Haringey Lib Dem leader slams ‘sheer incompetence’ as council fails to list commercial properties

Luke Cawley-Harrison questions why the council could not provide him with up-to-date list of commercial property it owns, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Haringey Civic Centre and (inset) Luke Cawley-Harrison
Haringey Civic Centre and (inset) Luke Cawley-Harrison

The opposition leader at Haringey Civic Centre has called it “laughable” that the council has been unable to provide him with a list of the commercial property it owns.

Commercial property includes any property used to make a profit and Liberal Democrat group leader Luke Cawley-Harrison recently approached Haringey Council’s property management estates lead via a member enquiry to find out more about what it held.

But Cllr Cawley-Harrison was told the council did not “currently” hold an “accurate up to date list”, with the most recent list dating from 2019. 

He was told the list was “being reviewed” as part of the council’s “property improvement process” to ensure accuracy, identify property data held, how it was maintained, and what needed to happen to ensure the list was “accurate moving forward”.

Reacting to the response, Cllr Cawley-Harrison said: “This reflects sheer incompetence from Haringey’s property team. I have no idea how an organisation can just not know what property it owns. 

“Commercial property should be providing an income for the council during these cash-strapped times, yet we don’t even know what we own. This situation would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.”

Ruth Gordon, cabinet member for house building, placemaking and local economy, has said work is being done to rectify the situation and acknowledged the important role the council’s commercial property portfolio played in delivering services to residents. 

She said: “That’s why last April [2023] we agreed a far-reaching asset management plan and over the past twelve months, implementation is already showing significant improvements in the management of the portfolio and has resulted in increased revenue to the council for the benefit of council taxpayers.”

Prior to Cllr Cawley-Harrison’s findings an independent report from December 2022 had looked into the council’s property holdings and concluded the team had “failed to keep proper records”. 

Cllr Gordon said the council continued to ensure all its commercial property was utilised “to provide the best return” and said they were “on track” in implementing their “agreed action plan”. 

She said: “Our focus will remain on ensuring our commercial assets provide value for money for the council and residents and are benefitting the whole of the borough.”

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