From Stop the HDV Campaign
Most readers will now know about the judgement handed down by Justice Ouseley on 8 February which of course disappointed us in this first outcome, in refusing to find in favour of our four grounds against the HDV. However it is clear from the judgement that not only are there strong grounds for going to the Court of Appeal but that much of our argument, on consultation for instance is fully justified, and the judge admits that had Haringey consulted directly on the HDV its ability to be continued may well have been quite different.
Rowan Smith of Leigh Day says “This judgment, although bitterly disappointing, is very timely, given the recent controversy surrounding the involvement of private companies in the delivery of public services. The headline point is that the court agreed with us that the Council was under a duty to consult the residents of Haringey about the establishment of the HDV, and just as importantly that such a consultation would have made a difference. Seemingly, it is a technicality around the date when that duty arose which has deprived those residents of the opportunity to express their views, which are likely to have been overwhelming against the proposals. The judge also recognised the merit in, and gave extensive consideration to, our argument concerning whether the Council has the legal power to set up the HDV as an LLP. Our client, the Stop HDV campaign group, will appeal this judgment against the political back drop of the resignation of the Council's leader, the Labour Party's [NEC's] recommendation that the plans are halted, as well as the opposition party's call for a vote to stop the HDV. Our intention is to now write to the Council to ask for confirmation that contracts with Lendlease will not be signed until the conclusion of the appeal.”
The appeal is now being prepared for submission in seven days, and it is vital for other places as well as Haringey that the higher court can examine how a Cabinet can get away with such a blitzkrieg approach to redevelopment, undisclosed financial risk, and sale of local authority assets, without due consideration by its own Council, and proper involvement of local residents in their own future.
There will very shortly then be another round of crowdfunding required as costs of the first action have been met, and lawyers have worked very hard as their main impulse to help this case. So please be ready for this and let others know when it comes. The political battle has of course come round very much in favour of stopping the HDV, but it remains really important for the future of social housing and of Councils decision-making - local democracy in fact - that this goes the legal distance to reverse this means of destroying communities.
I feel that as parliamentary boundary changes are severing connections between parliamentary constituencies and councils, and First Past the Post voting system is likely to increase the dominance of global capital in British politics over local democracy, this case points to a case study for why Labour should more clearly oppose boundary changes and support Proportional Representation.
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