High Road West

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Local traders condemn ‘sham’ Council consultation for North Tottenham High Road West.

Backed by 4,000-strong local petition against demolitions, they call for a new scenario for the area

On Thursday 28th November 2013 a delegation of traders from North Tottenham High Road West addressed the Council’s cabinet meeting. They presented their 4,000-strong petition in which local people rejected the demolition of the area. The traders condemned the consultation over the future of the area as a ‘sham’ and said they had been lied to by the Council. They also condemned the report of the consultation that had excluded or sidelined most of the objections. They called on the Council to ‘freeze this planning process and sit down to design a new Scenario, one that includes this Business Community and allows it to move forward and grow within the regeneration process, not be excluded from it.’ Their powerful presentation is included below in full.

It should be noted that many Councillors are at last beginning to criticise the Council’s plans. At the meeting, Cllr Meehan refered to a recent Guardian expose which showed that THFC had a property company recently re-registered ‘offshore’ in the Bahamas – he called on the Council to condemn Tottenham Hotspur FC for buying up shops and businesses under threat, describing this as ‘making a killing’ and a ‘fire sale’. Cllr Bevan asked the traders’ rep to tell the Cabinet how a THFC official had allegedly tried to buy up local shops a year ago, telling owners they could otherwise lose everything – the official apparently showed traders some unpublished Council redevelopment plans for the area long before they had even been made public let alone consulted over. Cllr Stanton said the process of demolition and redevelopment was recognised throughout London as ‘social cleansing’. Cllr Winskill, the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee which met on the previous Tuesday, said then that ‘we are talking about a massive socio-economic transformation of the area’ and asked ‘who is the redevelopment of Tottenham for?’. At that same meeting Cllr Bull, the former head of the Scrutiny Cttee, said ‘I still have a niggling concern that we rolled over far too quickly on the section 106 on Spurs’ [in which the Council allowed THFC to abandon its agreed obligations to build affordable housing and to put 16m into the local community]. ‘It just seems like everything is Spurs, Spurs, Spurs, Spurs, Spurs at the expense of everything else.’

In reply the Council leader, Clare Kober, agreed that any ‘making a killing’ tactics by THFC’s property arm would be unacceptable. Regarding criticisms over gentrification and ‘social cleansing’ she recognised that there was ‘an affordable housing crisis’, which was a ‘crucial’ challenge ‘for ordinary working people’. The plans would be looked at again to take into account all that had been said and a new ‘masterplan’ for the area would be drawn up and consulted on in the summer of 2014.

THE TRADERS’ PRESENTATION

This business community has been part of the fabric of Tottenham in most cases for over 20 years and in some cases for more than fifty. Are we to be thrown out to make way for a Football fans Walkway?

This petition with over 4000 signatures shows overwhelmingly that local people are against this. These figures should have been added into the recent High Road West Consultation, here today for approval. The result would have been a resounding NO to your present plans. However this was not allowed to happen. When we presented it to Alan Strickland in June he neglected to tell us the petition had to be formally presented and so the figures were never included.

There has been no engagement with local business about the development of this Regeneration plan. We have been lied to and lied to by our own elected representatives.
The key decisions for this master plan were made long before the consultation. Key factors were decided at the beginning of 2012. Thats when our small businesses were sacrificed in order that one very big business could become even richer.

The demolition of our shops and businesses became a non-negotiable in every master plan scenario. Where is the Democracy in that? That is why we began this petitionto give the community a chance to show how they felt about it. An option to comment, which was not given to them in the consultation forms

Have we have come through recession and through riots to have our businesses blighted like this? Are successful businesses that we have worked and developed over many years to be snatched away and given to developers for their profit?

The consultation is a sham. It is not an independent study. Figures are inaccurate and manipulated to achieve the preferred Scenario.

The plans were misleading: marking new buildings for community use when they will in fact be retail outlets which incorporated community facilities.

The 68%, which has been widely quoted as a figure that shows overwhelming support for the demolition plans, is not justified. As a percentage of the total households on the estate it is just 40%. In the wider community of 4000 homes and businesses it is just 3% in agreement. Thats using the figures quoted in the report and of course 70 of the business replies were never included in the figures but were placed in the appendix to the consultation report.

Regeneration is not about providing a football venue or boosting land values to justify an investment. The council should not be acting like a Corporation.
Regeneration needs to create hope for the existing community by building a better neighbourhood.
Regeneration is not about moving the existing community OUT so more up-market people can move in.

In 2011, after the riots, the council ran an I Love Tottenham campaign. Its tag line was Support your Local Traders. It needs to stand by that promise today.
– Recognise the value of the established community and its contribution over many years.
– Recognise and accept the wishes of this community as presented now in this Petition.
– Freeze this planning process and sit down to design a new Scenario, one that includes this Business Community and allows it to move forward and grow within the regeneration process, not be excluded from it. ”

11.2014 – Note: Since the above, the Council has so far failed to respond to calls for genuine dialog with the threatened local businesses, or to amend their ‘masterplan’ for the area to take note of the businesses’ views.

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Statement from the Our Tottenham Organising Group – 28.11.2013

NORTH TOTTENHAM HIGH ROAD WEST CONTROVERSY DEEPENS
LARGE SCALE OPPOSITION EXPRESSED TO COUNCIL EVICTIONS AND DEMOLITION, DESPITE MISLEADING AND CONTROVERSIAL CONSULTATION AND REPORT

– Traders condemn the threat of evictions and demolition, and lobby Council Cabinet (28th Nov)
– Thousands of local people sign petition against demolitions
– Council tenants demand guarantees of better replacement Council homes in the area, if any demolition goes ahead
– Campaigners demand the Council ensure anyone evicted is rehoused in secure, genuinely affordable, local homes and fully compensated
– Campaigners re-state their calls for THFC to pay £100m for improvements to existing homes, shops and community facilities

On the 8th October the Council circulated an initial draft Report of the ‘consultation’ they carried out in May/June 2013 in the threatened area of Love Lane estate and its neighbouring shops and businesses in North Tottenham High Road (opposite the Spurs ground). The draft report was revealed to uproar at a meeting of local traders on October 8th, who condemned the report as biased. They are planning a deputation to the Cabinet meeting on 28th November to present 4,000+ signatures [figure provided to us] on their petition against demolitions. In fact the consultation responses show deep concern and mass opposition to evictions and demolitions [see Summary, below], despite the Council’s totally biased and inadequate consultation tactics [see ‘Biased consultation condemned, below] and the report’s consultants’ attempts to spin the results favourably for the planned objective – a ‘Stadium Approach’ road through the area to benefit Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) and their new 430m stadium project.

A spokesperson for the Our Tottenham Organising Group said: The Report results reveal true scale of opposition. Despite all the bias and spin, the Report results demonstrate considerable opposition to the proposals. In particular, even where demolition is apparently supported, this is clearly because the Council tenants expect re-housing for local residents in secure, genuinely affordable, new homes at the site. As fellow residents we send our solidarity to the local residents and traders, and call on the Council to work with them in a genuine partnership.

Biased ‘consultation’ condemned Campaigners from Our Tottenham and Haringey Defend Council Housing, and local traders, have condemned the consultation context and tactics. These are some of the background issues:

– The Council’s ‘Plan for Tottenham’ issued in 2012 showed a ‘Stadium Approach’ road proposed to go through the Love Lane estate
– Residents attending Haringey Defend Council Housing meetings on the estate last spring (around 50 took part to express their concerns over the threat of demolition) reported that the Decent Homes works to replace kitchens and bathrooms in the 1960s-built estate have not been done in most of the blocks, as if decisions about its future had already been made ‘from on high’.
– A key condition of allowing Tottenham Hotspur to expand its ground had been that it would have to put 16m into the surrounding area. For example this could have been used to provide improvements (eg concierges) for the Love Lane estate. The Council’s Planning Committee allowed THFC to drop this obligation after the club pleaded poverty. The Council had then agreed it would instead contribute 5m of public funds towards the shortfall by selling off land on the Love Lane estate. In reponse, Our Tottenham campaigners re-stated their calls for THFC to pay 100m for improvements to existing homes, shops and community facilities – a demand put to THFC directors during negotiations with them in July 2013.
– Original thoughts that any consultation would give people the option of saving the current estate and shops was abandoned and the 3 so called ‘consultation’ options ended up being ‘part demolition’, ‘half demolition’ or ‘full demolition’.
– However, even these biased options were not clearly put on the consultation form, so people could not add ‘none of the above’ or put a line through the 3 options. Instead the only part of the consultation form that referred to the 3 ‘options’ was a general comments box at the end which asked for comments about ‘the three options outlined in the High Road West Creating a Plan for Change’ document’ …[ie people would have to hunt out, read and digest a detailed 20pp document whilst filling in the Questionnaire] ‘…as well as any other general comments you have’.
– None of the questions on the form referred to ‘demolition’ or ‘evictions’, but instead to ‘redevelopment’ and ‘regeneration’, and gave the clear impression that local residents and shops would all benefit from improved housing and facilities.
– A Tottenham Councillor who criticised the consultation documents has since been removed from the ruling Labour Group

Summary of Report The report dated August 2013 has finally been officially published as part of the documents for the Cabinet meeting on 28th November. The report is very confusing document and the results have been presented and spun in the best possible light for the Council’s clear drive to demolish and redevelop the whole area. Consultation is increasingly seen as little more than a pro-council propaganda exercise – eg:

1. The key question was never asked, ie whether people were for or against demolitions!
2. The 3 Council options, of partial, half or total demolition of the Love Lane estate and surrounding shops, were also never explicitly put so respondents were prevented from opposing all 3 or just adding none of them.
3. The words demolition or evictions were never used.
4. All the questions painted a rosy picture of improvements and redevelopment to benefit all the members of the existing community.
5. The Council have made promises of re-housing on site for the Council tenants affected. We noted that experience of similar developments around London has shown that this rarely happens as the community gets broken up and the % of unaffordable replacements gets increased. But what would not have been clear to all is that private tenants would be made homeless and leaseholders bought out and unable to afford to stay in the area.
6. Thousands of local people have signed a local traders petition against demolitions. This was mentioned but not taken into consideration.
7. 524 consultation forms were returned, 207 from residents of the estate.
8. 62 forms filled in by local customers at a threatened shop explicitly opposed all demolitions. These 62 were sidelined in the report as a petition.
9. Unsurprisingly, in the light of some of the forms language/propaganda, and the Councils misleading promotion of the redevelopment plans, and some of the Councils promises made, some of the respondents welcomed promised improvements. For example 76 residents of the estate agreed that all properties on the estate should be included in the redevelopment plans. This has been used as the key statistic to demonstrate ‘widespread’ support for mass demolition. But many of these also expressed strong concerns about the effect on the community and also demanded that any replacement homes be Council housing and no public land be sold off. On page 37 the report says: ‘Love Lane Council tenants want to maintain their security of tenure and their existing rent levels.’
10. There was mass opposition from local shops and businesses

11.2014 – Note: Since the above, the Love Lane Residents Association has produced a report in which they call for, in the event of any redevelopment, all Council tenants to remain as such, and all other residents to be able to return to the estate. Meanwhile, the Council so far refuses to guarantee this, and has admitted it doesn’t even have a development partner or the funding for any redevelopment.