Opinion: Haringey – a council in crisis

Haringey Council has a terrible reputation for failure. The tragic child protection scandals of Victoria Climbe and Baby Peter and the 2011 riots which started in Haringey are just some examples of the many crises in the borough.

Haringey Council has been mismanaged by Labour for the last 41 years and frequently tries to persuade sceptical residents that these problems are in all in the past. But the last month has seen a succession of bad news stories that have further battered the reputation of the crisis-hit council.

Children’s services still in trouble

Two local parents recently won a High Court case against Haringey Council for the appalling way their family was treated by children’s services. The judge delivered a scathing verdict on the council, which had abused its legal powers wrongly launching an investigation on the basis of scant evidence.  Residents are rightly questioning how much time and money Haringey Council wasting pursuing cases like these when there are so many urgent child protection cases.

The Labour council has also faced a damning verdict from an independent inquiry into their failure to provide all children with a good education.  Local families have known for years that local schools are falling behind those in neighbouring boroughs. The independent report, written by a former headteacher, found that “some schools in Haringey are successful in spite of rather than because of the services” provided by Haringey Council.

Failing to get the basics right

Haringey’s roads and pavements are in a terrible state after decades of neglect. This month there was a tragic case in the press of a local man who won £1m in compensation from Haringey after sustaining permanent brain damage tripping over a pothole.

Unbelievably, the council’s mortuary also hit the local headlines last week after it was revealed that they had lost a human organ for 10 months. This was one of three very serious incidents that the Human Tissue Authority investigated, leading to a damning report on the council’s failure to run the service effectively. I can’t even begin to imagine how much anguish this failure caused the families whose loved ones were the victims of these mistakes.

Another costly error is Haringey’s failure to get their accounts signed off until the 11pm on the last working day before the legal deadline due to multi-million pound errors.  An independent report on the fiasco found that lack of oversight and poor staff training were to blame.

Haringey has huge potential

Haringey residents are fed up of the failings of their council and how much of their money has been wasted as the council lurches from crisis to crisis.  But what makes people so angry is that Haringey’s huge potential is being wasted.  Haringey is a diverse, vibrant borough and has huge potential for economic growth – particularly in Tottenham.

However, this potential is being squandered by the council’s Labour leadership, which is incapable getting to grips with the borough’s many problems. Haringey needs new leadership.  If you want to help us demonstrate there is an alternative future for Haringey then please get in touch.

* Richard Wilson is Leader of the Opposition in Haringey.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • “Haringey Council has been mismanaged by Labour for the last 41” So the people of Haringey time and time again keep voting for the same party, I wonder why?

  • Oops I missed part of the quote “Haringey Council has been mismanaged by Labour for the last 41 years and frequently tries to persuade sceptical residents that these problems are in all in the past”.

  • MICHAEL COLE 29th Mar '13 - 12:00pm

    We have to persuade the voters, in Haringey and nationally, that Labour does not have a monopoly of compassion. The gross incompetence of Labour (in Haringey it has often been unbelievable) over many years has increased suffering, poverty and lack of opportunity for all, and especially the less privileged members of our society. Compassion without competence is worthless.

    It seems to be common wisdom that Labour will be the largest single Party after the next General Election. This will be a disaster for this country but it is not inevitable. We must demonstrate and expose at every opportunity, both locally and nationally, that we have all paid a heavy price for Labour’s incompetence.

    I view, as I’m sure many other Lib Dems do, that Labour, far from being the instrument of progress, is in fact the obstruction. It is vital that we get this message across.


    And this message has taken 40+ years to develop?

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