On 24 February 2020, I delivered the following speech in support of the Haringey Council budget for 2020/21 at the full council meeting:
Madam Mayor, on behalf of my constituents in Noel Park, I am pleased to support this budget delivering on this administration’s priorities such as fighting housing injustice, building a fairer economy, ensuring that every child and young person in the borough has a bright future and tackling the climate emergency.
Having grown up in council housing including a number of years in temporary accommodation, I am particularly pleased that this administration has made good progress towards delivering 1000 council homes at council rent. We have secured more than £60m funding from the Mayor of London to support this housing programme.
This borough has not seen this level of council house building programme for some 40 years. So, I am extremely proud that we are taking steps to address the housing crisis locally – a crisis that has been created by successive governments that have not invested in council house building but prioritised privatisation as part of a neoliberal orthodoxy.
We are also buying new homes to let to those in need of temporary accommodation which will improve the standard for tenants and save the Council money. I must say that this investment comes against the backdrop of 10 years of austerity where the local government has suffered the most. In Tory austerity Britain today, the taxpayer is footing the bill for £369million worth of refurbishment to just one place of residence – the Buckingham Palace. But, there is apparently no money to provide a decent home to hundreds of thousands of people in temporary accommodation and on council housing waiting list.
The magic money tree only exists for the rich and the privileged few.
In this budget, my constituents will be particularly pleased to see that we are allocating £4million to ensure that staff providing care services to adults through our partner organisations are paid at least the London Living Wage. My colleague, Cllr James will elaborate further on this.
Finally, the proposal that will make a significant difference to the lives to children in Noel Park and the borough as a whole is our investment of more than £6million in the School Streets programme to reduce pollution around our schools.
There are 63 primary schools in the borough. A school street is a timed school closure at around school opening and closing times directly outside of a school. This closure will massively reduce traffic on these roads, stop dangerous congestion outside of schools and improve air quality.
I recently joined the Parent Community Advisory Board at Noel Park Primary School and the poor air quality around the school from motor vehicles is a key concern. Unicef UK has recently produced a paper with Queen Mary University called ‘The Toxic School Run’. They have found that children are disproportionately exposed to higher doses of pollution during the school run. This invisible danger could be stunting their lung growth, increasing their risk of asthma and potentially damaging their brain growth.
I welcome the funding in this Budget to develop the School Streets programme.
I recommend that you support this budget.