Haringey Council: Still crazy after all these years

Remember the 1980s? When Haringey vied with Islington, Lambeth and Hackney to be the looniest of the Loony Left councils? People thought of Haringey and thought of corruption, fraud, cronyism and, above all, its love of all things politically-correct; "black" and "white" tea was banned for fear of causing offence and nursery school kids, barely out of nappies, were given books asking them "How Would You Feel If Your Daddy Was Gay?"

To be fair, Haringey isn't as blatantly PC as it used to be. That said, they occasionally let their masks slip. See here for one example.

But financial mismanagement and 'favouritism' are still rife across Haringey and its departments. Senior Labour councillors either know what the score is and turn a 'blind eye' or they're kept out of the loop by senior officers of the Council. Hunter thinks it a bit of both, having seen leaked documents from disgruntled and honest Labour Party members disgusted at what is going on.

Taxpayers' money is siphoned off to organisations and events that are run by Labour members, competitive-tendering is by-passed and million pound contracts are awarded to Labour members and their relatives. Flagrant breaches of planning rules and regulations are often ignored - and jobs are given to Labour Party members and to their friends.

Over half of the Council's senior officers are members are the Labour Party, including the previous Head of Electoral Services! How big is the Labour Party's membership these days? c.177k nationally? On that basis, one would expect that no more than 1 in 300 of council employees would be Labour Party members (the UK population is now 60 million). Astonishing, isn't it? It looks like in Haringey it's not a case of what you know, it's WHO you know. And it helps to be in the local Labour Party to know people. Yes, Haringey is still a rotten borough, it's just learnt to manage its public image better than it did in the old days.

Hunter is busy gathering more intelligence and would like to hear from you if you are in the know. Why is Inspector Knacker bothering with Labour's 'Loans for Lordships' scandal nationally? Looks like he'd have far richer pickings if he paid a visit to a few Labour-run rotten boroughs like Haringey.


Norfolk Blogger said...

It's not uncommon. I know of two people in the recent past, senior in one Norfolk Council, who would brief the Tories on what the Lib Dems were saying and doing in meetings. Yesm they were Tory members.

Neil said...

One could argue it is in the best interest to have officers of a similar political persuasion. If all stakeholders are ageed on a shared vision then the organisation (the council) will be well led.

Having officers and councillors working towards different aims stiffles progress.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

What a ridiculous idea, Neil. Officers should be non-partisan civil servants who take orders from the democratically elected Members, i.e. the Cabinet or Executive.

What would happen if Party A beat Party B - would the staff change? Can you imagine officers, in some cases, changing EVERY YEAR?

If people have strong views, let them put their arguments before the people in an election.

So do you think that bureaucrats should implement their ideas at national level, too, without actually having been elected? And to whom would they be answerable?

Call yourself a “Democrat”?

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

NB, not acceptable for anyone in those positions to behave like that!!!

David Allen said...

Neil, do local government officials really want to accept a situation where they are liable to lose their jobs without redundancy pay if the council changes hands? That is the necessary HR corollary of having political appointees in executive salaried positions. The potential for nepotism and corruption in the handing out of jobs to political cronies is far too great to go down this road...People working in senior roles in local government or those which involve policy co-ordination or liaison with elected members need to accept that they cannot be involved politically themselves or they will lose the confidence of the electorate. The Widecomber rules need to be reviewed to bring more roles within their scope. But you cannot see a Labour government addressing this problem, because they are the main beneficiaries from it. Even when voters elect a Conservative council, that council is often working against the tide of a Labour fifth column of salaried officials who stymie attempts at reform and pursue their own agenda anyway.

Jacob said...

Ally Pally is a good illustration of your theses, Justin. The last General Manager was politically appointed in 1995 over the heads of the ostensible "Board" by the now disgraced Gurbux Singh, despite having no qualifications whatever for managing a large Victorian building (he was a Haringey middle manager), in order to run down the business preparatory to a sale.

But the rot set in long before. In 1980 the council were idiotic enough to be gulled into acquiring the Palace from the GLC. They didn't realize it was a charity and they had responsibilities to the benficiaries - all Londoners. The then-Tory opposition correctly warned that for one cash-strapped council taking on AP from the GLC would be disastrous unless the GLC guaranteed the cost of any restoration and voted against in the full council debate. Of course they were ignored. The Tory members (including one who is now a HIgh court judge) and the MP Hugh Rossi continued to point out the council's incompetence and corruption (no tendering for Allypally contracts leading to huge sums paid for eg the Park contract; the millions wasted on the rebuilding, declared unlawful by the Attorney-General) and that this was the real problem, not the Palace being a supposed white elephant. They sided with locals. All this changed when Peter Forrest took over local Tory leadership and thereafter sided with Labour and their puppet Board of trustees and officers and against the residents.

Read all about it on www.saveallypally.com.