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Haringey: pressure grows as Labour council ploughs ahead with cuts
Paul Kershaw, Haringey and Enfield Socialist Party
Haringey council's 'scrutiny committee' will apparently recommend a delay to a massive social cleansing regeneration scheme. This is a victory for local campaigners and a blow to the local right-wing Labour leadership, who face increasing opposition.
Public-private partnerships always tend to load risk on the public sector while driving private profiteering, and that is the concern of the committee regarding the £2 billion plan.
Campaigners are calling on the council to give residents a vote on the regeneration proposals that mean a net loss of social housing.
The credibility of the council leadership has been further undermined by reports that cabinet members have enjoyed hospitality worth £770 at 13 lunches or dinners paid for by Terrapin Communications, a PR firm linked to controversial proposals to convert Hornsey Town Hall into a 'Boutique Hotel'.
According to the local paper, one senior Haringey Labour source asks: "If these meetings were not to do with Hornsey Town Hall then what were they about?"
The local Labour parties have seen a big growth of membership in response to Jeremy Corbyn's opposition to austerity and his call for a halt to social cleansing.
But the council continues with further privatisation proposals and anti-working class regeneration plans. It has huge reserves but is ploughing ahead with cuts.
Two council byelections have led to new councillors being elected as supporters of the left. The local party in Tottenham has voted for a resolution calling on the council to reverse privatisation.
Local branches have supported a Unison campaign to stop the proposed privatisation of the Ermine Road centre, part of the adult social care service.
The council workers' union, Unison, is currently pursuing a legal case against the council because a privatised homecare provider was paying its workers less than the minimum wage - as little as £3.67 per hour.
The argument that the council can manage private contractors to protect services and workers is no longer believed.
If Labour councillors take up a serious fight in defence of their community and against austerity they will get tremendous support in the area.
Simply to halt the privatisation of the remaining Learning Disability Day Centre would be an important start; councillors would be signalling their willingness to stand up to the old council leadership.
Setting a no-cuts budget by drawing on reserves would lay the basis for a massive fightback. Who could deny that truly affordable social housing is needed in inner London?
A budget that built more council homes rather than reducing the number would put the ideas that have drawn people toward Labour into practice.
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