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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Wow. I had heard about the sackings but not about the £36 million. Is anyone aware of what Fortismere plans to do with the money and whether this opportunity is open to other local schools..?

On the basis of Zena’s account it does sound worthy of a great deal more discussion than it apparently had.

Alison there's more information from the School's website which Clive and I have posted on Opinion8 website. There are now some FoI questions in progress. 

Right now it feels to me like all the promises about openness and listening are just so much guff. Maybe replies to the F.o.I.s will prove me wrong?

Alan Stanton provides this link via twitter regarding the use of the funding (to the Fortismere site): 

Having been formed through the merger of three schools over the past 100 years, we are fortunate to occupy a large, spacious site. However, being made up of several separate buildings, all of differing ages, brings with it particular problems.

In recent years, as the school has developed and improved, the quality of some of the buildings has not kept pace. As a result, we have two canteens (one in North Wing and one in South Wing), neither of which is really fit for purpose, and the Sixth Form/LINC block in no way reflects the high quality of education on offer to young people from the local area.

In partnership with Haringey Council, the Governors of Fortismere have been discussing the options for making much-needed improvements to the site, and this briefing sets out the proposal.

Background

Fortismere’s two canteens offer a wide variety of food and drink to some 1,200 students and 200 staff members every day. Given that students in years 7 to 11 are not allowed to leave the site between 8.30am and 3.20pm (unless for specific reasons), the ability to provide nutritious and appealing food on-site is essential. Currently, South Wing Canteen is housed in a portacabin with limited seating or wet-weather protection. North Wing Canteen is situated in the foyer and is also cramped.

Break-time lasts from 10am to 10.20am each day and lunchtime lasts from 12.25pm to 1.15pm. Ensuring that all students and staff have time to queue, select and eat their food during that time has become increasingly challenging. We are therefore exploring the possibility of commissioning a single purpose-built canteen to cater for all students and staff.

Concerns about the current Sixth Form/LINC block are more complex. The Sixth Form and LINC are housed in the oldest part of the site – a Victorian 3-storey building. In recent years, despite our best efforts to maintain the structure, it has started to deteriorate; the roof leaks, the sash windows are ill-fitting, the flooring is uneven and it is impossible to maintain an ambient temperature. Conversely, the educational standard of our Sixth Form goes from strength to strength (with 70% of students gaining A* to B grades at A Level in 2015), and the specialist support delivered by LINC is widely acknowledged. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels, however, and if we want to continue providing this quality of education, we need a building that reflects our vision.

Project Objectives

The key objectives of the project are:

  • To contribute to high quality learner outcomes by replacing outdated and unsuitable sixth form accommodation
  • To enhance the overall learning outcomes at the school by making improvements to facilities
  • To replace current kitchen and dining facilities in the South Wing and explore the potential of combining existing North Wing dining facilities
  • A new sixth form wing would aim to provide facilities to support up to 500 sixth form students
  • To enable more Haringey young people to benefit from outstanding sixth form education within the borough, and, in particular, to create stronger links with schools in the east of the borough which do not have sixth forms
  • To carry out all plans with the minimum of disruption so that the school can continue to focus on teaching and learning.

More @ https://www.fortismere.haringey.sch.uk/news/?pid=97&nid=4&s...

I can't help but think this is a lot of money to spend on one school when there are many schools in the borough with comparable challenges particularly those in the east of the Borough which do not enjoy the levels of educational success that comes from living in a relatively affluent catchment area.

Two things stand out in the schools thing. The first is that the children are not allowed out to request the healthiest high street in the borough, perhaps even in London. Surely given the standards at this school and the catchment this is not too much to ask? The other thing is that the value of the land that the school occupies is not apparent, just the value of the mortgage. I would also say that an academisation company will be put off by this debt.

John, apparently there's a past PFI  deal with is inactive or suspended because Jarvis went into adminstration.) (You'll know the correct terminology.) I'm wondering what happens if and when the school starts realising land assets? Do the administrators ask for a cut?)

In reply to Osbawn's question about other schools needing capital funds.

Fortismere School decided to become a Foundation School. This means it is funded by central government, which meets all capital and running costs. The governing body employs the staff.

My understanding is that the Governing Body also owns the school's land - in Fortismere's case, some twenty acres. If you want to see what they own, Clive Carter has put together some aerial photos. While Martin Ball spent part of a Sunday taking photos from outside the school fences.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/131478208@N05/albums/72157704689932485

The questions then arise of why Fortismere have come to Haringey Council for a major slice of the Council's capital reserves. And how Joe Ejiofor got involved in that plan.

Joe is no longer on the Fortismere Governing Body. But plainly when he was a Governor then, wearing his governor 'hat' he was fully entitled to take part and support the school's plans. But he should have - and presumably did - separate that entirely from his elected role as a councillor and as Claire Kober's Deputy Leader and now Leader.

He should have declared and "recused" himself from any Council meetings or discussions where he may have had a conflict of interest. Again I would have assumed that he did so. Though that remains to be confirmed. There are some suggestions that he may have raised the possibility of cash for Fortismere under the last Council.

But far more worrying is how the proposed £35.9 million suddenly appeared in the Council's budget papers. The school's website mentions joint Haringey/Fortismere "Board" meetings - from 2016. Who was at those meetings? Who authorised the meetings and who attended from Haringey?

Does either the school or the Council have proper minutes? I can't find them. After all, when there's a discussion about millions of pounds of public cash and twenty acres of the most valuable land in the borough I'd expect some careful recording. This is not a chat about a bike shed.

And yes, Osbawn, there are many other Haringey schools and other buildings - which have not been transferred to unaccountable unelected Boards - and which also need maintaining or rebuilding. The Council can't spend the money twice.

Thank you Alan. Indeed lots of questions to be answered and clarifications needed. 

Could the funding have been granted under delegated authority? We had something similar happen here locally when funding was swilled into a budget for an initiative for which there was a questionable need. I tracked what happened on that occasion through published cabinet papers. 

I don't know, Hugh.

In the distant days before 1 January 2019  when Zena Brabazon was still a Haringey "cabinet" member she asked  Dear Leader Joe what was going on. Apparently he was not forthcoming. So she made a formal Member Enquiry. And although a reply was promised for today, I gather it hadn't arrived by lunchtime.

I very much doubt there have been key decisions made by delegated authority. It is inconceivable that "cabinet" councillors who are asked to make a budget decision about £35.9m would have had that information kept secret from them. At least I hope so.

It was bad enough that - as far as I'm aware from what was published online - there were no relevant public cabinet papers; and no maps and plans; no costings; and no feasibility reports. And not even some sketchy published outline of the legal mechanism - "vehicle" - to enable the cash and legal titles to be channeled to and fro between: the school which owns the land; the developers, and Haringey Council who are, in effect, the stewards of the huge sum of public money involved.

Your officer delegation query prompts further questions. What about any expenses which have already been incurred? For example: who paid for the  feasibility study? And for any legal advice needed on the mechanism for the "vehicle"?  Has it been set up?

Once more unto the breach dear citizens. Or r close the funding gap with our public cash. The reckless gamble by a Council which is no stranger to highly risky gambles. I'm told that similar to classic Claire Kober mode, Joe Ejiofor has scorned the risks pointing out that all projects have risks.

Sure Joe. Then risk your own cash. Not to mention there are low risk bets and high risk bet it all the Muswell Hill Local Lottery. What could possibly go wrong?

Dear me, what is it about the hillier parts of our borough - anyone might conclude that the cream money rises to the top.

So does scum :-)

Just saying.

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