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“A vote delayed is a voice denied” – Lib Dems call for ballot on Broadwater Farm demolitions

Haringey Liberal Democrats have condemned a decision by Labour-led Haringey Council to demolish two blocks on the Broadwater Farm estate without balloting residents.

A meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 13th November approved a report that recommends the demolition of the Tangmere and Northolt blocks and pushes the offer of a ballot into the future. This despite a petition of 70 residents in the affected blocks calling for a ballot before any decision is made.

Ballots prior to estate regeneration has been a signature issue for the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. In 2017 he told the party’s conference that “councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.” The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made holding ballots a condition of receiving GLA funding. Locally, Haringey Labour’s manifesto for the 2018 local elections made a pledge on “balloting tenants and leaseholders on development proposals affecting them”.

Despite this, it appears that Haringey Council and the Mayor have agreed behind-closed-doors that there will be no ballot until after a decision to demolish has already been taken. The Council’s report says a ballot prior to demolition is inappropriate because it would be in regard to a matter with “a health and safety issue with significant financial implications”.

Cllr Dawn Barnes, Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson on housing, expressed concern:

“Offering a ballot but only after the decision to demolish has been made, doesn’t give residents any choice. It says ‘it’s the Council’s way or the high way’.

“As the Council admitted in its report from July, there was another option that satisfied ‘health and safety concerns’, which was strengthening the existing buildings. The choice between that and demolition and rebuild should have been offered to Broadwater Farm residents.

“Estate ballots were a foundational tenet of Corbyn’s Labour Party. Seeing Haringey Council and the Mayor abandon them so fast sends a worrying message about how much faith can be put in their other pledges.”

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