Haringey Council’s latest housing scandal

Last week it was revealed that Labour-run Haringey Council spent over £3 million of taxpayers’ money repairing the High Road West area of Tottenham in 2011 – only to decide to demolish the properties two years later.

That’s right – In 2013, the Labour council decided they would demolish every one of these properties so Tottenham Hotspur can build ‘Wembley Way.’

This is, sadly, what people have come to expect of the Labour-run council. Noel Park Estate has been in desperate need of repairs for many years now, and yet the council has refused to invest in the area. Instead, the council spends our Council Tax on vanity projects like the Haringey People magazine, and on repairs for houses they want to demolish.

People in my Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, which covers Noel Park, deserve decent homes. So do people in Tottenham, and this appalling waste of money by the council is a slap in the face for everyone who has waited years for the council to repair their home.

I receive many hundreds of contacts from constituents who are in dire need of improvements to their council homes. The scale of the problem is huge – and it is not just an isolated problem in the east of Haringey; it covers the whole Borough from Highgate to Northumberland Park.

It’s another case of high council tax and poor services in Haringey. I will keep up the pressure on the council to provide the services that residents pay for and deserve. But after forty years in power, it is clear the Labour leadership has no effective strategy in providing quality housing to residents.

Nick Griffin's grin

Someone had obviously coached Nick Griffin for his Question Time debut, and the key advice given, was obviously to smile – whatever. Media trainers will always give such advice but they may have to rethink it. Mr Griffin’s attempt to present himself and the BNP as reasonable by hideously grinning throughout Question Time served only to make the British public see him even more clearly as a racist, homophobic, bigot.

And that’s good – the BNP is the appropriate party for a racist or a homophobe to vote for. On the doorstep, when I come across the thankfully rare occurrence of an obvious racist – I always say that I don’t want their vote.

But the BNP seats at the European table didn’t all come from racists. And the Government and local councils have not addressed some of the issues that drive those who feel disenfranchised into the arms of the BNP because they feel they are getting ignored or believe they delivered a raw deal.

The BNP and their ilk will always feed off of those who are disgruntled, disenfranchised and ignored. A vacuum in terms of political attention provides the perfect feeding ground for those who feed off of that discontent. Additionally, where there is a scarcity of resources – the extra pressures brought by high levels of immigration and asylum seeking means extra pressure on public services – school places, health services and housing key amongst them in those areas. 

The Government does not give local councils the full costs of bearing the weight of new immigrants and asylum seekers – so it does add pressures. If you take social housing in Haringey – for which the demand outstrips provision by such huge proportions that my surgeries are always populated by those who are desperately in need of housing. And yes – there is very occasionally ‘racism’ towards those who are perceived as arriving in this country with lots of children and immediately getting a house against those who are on the housing list for years and get nowhere. The stories are legion. The Equality and Human Rights Commission did an investigative piece of work to establish whether this tale of the ‘newly arrived’ jumping the housing queue was true – and found it was not. What is needed is more housing, and to publish transparently who gets what accommodation so that the suspicion can be allayed.

Back to Question Time. Yes – the BBC was absolutely right to invite Nick Griffin on to the program. It had no choice with the two MEPs having been elected. However, I don’t expect that those two seats at the European Parliament warrant more than a visit to Question Time once every few years if that – proportionally. If the rating s for last night persuade QT to offer that platform any more often than is proportionally deserved then they will lose the moral high ground which they claimed for giving the BNP that exposure this time round.

And media trainers will have to go back to the drawing board – as ‘smile and the world smiles with you’  just didn’t do it for the BNP.