Liberal Democrats back local residents in fight to stop Hornsey train shed

Liberal Democrats have this week backed local residents in their fight to stop a giant train depot being built at Coronation Sidings in Hornsey. A strong consultation response to Haringey Council was made by Hornsey Councillor Robert Gorrie, backed by local Liberal Democrats and Lynne Featherstone MP, following a meeting last week between Network Rail, Residents’ Association chairs and Liberal Democrats.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“Local residents are enraged at the plans to build this huge train shed right next to New River Village, and I was delighted to be able to help residents put their concerns directly to Network Rail bosses in the meeting last week.

“I firmly back local residents, the Residents’ Association chairs who came to the meeting, as well as my colleague Councillor Gorrie in their submissions to the consultation. I hope that with such a resounding ‘no’ from the local community, the council will throw out this application, and Network Rail will have to look elsewhere to build their shed.”

Hornsey Councillor Robert Gorrie adds:

“I have been working very closely with residents for the past two years to help them fight these plans. Residents’ Association chairs from the neighbouring area have been very thorough in their review of this huge and complex application. They have worked tirelessly to identify the shortcomings in the plans and I wholeheartedly back them in their opposition.

“My main concerns, which I have made very clear to the Council, are about the lack of transparency in the Network Rail consultants’ selection of Hornsey as the location of the depot, the lack of mitigation proposed for the impact this massive operation would have on local residents, and the lack of information of how the shed would be run by whatever unidentified subcontractor is picked for the job. I hope that the Council will listen to local people and stop this monstrosity.”

Liberal Democrat thanks to Haringey residents YES! in referendum

Local Liberal Democrats have thanked all those residents who voted for the successful Haringey YES! campaign last Thursday.
 
Haringey residents gave an overwhelming endorsement to the alternative vote, making it one of a handful of places to say yes.  An all party campaign strongly supported by Haringey Liberal Democrats proved that the borough’s voters lead the way in pressing for democratic reform.
 
Liberal Democrat Council Group leader Robert Gorrie welcomed the result saying,
 
“It just shows what can be done if an informed and progressive electorate get the facts.  It is a great shame that the No campaign tactics were all about attacking personalities, manufacturing scares and sowing confusion, rather than debating the issue.  Full marks to Haringey residents for seeing through this.”
 
Lynne Featherstone MP added:
 
“It was very heartwarming to see the people of Haringey so resoundingly saying YES to fairer votes on Thursday – a little ray of sunshine on a pretty dark day. Sadly, the fantastic result we got here in Haringey was not echoed elsewhere.

“But I am pleased that locally, we not only had an above the London average turnout, but people really engaged with the campaign and the issues. I’m proud of Haringey and of the many engaged and enthusiastic residents who live here!”

Local Liberal Democrat budget proposals save front-line services from Haringey Labour’s cuts

Cllr Richard Wilson, Lynne and Cllr Katherine Reece collecting signatures for the petition against cuts to older peoples' servicesPlans to reverse Labour’s closure of older people’s day centres, drop-in centres and luncheon clubs are part of the Liberal Democrat’s alternative budget proposals.
 
In the five amendments to Labour’s budget, to be proposed on Thursday (24th Feb 2011), Liberal Democrats have set out their choices for spending priorities which would protect older people’s services, invest in the youth service, support action on crime, and help to develop the voluntary sector and job creation.
 
Liberal Democrats have said that Labour are making the wrong decisions targeting front-line services for cuts and, have proposed instead, new savings in IT, management, and communications.
 
The position faced by Haringey is made worse by Labour’s home-made financial crisis. A £10 million overspend during the course of the current year, £20 million of cost increases forecast for next year, the failure to deal with waste sooner, the ongoing impact from the £37 million frozen in Icelandic Banks all add up to put Haringey in a worse situation to deal with the funding reductions.
 
Cllr Robert Gorrie, Haringey Liberal Democrat Leader and Resources Spokesperson, comments:
 
“Haringey Labour’s home-made financial crisis compounds the mess made by their Labour colleagues nationally when they were in government
 
“We believe that there is an alternative to Labour’s decision to close older people’s day centres, cut youth services by 75%, and cut funding for action on crime and job creation.
 
“More savings can be made on the £16.5 million spent on IT, the £20 million spent on senior management, the £1.5 million spent on communications, and the £3 million spent on policy and performance. Yet Labour have instead made the choice to shut day centres and cut youth services by 75%.”
 
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
 
“If Labour had been better at managing the budget in times of prosperity, they would have been much better placed to deal with today’s cuts.
 
“Despite the difficult financial circumstances, I believe my colleagues have come up with a strong alternative budget that protects the frontline for the most vulnerable.
 
“I hope Haringey Labour will listen hard this Thursday, and make better choices that are better for Haringey’s residents.”

To sign the petition against cuts to older peoples’ services please click here: http://bit.ly/SaveOlderPeoplesServices

To read the Haringey Liberal Democrats’ alternative budget proposals please click here: http://bit.ly/libdembudget

Haringey Liberal Democrats standing up for local businesses this Christmas

Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Robert Gorrie with trader LucyTo see how they can best support local businesses through the difficult financial times and in the run-up to Christmas, Local Liberal Democrats have today launched a business survey to go out to businesses across Haringey.
 
The business survey, part of the ‘be local’ campaign, intended to encourage volunteering and support for local shops, was today launched by Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillor Robert Gorrie on Hornsey High Street. The Liberal Democrats are also writing to local residents in December to encourage them to support their local shops this Christmas.
 
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
 
“The tough economic climate has been hard on our local businesses, and as the run-up to Christmas is so important for local shop, we’re today launching a survey to hear what matters to traders.
 
“We want to know about the top issues to tackle, and will be speaking to businesses up and down the borough in the coming month.”
 
Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson Cllr Robert Gorrie adds:
 
“There are many spectacular businesses in our community. They are the life-blood of our local town centres and local economy.
 
“We want to know what more can be done to encourage people to use our High Street and ‘be local’ this winter, and that’s why we are also writing to residents, encouraging them to do their Christmas shopping locally this year.”

Standing up for the Voluntary Sector

I went to a meeting convened by Havco (Haringey Association of Voluntary and Community Organisations) and Haringey’s Community Link Forum (HCLF) last week. The meeting was set up for to consider 1) the development of a Voluntary Sector position paper to go to Haringey Council cabinet meeting and 2) begin to examine the changes that may need to be made by the sector to ensure that it can operate effectively within the new working environment..

Obviously there are cuts by central Government to local government – so let’s accept that this is straight fact – and concentrate then on how those cuts are going to translate on the ground in Haringey. From the £6.2 billion of emergency budget cuts – that knocks on to Haringey at around £3.2 million. Alongside the reductions in grant – there is the removal of ring-fencing, ending of national indicators and cessation of the Comprehensive Area Assessment – basically the central government strictures on local authorities as to how they spend their money or where they remove it from – have been removed.

So – it’s down to this Labour council in Haringey as to where these cuts will be made!

I went to the meeting of the Voluntary Sector because knowing Haringey – and I do know Haringey – they will be looking for soft targets and they will see the Voluntary Sector as a soft target. They won’t want to really do the hard stuff. It is so much easier to cut off the grant at arm’s length where the effect isn’t near to you. So much harder to sack someone from the office you work in – where you see people everyday and would have to bear the anger of being faced with your actions. And I believe there are also quite a few eye watering salaries at the top of the Haringey tree which might bear some pruning too – and a long hard look at the management culture might not go amiss! And don’t even get me started on the wastage that exists………

So Haringey Labour, need to make these cuts very, very carefully – and not go for the soft options. 

But to get onto the main point – it is the Voluntary Sector in Haringey who reach people not reached by statutory services and who provide on value for money terms – definite bangs for bucks. The evening was organised to get the points in place to make the case to Haringey when their cabinet meets on the 13th (I think) – and it is a very strong case.

So here are some of the points they made – all reasons for Haringey to look more carefully at themselves before they lay a finger on the Voluntary Sector.

– they reach the unreachable

– their work is mainly and often the sort of work that protects those people who are the most vulnerable, and in terms of equality and the groups who have protected characteristics, making cuts in this sector will have a direct impact on equality.  

– the VS do a great deal of preventative work and therefore savings culled from the VS may actually cost the council more in the long term

– they are cheaper than statutory services

– they often attract matched funding

– their work often actually stops costs being passed to the statutory sector

There was a whole lot more but that will suffice for the moment. It makes the point that is critical. The Voluntary Sector needs to be supported as far as possible during the retrenchment rather than being an easy target for Haringey Council cuts.

And given that Haringey’s first reaction to the cuts (for example) was to stop free swimming for children and pensioners and blame it on the coalition – we can see which way they are likely to go. However, if you scratch the surface of that move, you will find that actually only a quarter of the cost of swimming was funded by central government – most of it was funded by Haringey.

As my colleague, Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of the LibDem group on Haringey Council said: “Simply blaming the government is a shallow and political approach to dealing with what will be the first of many challenging cuts as the government works to put public finances back in some sort of order.”

So – the VS will prepare their position paper for Haringey Council’s cabinet meeting. They finished with some very good points about understanding how these decisions were being made and how they should be communicated. As one woman said – the key point is transparency – maximum transparency – so we can all see how and why and by whom these decisions about cuts are being made. We need to know that they are fair.

Too right we do!

PS: For info – not a single Haringey Labour councillor turned up to the meeting whereas LibDem Cllr Gail Engert was there in her role as Shadow Communities member.

Lib Dem leader thanks local people for largest ever Lib Dem vote

While local Liberal Democrats were celebrating the big increase in Lynne Featherstone’s majority in the General Election, there was disappointment that the party did not manage to take control of Haringey Council, which remains under Labour rule.

Lib Dem local candidates in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency polled even higher than Ms Featherstone overall, but it wasn’t enough to make the crucial handful of gains that would have put an end to 40 years of Labour control of Haringey Council, dubbed the worst council in London.

Ms Featherstone’s majority over Labour almost trebled, as voters endorsed her five years as MP. Lib Dem council candidates in 21 seats romped to victory, and there was delight as the party held its two seats in Harringay ward, that were recounted on Friday afternoon.

Lib Dems also expressed satisfaction that hard working candidate David Schmitz easily retained second place in the Tottenham constituency – and secured a seat on Haringey Council. However, the results were not enough to secure the extra seats needed in the Wood Green area, where the party narrowly lost out to Labour.

There was also delight among local Lib Dems that two of their former friends and colleagues, Stephen Gilbert (former Fortis Green councillor) and Duncan Hames (former Tottenham candidate) were both elected to Parliament in the West Country.

Lib Dem Leader Robert Gorrie comments:

“While there is disappointment in not winning control of Haringey Council, I’d like to thank local people for the largest ever Lib Dem vote in the borough. And I’m delighted that Lynne Featherstone has won such a ringing endorsement from local voters.

“With no other parties coming close to wining any seats on the Council it again falls to the Lib Dems to provide the opposition that is the real force pushing this council to improve. With Labour winning with just 39 per cent of the votes, they will certainly have to listen.”

The “right decision” for residents say Liberal Democrats as the Whittington is saved

Whittington Hospital celebrationIn response to the announcement by the government that the Whittington Accident and Emergency department will not face closure, Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green comments:

“This is fantastic news, and such a brilliant testament to the fact that the power of local people and our campaign has worked!

“This is the right decision for local residents. I have been fighting tooth and nail together with my Liberal Democrat colleagues and local residents to keep our vital health services open since the disastrous plans were leaked to me last October.

“I am ecstatic that we have been successful in forcing faceless health bureaucrats to back down.

“Nick Clegg has given cast iron guarantees that he will not close the Whittington, and I will certainly be holding Labour to their last minute promise – and make sure this is not just a hollow election pledge.

“Thanks so much to all local residents, campaigners and activists who have given so much to help save the Whittington.”

Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats adds:

“Local residents have forced the Labour Government to listen to them, but let’s not forget that it was a Labour government that let the faceless bureaucrats put these plans on the table in the first place.

“The plans to change health services in north London are still ongoing – NHS London need to come clean on what the remaining plans will mean for people in Haringey.”