aside and we all worked together to deliver what now is the law.

Stonewall does a huge amount of excellent work – and it is a great pity that Summerskill has damaged the brand by his comments. The acting CEO Ruth Hunt is great – and I have no doubt will take Stonewall forward in a much better way than before.

In terms of same sex marriage I lay the credit at the doors of those who suffered and those who fought this battle over the years. Moreover, without civil partnerships and all the campaigners who have fought over the years for equality and came together in the same sex marriage campaign  – this most recent and significant step forward could not have taken place.

But equality is part of the Liberal Democrat DNA – and we have our rightful place among these campaigners. And for me it is probably one of the best things I will ever do as a politician.

Currently I am a Minister in DFID with Africa in my patch. As you can imagine – in terms of LGBT issues – there is so much work to be done. See my recent blog on this here. And there is still much to do on our own streets and in our own schools. Same sex marriage is certainly a great step forward – but quite frankly – this is no time to let up.



Joining the CrossSafe campaign for road safety

Lynne Featherstone MP discusses the safety issues at the Junction with local CrossSafeN10 campaignersLynne Featherstone MP last week met with CrossSafe N10 campaigners to discuss the problems with the junction on Alexandra Park Road, Colney Hatch Lane, and Pages Lane.

The residents have long been campaigning for better safety on and around the junction.

On the site visit, the residents described the problems faced on a daily basis – including drivers not realising that there is a second red light and driving through, pedestrians not being able to see oncoming traffic, poor phasing of traffic lights, and no ‘green man’ signalling to guide pedestrians.

Campaigners say that these problems pose a safety risk – and that they have seen many near misses.

The Liberal Democrat MP – who has previously made representations on this issue – has now written again to both Transport for London and Haringey Council (who share management of the junction) and requested a site visit with them and the local residents.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“These residents have done a fantastic job of raising awareness of this issue and campaigning for better road safety at this dangerous junction.

“I am happy to get involved to support their cause. I have now written again to both TfL and Haringey Council, demanding a meeting with them on site so they can see the problems for themselves.

“I hope this will lead to action – vast improvements on this junction may well be necessary to prevent a serious accident here in the future.”

Join our call for urgent repairs to the Noel Park estate

Here’s my weekly Ham and High column – this time on the urgent need for repairs to the Noel Park estate – which the local Council are ignoring. 

Last week I held a public meeting in a part of my constituency which has been neglected by Haringey Council for decades.

Council properties on the Noel Park estate have not had any substantial repairs or ‘decent homes’ work for over 30 years now. Week in, week out, residents contact me in despair about the state of their homes – and express their frustration at the lack of repairs.

I’ve heard horror stories about individuals and families living with extreme mould and damp, broken windows, and faulty appliances. Yet Labour-run Haringey Council and their housing contractor Homes for Haringey seem unable to complete basic repairs in an efficient and timely manner – let alone organise ‘decent homes’ work, which would see bathrooms and kitchens replaced.

It’s particularly bad for residents on the Noel Park estate, who have seen the council spend the government’s ‘decent homes’ fund on other local estates and blocks – sometimes twice over – while they are ignored.

And to make matters even worse – it was revealed last year that the Labour-run Council allowed £3.7 million to be spent on bonuses for Homes for Haringey repairs staff. That’s £3.7million that could have been spent in Noel Park.

One local resident said: “Residents on the Noel Park estate need urgent repairs, but the council and Homes for Haringey have not taken action.

“It’s not fair for the council to spend so much money on other places, and waste money on botched repairs, when the Noel Park estate is in such desperate need.”

The local Noel Park Liberal Democrat team and I decided enough was enough. Over the last year, we’ve run a petition calling on the council to make vital repairs to the estate, and to spend money on buildings, not bonuses. We’ve done hundreds of pieces of casework on behalf of residents, to try and get them vital repairs.

More recently, we met with housing chiefs from both Homes for Haringey and Haringey Council. At the meeting, they committed to make urgent repairs to Noel Park properties and consult residents about more substantive repairs – but we have heard this before.

That’s why I called the public meeting – to finally give residents the chance to have their voices heard.

The meeting was absolutely packed full of local residents, who were very angry about the status quo. They shared stories about the troubles they face on a day to day basis.

This time, the council and Homes for Haringey made the promises about repairs directly to the residents.

I will keep a close eye on this – and ask the residents whether repairs have been made. If they have not – I will have no qualms about publicising the further failure on my website.

These residents have been ignored for too long. I hope, as a result of the Lib Dem campaign and the public meeting, the residents will finally get the repairs and living conditions they deserve.

You can sign the petition, calling on the Council to spend money on homes, rather than bonuses, here.

The fight for Noel Park repairs continues after packed public meeting

the audience at Lynne Featherstone MP's public meeting on the Noel Park estateLiberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone last night hosted a packed public meeting in Noel Park, to give residents a chance to have their say on housing repairs.

Over 50 residents made their views heard to representatives from both Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey. The concerns raised included a lack of urgent repairs, failure to provide decent homes work and poor customer service.

Having seen the anger and upset among the residents, Homes for Haringey promised to take action and complete the urgent repairs.

Along with local campaigners Roberto Robles, Colin Heinink and Vik Seeborun – Lynne Featherstone MP has long been campaigning for a better deal for residents on the Noel Park estate. They have called on the Labour-run Council to include the Noel Park estate in the Decent Homes programme – and for Homes for Haringey to spend money on repairs, rather than bonuses.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“I am glad that, finally, residents have had the chance to raise their concerns directly with the Council and Homes for Haringey.

“Listening to the residents and hearing about the awful conditions they live in, it is obvious that the Labour-run Council have let them and the whole estate down badly. This is a scandal, no-one should have to live like this.

“Homes for Haringey promised at the meeting to make the urgent repairs. I will be keeping a close eye on them, and publishing whether they keep their word or not.”

Noel Park campaigner Roberto Robles said:

“It was shocking and deeply saddening to hear what some of the local residents have to live with on a day to day basis.

“And their local Labour councillor, who is responsible for housing in the borough, didn’t even bother to show up to the meeting.

“Noel Park deserves better. Colin Heinink, Vik Seeborun and I will carry on fighting for residents, to secure the urgent repairs that are so desperately needed.”

Noel Park estate resident Carol Cabey said:

“Residents on the Noel Park estate need urgent repairs, but the Council and Homes for Haringey have not taken action.

“It’s not fair for the Council to spend so much money on other places, and waste money on botched repairs, when the Noel Park estate is in such desperate need.

“I’m glad Lynne called the meeting and gave us a chance to have our voices heard. I just hope the Council and Homes for Haringey were listening.”

Lib Dem action on tax helps to ease the cost of living

Here’s my latest Ham and High column – also available on Lib Dem Voice.

There are so many perks of living in Haringey – vibrant high streets, good transport links, wonderful parks and views – to name but a few!

But on the downside, our bin collections, roads and other public services are notoriously bad. Haringey Council – which is run by Labour – has been rated the worst in London.

Week in, week out, Haringey Labour seem to lurch from one crisis to another. They failed to meet their own targets for making our local roads safe, and allowed £3.7 million to be spent on bonuses which could have been spent on repairs to local homes.

This just isn’t fair on local residents or the hard working officials and frontline workers at the Council. We all deserve a Council that is run efficiently, and directed to spend taxpayers money on the things that matter most.

Despite the poor services, under the previous Labour Government the average Council Tax bill in Haringey increased by a whopping £474. Year on year, Council Tax for Haringey residents increased way above the rate of inflation.

Constantly rising Council Tax did not help individuals and families with the cost of living – particularly after the recession began.

The Liberal Democrats, however, are taking steps to help with the cost of living. Addressing spiralling Council Tax bills is one of these steps.

Since the Liberal Democrats entered Government in 2010 – Council Tax for Haringey residents has been frozen. This is due to successful local Liberal Democrat campaigning, and the Government giving extra cash to any Council if they do not increase Council Tax.

This protects residents from the kind of arbitrary tax rises we saw under Labour.  A typical Band D Council Tax bill in Haringey will be £229.63 less from April 2014 than if Labour’s increases carried on as before.

The Liberal Democrats in Government have also secured a £700 tax cut for all workers.

In April, the personal tax allowance (the amount of your salary you can keep before being taxed) will rise to £10,000.

This means that almost 90,000 residents will get to keep an extra £700 of their pay-packet this year. This is a flagship Lib Dem policy – it was on the front of our 2010 manifesto and it has been delivered in Government. We’re now campaigning to make it an £800 tax cut.

This is real Lib Dem action to bring the cost of living down for local residents. The Tories alone would not have done this. In 2010, David Cameron said ‘we couldn’t afford it.’ Labour had 13 years in Government to bring in policies like this – and they failed to do so.

There is still so much work to do. The economic crisis has taken its toll on many in Haringey, and we are only just beginning to see signs of recovery.

But these measures, Council Tax freezes and the £700 tax cut for all workers are designed to help with the cost of living, and they wouldn’t be happening without the Lib Dems in Government.

Lib Dem politicians welcome decision to defer Hornsey Depot plan

Lynne Featherstone MP outside Hornsey DepotThe Hornsey Depot application – which would see a Sainburys and over 400 new homes built on Hornsey High Street – has been deferred. This decision was made despite Labour-run Haringey Council’s planning officers saying planning permission should be granted.

At the meeting in Wood Green, Lib Dem Cllr Monica Whyte argued that the developers needed to make changes to the planned development on Hornsey High Street to address local residents’ concerns.

Local Lib Dem councillors and Lynne Featherstone MP had already formally lodged objections to the plans before the meeting – which included concerns about the quality and management of flats in the neighbouring New River site, which were built by the same developer.

Other issues raised by residents and politicians include:

  • The height of the proposed buildings
  • The density of the development
  • Limited play areas for children
  • The size of the Sainsbury’s store and its impact on local traders.

As a result of the Liberal Democrat and local resident concerns, the Committee deferred the decision and requested that the developers come back with revised plans taking into account residents’ views.

Monica Whyte, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Hornsey, comments:

“I welcome the decision to defer the application for the development of the Hornsey Depot site. We want the site developed but the concerns of residents must be taken into account. The developers need to revise their plans and do more to address the concerns of local residents.

“We want to see the right development on Hornsey High Street, which brings benefits to the local community. The plans put forward last night were just not good enough.”

Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, comments:

“This is good news for local residents. I hope the delay will mean that the developers take heed and listen to the concerns that the Haringey Lib Dems and residents have raised, and revise their plans accordingly.

“The problems at the New River Village, which I am still campaigning on, can’t be ignored. The developer must also show that lessons have been learnt from that before any further changes are made to our community.”