Independent auditors, BDO, have revealed that Haringey Labour wasted millions of taxpayers money over 2019/20, stating at a Corporate Committee meeting that they had found ‘too many’ errors in Haringey’s accounts.
One notable low-point was the council’s acquisition of its own offices in Alexandra House, which was bought for over double its market value. The building was estimated to be worth £10 million as office space, but the council forked out £22 million - including £6 million on a worthless shell company.
The auditor’s report was scathing, concluding that governance arrangements for the acquisition were weak; that an ad hoc process had failed to raise the matter at appropriate times; that there was a lack of documented evidence over what decisions were taken and by whom; and that not all options had been considered with a fully thought out business case. He said in the meeting that “In many ways you’ve [the council] been held to pay a bit of a ransom.”
Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison (LD – Crouch End), Leader of the Haringey Liberal Democrats, said:
“This is a dreadful and incredibly serious failure of due diligence. In relation to Alexandra House, the council’s auditor told us that ‘somebody’s done quite well out of this transaction’. Unfortunately that somebody is not the residents of Haringey, who have had millions of pounds of their hard-earned money wasted by the council.
“Haringey Labour has an awful record of throwing away taxpayers’ money, and after overpaying for this building by more than double its value, it doesn’t look like anything is changing. The Labour Party in our borough simply cannot be trusted with public money. It is vital that more details on this transaction are released and heavily scrutinised: who at the top table signed off the sale; what private meetings did they have; and why did they take the actions they did?”
- (Public Pack)Second Dispatch - Statement of Accounts 2019-20 Agenda Supplement for Corporate Committee, 17/03/2021 19:00 (haringey.gov.uk) (p 184)
- (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Corporate Committee, 17/03/2021 19:00 (haringey.gov.uk) (pp 127-128)