Enfield certainly needs more homes. There are many people, especially young people, who need homes of their own. So what they need is affordable homes. The redevelopment of Chase Farm is an opportunity to provide those homes yet the Council has accepted that only 13% of the 500 need to be affordable – rather than the 40% usually required.
The Royal Free claims that 13% is more that it can really afford and has shared the calculations (technically the Financial Viability Assessment) with the Council officers. But only the officers. Planning Committee members can’t see them and neither can we – the public – even though it’s our NHS negotiating with our Council! And this is despite judgements by the Information Commissioner and the relevant Tribunal in a case in Greenwich and in at least four other cases that the calculations should be published. The tribunal judge said publication of the calculations “would enrich the debate on an issue of considerable public importance”.
The issue here is transparency versus secrecy. Whether two public bodies should be able to reach a private understanding to keep key facts from the public. And it is the result of a drift towards NHS privatisation which obliges a world-class hospital to think like a property developer.
It appears that elected politicians – the democratically elected servants of the people – must take lessons in accountability from an unelected and unaccountable judge.
Call me naïve if you will – but I think that’s wrong.
It’s not too late to publish.