Haringey Labour: Momentum-backed council candidates make gains

Haringey Labour: Momentum-backed council candidates make gains

Haringey Council cabinet member Alan Strickland, one of the main advocates of the Labour administration’s extensive redevelopment programme, could be replaced as a candidate for next May’s borough elections after he lost a re-selection ballot last night. Three other sitting councillors supportive of the plans failed to secure the support of a majority of ward branch members needed to go forward automatically to defend the seats they hold and they too will face challenges from other prospective candidates.

The outcomes of selection votes held in five ward branches last night suggest that the balance of opinion within the Labour Group could swing against the redevelopment plans after next year’s election, making its future unclear. The programme is intended to be delivered by a joint venture company – the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) – to be formed on a 50/50 basis by the council and private developer Lendlease.

Strickland lost his shortlisting ballot for Noel Park ward by 24-19 and his colleague Stephen Mann by 23-21. On London understands that Emina Ibrahim, currently a sitting councillor for Harringay ward and national vice chair of Momentum, the campaign group formed to back the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, was voted on to the shortlist of challengers to fight the seat instead of them. Ibrahim failed to be shortlisted for Seven Sisters ward last week, where council leader Claire Kober was re-selected.

In West Green ward, two more councillors who back the redevelopment programme, Eugene Ayisi and Eddie Griffiths, also narrowly failed to win initial re-selection votes. There is a vacancy to be candidate for the third West Green seat, creating the possibility of three anti-HDV Labour candidates being elected to represent the ward next year.

In both Tottenham Green and Bruce Grove wards, two sitting councillors opposed to the HDV were re-selected with the third councillors from each ward standing down. The vacancies will be filled in the next few days. In White Hart Lane ward, all three sitting councillors, all of them opposed to the HDV, were reportedly re-selected.

On Monday, two other anti-HDV candidates were installed to fight Woodside ward after winning selection ballots. One, Mark Blake, is already a councillor for Muswell Hill ward. He and Lucia das Neves will seek election for Woodside next year in place of Ann Waters, who is voluntarily standing down, and Charles Wright, who has been de-selected. Both were supporters of the HDV.

An indication of the rancour inspired by disagreements over the HDV was provided by former Haringey Labour councillor Alan Stanton who wrote on Twitter: “Imagine the privilege, joy and fulfilment in casting a few votes to remove Cllr Alan Strickland & his #HDV pals from public life on Haringey Council”.

The tweet was re-tweeted by the Stop HDV campaign, a coalition of Momentum adherents, Green Party, Socialist Workers Party and trade union activists. The local Liberal Democrats, who form the eight-strong opposition group on the Labour-dominated council, also oppose the HDV. They have said they will run “a full slate” of anti-HDV candidates in the borough elections next spring.

Another anti-HDV Twitter account, entitled Haringey £2bn Gamble, last week congratulated a re-selected councillor for his part in de-selecting housing and tenants rights campaigner Lorna Reith, who had backed the HDV, seemingly despite his paying her a tribute. 

Others hoping to become council candidates in the coming weeks, having been approved by the Labour local campaign forum, include Julie Davies, who attracted unfavourable publicity in 2012 after it emerged that she had been paid over £300,000 by the council as a teacher despite not having taught for 12 years. She was instead working as an official of the Haringey National Union of Teachers under an agreement of a type struck between numerous local authority employees and trade unions. In 2014, Davies was suspended by the council over claims that she had breached its code of conduct, though her supporters claimed she was victimised for being an effective union rep. She was eventually reinstated. The website of Haringey NUT lists her as its president.

The full list of approved prospective Labour candidates is below

Updated at 15:25 with confirmed numbers for the Noel Park vote and correction of a careless error in the section about Julie Davies’s pay. Apologies for that. Must get more sleep.

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