Cllr Alan Strickland is – for the moment – Haringey Council’s ‘Cabinet Member for Housing Regeneration and Planning’ and has therefore been a key player in the ‘HDV’, the controversial ‘Haringey Development Vehicle’ that involves the handing over for demolition of thousands of social homes to a private company.
Haringey is also at the centre of a controversy because a significant number of councillors have been deselected by their members. ‘Moderates’ complain that this is a Momentum-driven ‘purge’. Members point out that there is a close correlation between councillors’ support for the HDV and deselection, while councillors who oppose it have been reselected even if more to the right of the party.
Cllr Strickland appeared, alongside award-winning journalist and anti-HDV campaigner Aditya Chakrabortty, on the London edition of the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme to discuss the HDV and the concerns of local residents.
The full segment is available on YouTube, but one part of the discussion – in which Strickland was asked whether there were any guarantees in the HDV deal about social housing numbers – was especially revealing:
Mr Strickland was asked repeatedly about social housing – but continued to repeat supposed provisions in the deal for Affordable Housing. Provisions that Aditya Chakrabortty, in another part of the conversation, says are so shot through with get-out clauses as to be meaningless anyway.
But while, to the lay-person’s ear, social and Affordable (the capital is important) housing sound similar, in fact they’re not the same thing at all.
According to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, the official definition of social housing is:
low rent, secure housing prioritised by need.
The legal definition of Affordable Housing, on the other hand, is very different.
While it can include social housing, it also includes:
It’s not hard to see that a private developer looking to maximise income is unlikely to choose social housing when the definition means it doesn’t have to – meaning that residents expecting social housing to be built and available at social housing rates are likely to be very, very disappointed.
Mr Strickland is Haringey Council’s housing lead – meaning that he ought to be fully conversant with the distinction between social and Affordable.
So either he’s not as well informed as residents have a right to expect, or he appears to be dancing around the difference between the terms.
Mr Strickland has decided to step down as a councillor after failing to win reselection in Noel Park ward, blaming ‘narrow factionalism‘ for his deselection.
His complaints have been echoed by other ‘moderate’ councillors and their supporters in Haringey – leading to claims in the print and broadcast media of a ‘Momentum purge‘ of ‘centrists’, claims which were of course regurgitated with relish by right-wing factions Labour First and Progress.
But might Mr Strickland’s confusion – accidental or otherwise – of terms central to his housing brief as shown in the video above, as well as in his alleged ‘contempt’ for various stakeholders, not be an indicator that there are many other possible reasons that Haringey residents and Labour members are deselecting councillors that support the HDV?
Cllr Strickland was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.