Haringey: ‘Corbyn Council’ cabinet line-up takes shape

by Dave Hill

The borough elections went pretty well for Labour overall, but it seems significant that their two worst results in terms of losing seats suggest rejections of directions the party has gone in since Jeremy Corbyn became its leader in 2015: in Barnet, which Labour had high hopes of winning, they ended up with five fewer seats than in 2014 due largely to concerns about antisemitism in the party; and in Haringey, where a campaign by Momentum and various non-Labour allies, saw the replacement of many sitting councillors by candidates more to Corbynite taste, Labour did even worse, comfortably retaining control of the council but winning six fewer seats than four years ago.

Now, the new administration, dubbed by a local activist the nation’s first “Corbyn Council”, must set about delivering its fairly muted but nonetheless very Jeremy manifesto. From lists in circulation that have come my way, the likely make-up of the new Haringey Council cabinet and their responsibilities looks to have been decided. Nothing is yet official and changes could still be made. But information I’ve received has been pretty consistent and suggests the following cabinet appointments and roles.

Leader: Joseph Ejiofor

The new Labour Group elected Ejiofor its leader in a four-way contest last weekend, thereby ensuring that he will lead the council too. A member of Momentum’s national co-ordinating group, he was previous leader Claire Kober’s deputy. According to a detailed internal Labour document, Ejior’s responsibilities will also include communications and corporate governance, strategy and performance – these are as you might expect, but will be of crucial importance to the credibility of the “Corbyn Council”.

Also listed in Ejiofor’s job description are “external partnerships”, “strategic transport” and “inward investment”, something that might prove quite tricky to deliver, given that a large majority of the new Labour Group have declared themselves opposed to the substantial inward investment promised by the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) joint venture scheme the previous administration wanted to pursue with regeneration giant Lendlease – a plan that ultimately led to their downfall. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, the hostility directed at the HDV by Momentum-dominated Haringey Labour has not sent an encouraging signal to potential private investors in the borough, some of whom might already have decided to take their money elsewhere.

Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Housing Planning and Estate Renewal: Emine Ibrahim

Ibrahim, who sometimes spells her forename “Emina“, is national vice chair of Momentum and said to be a close ally of its founder, Jon Lansman. She was strongly opposed to the HDV, believing that the council should look at setting up a wholly-owned private housing company rather one owned 50/50 with a commercial developer. The advantage of the various forms of local housing companies that many London boroughs have set up is that they have more freedom to borrow private capital than local authorities are allowed to in their own right. Ibrahim’s job description, according to one document, also covers engaging with the local private rented sector, partnerships with the Homes for Haringey ALMO and local social landlords, tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, and responsibility for the current Broadwater Farm estate redevelopment project, which involves significant work on potential structural problems.

Adult Care & Health: Peray Ahmet

There are variations on the job title floating around, but the responsibilities look to include adult social care – a major area of every borough’s responsibilities – disability support, public health, mental health and the local health and care devolution pilot. Ahmet held the environment brief under Kober until she resigned, having changed her position on the HDV in advance of the re-selection process. A longstanding personal friend of Ibrahim.

Children & Families: Elin Weston 

Weston was one of the few pro-HDV councillors to survive the attempts of Momentum et al to get rid of her. She is said to have badly wanted to keep this role, which she held under Kober. It covers early years provision, schools and education, adoption, fostering, looked-after children and those with disabilities and additional needs.

Civic Services: Zena Brabazon

An intriguing hybrid brief according to the documents, taking in customer services, “transformation programmes”, libraries, culture and leisure, along with equalities and responsibilities for a proposed fairness commission and landlord licensing. Also listed is a “redevelopment project” for the Northumberland Park estate, which would have been redeveloped under the HDV plan. On the face of it, this and landlord licensing belong in Emine Ibrahim’s territory. It would be interesting to know why it isn’t. Brabazon was, by a large margin, the choice of the strongly Momentumite Labour ward branch delegates, to be Group leader, but councillors, a more diverse electorate, were not so keen.

Community Safety: Mark Blake

Police engagement, antisocial behaviour, youth services, youth offending, the Prevent programme and tackling violence against women and girls all fall to anti-HDV Councillor Blake.

Corporate Services & In-Sourcing: Noah Tucker

Tucker used to run a website called 21st Century Socialism with his brother Calvin. He is the brother of housing activist Pilgrim Tucker, who became prominent in the media after Grenfell, and the son of sculptor William Tucker, a member of the Royal Academy. Tucker joined Labour after Corbyn was elected its leader and became a councillor after winning a by-election in October 2016. In June of that year, prior to becoming a candidate, he had argued forcefully that complaints about antisemitism in Labour were “part of an orchestrated campaign” to undermine Corbyn and prepare the ground for an internal coup against him. Tucker’s responsibilities look set to include human resources and “staff wellbeing”, emergency planning, “corporate property”, including the council’s commercial property portfolio, as well as a programme for in-sourcing the delivery of services.

Environment: Kirsten Hearn

Another unsuccessful leadership hopeful, Hearn will be in charge of waste, recycling, street cleaning, parking, parks and open spaces, air quality and “carbon management”.

Finance: Pat Berryman

A former City trader, Berryman’s responsibilities are listed as council finances and budgets, procurement, commercial partnerships and delivering important manifesto pledges about council tax reform.

Strategic Regeneration: Charles Adje

Another wide-ranging brief, encompassing the broadest definition of “regeneration”. It covers the Wood Green and Tottenham area action plans, the latter including the redevelopment by Lendlease of the Love Lane estate within the High Road West regeneration area (across the road from Tottenham FC’s stadium). It also embraces “town centre management” in general, plus policies on unemployment and worklessness, adult learning and skills, “business engagement” and accommodation strategy”.

That’s all I have for now. I’m confident it reflects the current state of play. We’ll know for sure how the “Corbyn Council” cabinet posts and responsibilities have been allotted in the coming days.

 

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