Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

HarringayOnline is not what it used to be for politics - Haringey cabinet sackings edition

Just take for example the lack of coverage of one of our local councillors being sacked from the cabinet on New Year's Eve and replaced with another one of our local councillors a couple of days into the new year. Covered in OnLondon here.

Clive Carter posted it on OpinoN8 (Crouch End's forum) but hardly anyone reads that compared to HoL. Anyway, his post is here.

Instead we're more often than not name calling, selling stuff and recommending tradespeople. We used to be better than this.

Tags for Forum Posts: ahmet, brabazon, cabinet, council, haringey, politics, sacking

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Not to mention nothing on the suggested real reason for the sacking which from a quick Google also mainly only mentioned on OpinoN8 - the questioning of the council giving £35,900,000 to Fortismere School being slipped in on a single-line-item buried deep in Appendix 4 of a document for a Cabinet meeting. £35,900,000!!! http://opinion8.ning.com/forum/topics/35-900-000-of-haringey-fundin...

Round we go again as another bunch of activists become councilors before morphing into the same old bunch of Handmaidens for Neo-Liberal Austerity...

I suspect a lot of people have given up on local politics. Look at local voter turnout figures. I expect HoL coverage is simply a reflection of that. 

Quite. Selling stuff and finding tradespeople is probably more useful to most people than the minutiae of local level political bickering. 

Thanks for flagging this up. I hadn't heard of it, I had no idea, even though Peray Ahmet is one of my councillors, and I don't suppose it will be covered in the next issue of Haringey People. 

I actually did come on here this evening to look for a recommendation for a painter / decorator, but this is exactly what a neighbourhood forum is for. And I now have a Who earworm, which is irritating as I don't really like The Who.

The rich white greed machine is unstoppable. Its good that there are people out there making an effort to stop it but really they're wasting their time.     Helping people who suffer because of if makes more sense to me. Those who use drugs and alcohol to escape it all for example.   Mental health.         Toffs in charge. A minority in charge!! Phtt.   My opinion/rant over. At least I wasn't selling anything

Here's Cllr Peray Ahmet's statement sent outin the early hours of 2 January.
__________________________________

From: Cllr Ahmet Peray
Sent: 02 January 2019
To: Labour Councillors
Subject: Cabinet position

Dear colleague,

Happy New Year to you all. As was stated in Joe’s email on Monday, I was recently asked to leave cabinet. The first I knew of this was yesterday morning. This was never raised in a one to one with me and I was not given any prior warning. Nor was I given a reason, except to say that it was important for ‘cabinet cohesion’.

Despite the battles to prevent polices that would have seen us veer away from our manifesto pledges, I have had a very enjoyable and challenging 6/7 months leading on Adult Social Care and Health. Driving through change in the agenda was my utmost priority, implementing the manifesto commitments and also going further where possible. We were on the brink of some pretty big things and I hope I have laid enough groundwork for my successor to pick up and drive through:

* Re-design group. The first meeting of the group took place last month. There are a number of councillors who sit on the group alongside relevant stakeholders and users (although we can strengthen this part). The resources were not enough to implement the project, so after some discussion with the CEO it was agreed that further support would be put in place to support the programme. The next meeting was due in January. There is a Terms of Reference in place and the role of the group was set up to include a look at social care as an ‘asset’ not a burden. Discussion of a trip to other councils was also in the plans.

* Osborne Grove. One of the first acts of the Cabinet was to keep the home open and commit to keeping it as a nursing home, keep it as a public sector run organisation and keep it open for the existing families. There has been some disagreement amongst us on this and Joe has been keen to close it. I argued successfully at the time to keep it open, as we are working on a feasibility study and the predicted ‘savings’ are unlikely to be realised. The solution has been to move the existing residents into one wing. The work on this has started and a series of meetings with the families are in place for January.

* Canning Crescent/Homelessness Hub: I worked closely with officers to ensure that we were in a position to purchase the Canning Crescent building from the Mental Health Trust. In contrast to what has happened previously, officers have been asked to look at purchasing buildings to bring them into use. Another vacant building is also being looked at. The Homelessness Hub is due to go live early this year.

* Haven and the Roundway: I publicly committed to bringing these centres back into use. The intention was to create a co-design group that will help us shape this. I have already spoken to the carer’s forum, the pensioner’s forum and the scrutiny panel re the work we intend to do on this, which involves bringing the placements back into the borough. This is an exciting piece of work which will go some way to restoring trust with the community.

* Understand Social Care event: I asked officers to organise an event back in October which is intended to act as a forum and to focus on themes within the ASC and health area. The intention was to hold 3 of these a year, with different themes, the summer one will have reported the outcomes of the work of the re-design group.

* Primary care: There is a distinct lack of primary care in Haringey. Three sites have been identified. I have already arranged a briefing on one primary care site and there are due to be briefings on each of the other two sites.

* Safeguarding training: I asked officers to arrange training which included safeguarding adults, children’s and housing. The last one was well received and I had asked for it to be repeated in order for more Cllrs to benefit.

* Transitions: I have been working closely with Elin on areas that crossover between the children’s and adult’s portfolios. There is lots of work being done on this area and a meeting planned with families who are due to transition.

* Remodelling of homecare: officers are working on this area in order to ensure that we are in a position to pay our homecare workers LLW by 2020. I have worked closely with the unions on this.

I believe strongly that we should be talking to the community at large, especially when it comes to social care and health. I have regular meetings with various community representatives, the trade unions and others and have made lots of effort to improve the standing of the council with these groups. I feel I was making some good headway.

And so, it is with some sadness that I am no longer able to continue with this work.

The only reason I can perhaps presume is that I have opposed Joe on a number of occasions within the cabinet. This has included his push for the closure of Osborne Grove and the push to find more cuts in Adults Social Care, including what we know as P201 (Top Up Policy) and P202 (Disability Disregard). As I expressed to group at the time, it felt as if Adult Social Care was the only policy area with no red lines and I attempted to have some money reinvested from Children’s into the ASC budget. I am concerned that some members are saying otherwise. I fought hard to get those cuts off the table and to ensure that Osborne Grove remains open to the families that are there. We committed to this in our manifesto and to have gone back on it would have been a travesty. I have also raised strong concerns re the Fortismere Capital programme.

I do believe that policy decisions should be robustly challenged and not just accepted. That makes for better decision making. Unfortunately, this appears to be have been portrayed as a ‘lack of cohesion’. I have served this borough in many different ways and roles and for many years and I will continue working hard for the ward I represent, because those are the people we are here for, not to engross ourselves in endless political battles, which mean nothing outside of the council chamber.

Regards

Peray

Cllr Peray Ahmet
Labour Member for Noel Park Ward

Thanks John for posting the link to my statement. It is an accurate account of the work I was doing in the Cabinet and I hope gives an insight into some of the background reasons for Joe Ejiofor sacking me. It happened on New Year's Eve - a 5 minute so-called 'difficult conversation'. It's no use blaming me or Peray for the fractiousness of his Cabinet. In heirarchical organisations the Leader/Director/Chief Executive sets the tone and has a responsibility to model good practice. He/she can't distance themselves from problems - and then blame others. A section from my statement is below.

Joe’s view in his email of yesterday that he was ‘tasked with delivering the manifesto’ suggests this is down to him alone.  In my view this is a misunderstanding and should not be the case. Delivering the manifesto should be, and requires, a team effort where we all play our part irrespective of roles. One vital task of the Leader is to act as a facilitator and builder of that team, consulting, involving and working with all colleagues.

 

Regrettably, it has been apparent to me that the new Cabinet has been unable to work collaboratively. This could have been overcome with team building and work to develop trusting relationships. This would have demonstrated leadership and an understanding of collegiality and collaboration.  It was a source of disappointment that this did not materialise. Even the one ‘Away Day’, meant to initiate discussions on this, took months to set up and only then as a result of pressure from within the Cabinet. It sadly did not result in any material changes beyond a weekly one hour lunchtime meeting.

 I do feel strongly, though, that if things are not going well, the answer is to speak to people, secure consensus and build commitment. I recognised, of course, that Cabinet meetings were disagreeable and fractious. You all know that I am direct and that I ask questions. I make no apology for either of those things. I have always believed that leadership is not about autocracy or individual glory. Rather, good leadership is about creating an environment where people work together to make things work and where constructive dialogue and dissent are valued and respected. I believe in fairness, as all Socialists do, surely.

 I’m afraid I suspect the real reason I have been removed from Cabinet is because of my recent position on the proposed funding for Fortismere School. This proposed allocation of £35.9m capital was slipped into the capital budget at the last moment without any prior Cabinet discussion with only a brief background general paper. I believe this scheme could expose the Council to financial risk and as such I have a responsibility to raise questions. It is self-evident that this is both highly controversial and hugely risky since Fortismere is a foundation school with land and buildings not in the direct ownership of the council. This was not a manifesto commitment and yet acquired huge importance, driven solely by Joe. I believe the project may be undeliverable and that Council should not be involved in this. At the very least, group and Cabinet should have been involved in discussing this before such a huge project went into the public domain.

 A healthy political culture is one where complicated issues can be challenged and discussed in depth, dissent respected and even welcomed. Stifling discussion or disagreement, or having small mini cabinet meetings is no way to build a team which can work positively in such a complex borough with a £250m budget. In every ward in Haringey there will be controversial projects and applications. Every ward councillor should feel confident their concerns and thoughts are listened to and respected, and taken into account, to make change in the interest of the residents we are elected to represent and serve. I do not feel the current cabinet culture leads by example where issues are explored in depth and where policies and strategies can be developed.  Rushing things through, is not the way to work. So in the meantime I will continue working from the back benches to represent and fight for residents in my ward and across the borough. 

 As you can see, Ant and I agree that the Fortismere issue is key to Joe's decision. I will be pursuing this issue as an ordinary ward councillor as I will many other pressing issue such as the Argent development, the state of Finsbury Park, HMOs, landlord licensing, regeneration. I remain enthusiastic about the Fairness commission despite being unfairly decommissioned from the task!  

Happy New Year to everyone!

Zena

Zena Brabazon

Cllr, Harringay Ward

I remember asking a mp person once "on pay as you go electric metres if your electric runs out and the £5 pound emergency credit comes on then that runs out how much money do you have to put back on the key to get your power back?    Different worlds.     

It stops completely when the £5 runs out but there is a “charge” that it takes from you when you’re on the £5 of about 30p a day, the APR on that is something Wonga would be proud of.

So having tenure in your home and a “proper account” with a utility company may expose you to them overcharging until they do a reading but at least they refund you, just not with interest, let alone that kind of interest.

£6.  

Dose anyone know a good plumber?

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