Motion F: Haringey Development Vehicle
Proposer: Cllr Engert
Seconder: Cllr Morris
This Council notes the recent collapse of Carillion PLC and its impact on the current housing regeneration scheme in Sunderland and the risk this poses to Sunderland City Council and local taxpayers.
Further notes the similarities the situation in Sunderland has with the joint venture with a large private company in Haringey through the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).
This Council believes:
This Council resolves
The Mayor invited Councillor Engert to move the motion.
In moving the motion, Councillor Engert regretted that the Labour Amendment did not provide residents with certainty by being conclusive on the HDV, instead seeking to ensure political unity. She felt the HDV should have been ended earlier, following the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s reports. She did not agree with the assessment in the Council’s response that Lendlease posed a low risk compared with Carillion. She believed it was the time for the Council to take a decision to give residents certainty, and called on Members to agree the motion without amendment.
Seconding the motion, Cllr Morris set out that the Liberal Democrats had last called an extraordinary meeting in 2009, did not take a decision lightly. She regretted that the Cabinet had not heeded opposition to the HDV and that there had not been opportunity for the public to vote on it. She believed an alternative policy of a wholly owned company, which may build fewer houses and slower, would meet the needs of residents.
Moving the amendment to the motion, Councillor Kober was concerned that the enthusiasm of a minority opposed to the HDV overshadowed the view of the majority of residents who sought to see increased levels of improved housing. She set out the scale of the housing challenge and still believed the HDV was the best available solution. In light of the forthcoming purdah, a final agreement on the HDV would not be possible and she hoped the new administration would approach issues with an open mind.
Seconding the amendment, Councillor Strickland rejected the motion and mentioned that the status quo was affecting people’s health and wellbeing, and that the HDV was one of a number of approaches being taken to regeneration. He drew attention to the report before Members stating that decisions on the HDV had been taken lawfully and that Council could not take an executive decision, as suggested by the motion.
Councillor Connor said that she wanted the HDV to be debated by the Council, and that opposition had grown to the scheme as it had been scrutinised further. The HDV would not help with the housing waiting list, but would worsen it. The proposal of a wholly-owned housing company would better deliver against residents’ wishes. Rather than delay a decision, as the amendment suggested, she called for the motion to be agreed without amendment.
Councillor McNamara sought to correct two points made, first that the thought Scrutiny work was not spearheaded by the Liberal Democrats. Second, as made clear by the report, the Council should also be mindful of the power it had in relation to executive decisions, and the need to not bind the hands of an incoming administration.
Councillor Carter did not agree that the HDV was distinct from Carillion and Siglion. There was a general lesson to be learned that a large company can soon become bankrupt. He was concerned that the Council’s governance arrangements did not provide enough of a check on a strong executive, and feared that the HDV would be dominated by the private sector partner.
Councillor Ibrahim clarified that the Liberal Democrats did not oppose the HDV when it was first proposed, nor in principle during the scrutiny process. She felt it would be misleading to suggest the Council meeting could stop the HDV, which was an executive responsibility.
Councillor Hare noted the decision to delay agreeing the HDV was not taken until the extraordinary meeting was called. He was concerned at the effect on businesses by the Council’s regeneration plans and the lack of commitments to them. He felt the type of housing that would be delivered by the HDV would help grow the council tax base, rather than reduce the housing waiting list. Finally, he thanked some of the people who had campaigned against the HDV.
Responding to the debate, Cllr Engert noted that the Leader of the Council would be in post until the Council’s Annual Meeting, meaning an agreement with Lendlease could be made and be binding on the Council. She felt the HDV would have the long-term consequences of the Private Finance Initiatives, which were still causing pressure on the National Health Service. She had not been opposed to a smaller joint venture, mindful of the Council’s role a guardian of public property.
Following a request made by eight Members standing in their place, the Mayor agreed that a named vote be held on the amendment.
The Mayor then called a vote on the amendment. There being
46 votes in favour (Councillors Adamou, Adje, Ahmet, Ayisi, Amin, Arthur, Berryman, Bevan, B Blake, M Blake, Brabazon, C Bull, G Bull, Carroll, Christophides, Demirci, Diakides, Doron, Ejiofor, Elliott, Gallagher, Goldberg, Griffith, Gunes, Hearn, Ibrahim, Jogee, Kober, Mallett, J Mann, S Mann, McNamara, McShane, Mitchell, Opoku, Ozbek, Patterson, Peacock, Rice, Sahota, Stennett, Strickland, Tucker, Vanier, Waters and Wright) and
8 against (Councillors Beacham, Carter, Connor, Engert, Hare, Morris, Newton and Ross) and
The amendment was CARRIED.
Following a vote on the motion as amended, there being 46 Councillors in favour and 8 Councillors opposed with no abstentions, the motion as amended was AGREED.
This Council believes:
· Investment is required to improve the borough’s council housing estate
· Any regeneration scheme needs to protect tenants, leaseholders and local businesses and put them at its heart
This Council notes:
· That we are still awaiting a judgement from the High Court in response to last October’s judicial review of the Haringey Development Vehicle
· That the Council’s pre-election ‘Purdah’ period will start shortly
This Council further notes:
· The Leader of the Council’s announcement, communicated to all Councillors on 30th January, that she does not intend to make a final decision on the set-up of the Haringey Development Vehicle prior to the beginning of the pre-election period on 26th March
· That the final decision on the set-up of the Haringey Development Vehicle will therefore be made by the administration formed following the Borough elections in May 2018.