Why Haringey Council must stop Spurs playing games

Community activist Martin Ball writes for New Start on the latest developments off the pitch at Tottenham Football Club and they have impacted the local community…

The admission that the new Spurs stadium is not ready to play home matches until a month into the 2018-19 Premier League season must prompt Haringey Council to blow the whistle on 24/7 working at the stadium and the connected housing towers

After a year of round-the-clock work Haringey Council must stop Spurs continuing to play property games with the wellbeing of the Tottenham community, and force on the club a new construction timetable that means residents will get peace at night and at the weekend too. No longer should banging and grinding noises be echoing out of the building site when people should be enjoying their home life.

Residents and traders have also been subjected to considerable dirt pollution swirling around the area. An area with three schools adjacent to the construction site. But with little protection against the impact of being next to a construction site. While the health impact of the noise disturbance and the pollution will be felt longer term, it is obvious now that the nearby Tottenham area has taken a physical battering. The damage to roads and pavements is unavoidable, especially as you drive over the potholes and walk on the wonky pavements.

The impact of building a new stadium in a residential area has also felt on nearby White Hart Lane, where the supplies for the construction are stored. In addition to the ever-present noise and dirt there was a cavalier approach with pedestrian and road user safety outside the entrance to the supplies site. Only after a video of trucks entering and leaving without any safety procedure was sent to Haringey Council were traffic marshalls put in place to keep people safe. And it has twice taken community pressure for the potholes created by the trucks to be repaired. Without community lobbying, there might not have been repairs or safety measures.

To escape the charge of having abandoned Tottenham to Spurs, the council has to assert their local authority building control powers and stop the abuse of residents and the area. New restricted working hours should be the minimum of a new settlement. The residents and traders must be financially compensated for the disruption to their lives. With Park Lane residents deserving an extra amount for enduring living facing a high wall of sea containers across from their terraced homes.

But can Haringey Council rein in Spurs after years of failing to do that. Throughout the slow process to build a new stadium Haringey Council have failed to stand up for the Tottenham community. They have let Spurs off planning monies for local infrastructure, let them off providing any so-called affordable flats in the housing towers next to the stadium, and let them demolish historical buildings along the Tottenham High Road. Not forgetting conceding to a demand for a bigger stadium now lording it over the community.

These concessions have not been enough for Spurs. Even after the council has given public money for pavement improvements and building work, the club come back to say the appearance of the area is detrimental to their stadium and demand the council spend more public money on improvements. This is code for the demolition of the Love Lane council estate that houses hundreds of residents across the road from the new stadium. The Spurs view is that the estate doesn’t make the area look good. Maybe they prefer a walkway for fans to get to-and-from a new White Hart Lane station with shops and private flats above was built.

The community has to keep hoping the council will finally be on the side of residents and traders. Tottenham has suffered much from Spurs construction, and now Spurs must pay back the community. Only then can there be fairness in the relationship, and the community have some trust that the council serves them and not property developers.

The promise by new Haringey leader, Cllr Joe Ejiofor of ‘a change of direction, a change of emphasis, a change of priorities’ might have made residents and traders optimistic that things will be different. Yet one of his first acts as leader was to visit the Spurs for a construction update and to pose alongside senior council officers for publicity photos. More business-as-usual, and not a needed break with the policy of appeasing Spurs.

It seems from the outside that the relationship between Haringey Council and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is as cosy as when the club gave the regeneration team money to attend the MIPIM 2014 gathering of international property developers in Cannes. ‘Plus ca change’ as Tottenham residents and traders might observe in response to Cllr Ejiofor’s promised change.

Martin Ball
Martin Ball is active in various Tottenham community groups and comments on developments in the area via @MartinBallN17


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