Tottenham regeneration: a ten-year-old asks the tough question

Rebecca Ellis, of White Hart Lane, talks with Cllr Alan Strickland

Rebecca Ellis, of White Hart Lane, talks with Cllr Alan Strickland

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Haringey Independent: Photograph of the Author by

A crying ten-year-old asked the council why her home was being demolished at the launch of Tottenham’s regeneration plans.

The event, held by Haringey Council to celebrate its Tottenham Strategic Regeneration Framework, included a ‘Question Time’ session.

Although originally the panel at Tottenham Town Hall was only due to only answer a selection of submitted questions, it was soon forced to answer questions from angry audience members.

The trickiest came from Summer Gomez-Sullivan, of White Hart Lane.

Her home above the tattoo parlour run by her father, Robert Sullivan, is set to be knocked down under the council’s plans for Tottenham’s High Road West area.

Councillor Alan Strickland, cabinet member for regeneration and housing, said he understood the demolition was “incredibly difficult and traumatic”, but that “residents, on the whole, supported the proposals”.

Paulette Hamilton, chairman of the Love Lane Residents’ Association, said: “We’re the first people that will be transported out of Tottenham, and many to different places”.

The first submitted question, from former councillor Zena Brabazon, pointed out that the Tottenham community was already incredibly mixed, and asked what the council meant when they talked about “mixed communities”.

Lyn Garner, director of regeneration, planning and development, agreed that Tottenham was “a wonderful community”, but added that it has “some problems”.

She said some parts of the area lacked “opportunities”, and some had “very low educational results” - but that the council was working hard to change these things.

Cllr Strickland agreed, saying "horrendous inequalities" were "not good enough”.

Calling the London housing market "a joke", Cllr Strickland said his ambition was for “more council housing, more affordable housing, more shared ownership” that would help get people “stable” in Tottenham.

In response to a question from Martin Ball on whether the Mayor’s new “housing zones” would have the same planning regulations as the rest of the borough, Ms Garner said: “The short answer to that is yes, it will have exactly the same planning rigour as any of the other developments”.

The council will put in a bid for money from the Mayor’s office to build new housing Tottenham Hale, and Ms Garner said there would be a consultation process carried out as usual.

She said the current plan was for a mixed tenure development, with 50 percent of the properties open to market rents, and 50 percent marked as “affordable”, including both rent and shared ownership schemes.

Answering a question from the floor about the lack of adult education provision, Keith Brown, chairman of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, explained that the government had cut funding for any courses not ending in a qualification.

He said: “People don’t realise how steep the cuts have been. The college’s budget used to be £52 million, two years later and it’s now £38 million.”

Despite many more people wanting to ask questions the meeting was brought to a close with staff dimming the lights in the hall.

One business owner had the final say when he stood up and said Tottenham residents needed to make sure they were speaking to the councillors regularly.

He said: “We are the silent majority. Go to their surgeries. The silent majority needs to wake up.”

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