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Labour Party Haringey council leader steps down over resistance to gentrification plans

HARINGEY council leader Claire Kober announced today that she will step down because of clashes within the Labour Party over her plans to sell off public land and housing to a developer.

In a statement, she said she would be quitting in May as Seven Sisters ward councillor, chair of London Councils and, after almost 10 years, as leader of the north London borough.

Her position has come under fire over the widely criticised Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a scheme that involves transferring some £2 billion of public assets to a partnership between the council and the Australian developer Lendlease.

The divisive scheme has turned Haringey into a battleground between Momentum supporters on the left and so-called Labour “moderates.” The Labour-run borough’s cabinet approved the plan, which it said will create 6,400 homes and 20,000 jobs. It claimed that it was the only way to provide new homes, but many residents and grassroots campaigners feared that it would result in social cleansing.

Ms Kober fought off an attempt to topple her last year but saw a number of her allies deselected and replaced with Momentum-backed candidates while other councillors stepped down.

In an unprecedented move last week, Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) backed the call for the HDV to be halted, preventing Ms Kober from signing off the deal. Twenty-two Haringey councillors had written to the NEC to ask it to intervene.

Ms Kober said she would let the next council leader decide the future of the HDV, which is subject to a forthcoming High Court judgement.

In her resignation letter, she accused supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of having an “ideological dogma” that would “do nothing” to improve people’s lives.

She added: “Only a determination to find practical solutions, in partnership with other sectors, offers them any realistic prospect of a better, more secure future.”

Mr Corbyn announced at conference last year that a Labour government would block state-led “forced gentrification and social cleansing” of estates through public-private housing schemes.

Campaign group Architects for Social Housing had identified 195 council estates in the 21 Labour-run London boroughs that had undergone developer-led “regeneration” or been faced with it.

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