Claire Kober has confirmed she will not take a final decision on whether to go ahead with Haringey LBC’s controversial regeneration scheme in Haringey before she steps down in May.
On the day Cllr Kober announced her resignation as a councillor, the leader of Labour-led Haringey has also sent an explosive message to the party’s national executive committee which had last week sought to stop the borough’s controversial plan to set up a housing vehicle in equal partnership with Australian developer Lendlease.
Cllr Kober said: “The principle of autonomous local government is a cornerstone of our democracy and one I had hoped that the national executive of my party would share. Sadly this appears not to be the case. Directing a Labour group in this way is not only legally dubious but also democratically unsound.”
Under Haringey’s partnership with Lendlease, the proposed new body would take more than £2bn of council assets, with the company owning a 50% stake. In return 6,400 homes and 20,000 jobs are meant to be created.
Cllr Kober said she was “very proud that we have procured a well-established, high quality private sector partner” but added: “However, we are still awaiting a judgement from the High Court in response to last October’s judicial review of the HDV.
“Given the proximity that there now is to the council’s purdah period – and the current context of febrile politics in which the reality and facts about the housing crisis and possible solutions such as the HDV are able to command less attention than the misinformation put about – I do not intend to take a final decision on the set up of the HDV in the last weeks of the current council administration.
“I hope that a new council leadership, faced with the urgent need to put in place ambitious and large-scale solutions to the housing crisis, will come to the HDV decision making with an open mind and a determination to do the right thing for the many overcrowded, poorly-housed or homeless households in Haringey.”
Cllr Kober said she was “deeply disappointed that no attempt was made by the NEC members” to speak to her “before, during or immediately after last week’s meeting”.
“As well as being discourteous to me, it is rather perverse to have a lengthy discussion about something without trying to gain possession of the facts,” said Cllr Kober. “It is unbecoming of the national executive of a government in waiting to discuss a policy based simply on the account of those opposed to it.”
Cllr Kober warned the party that “ideological dogma will do nothing to improve” the lives of Haringey’s families in temporary accommodation and on the borough’s housing waiting list.
“Only a determination to find practical solutions – in partnership with other sectors – offers them any realistic prospect of a better, more secure future,” she added.
Cllr Kober rejected the NEC’s offer of a ‘mediation’ session, stating that to participate ”would be a disservice to my colleagues in Labour local government”.