Just got back from visiting Tottenham where Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, was visiting the devastated high road, meeting traders, families made homeless, community leaders and local police.
However much you see on the rolling 24 hour news – there is nothing as raw as seeing for yourself and meeting those whose lives have been so directly affected by the dreadful events in Tottenham and Wood Green.
After walking down the High Road talking to traders and local people, Nick Clegg, myself, David Lammy (local MP) met with community leaders including the police, Claire Kober (Leader of the Council), Nims Obunge (Haringey Peace Alliance and local pastor), Richard Wilson (Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Haringey), local safer neighbourhood officers from the area, Tottenham Traders, Tottenham carnival and many others. The Deputy Prime Minister wanted to hear what everyone had to say – and all the contributors raised issues of great importance from communications, to underlying factors to the role of the IPCC and the police.
The meeting was private – but it was quite clear that there is a great determination by all to rebuild Tottenham – which is a great place with a great community – and which has come a very long way since the days of Broadwater Farm. Everyone in Haringey, all the politicians (cross party), the community leaders, the local police and people – put a tremendous effort into all of this. And to see this terrible trashing of twenty years hard work is tragic. But it was clear in the room – that there is still a solid partnership base in Haringey that will overcome this terrible set back.
Having met the community leaders in Tottenham – I went on to Wood Green – which also came under attack on Saturday night – or more accurately the small hours of Sunday morning. There is much less media attention in Wood Green and although the wanton criminality that took place there may have been less shocking than what took place in Tottenham – there are still many businesses that lost everything.
I met a group of traders in Wood Green Shopping City in that position – who had lost everything. Whilst I was there – shops began to close. It transpired that there were rumours running around that a gang was going to head down from Palmers Green to the Mall – and shopkeepers started shutting up shop. They are so frightened of a repeat of Saturday night. Even though the management of the Mall put out loud speaker announcements to say there was no threat, no danger – the shops just started closing.
The Big Green Bookshop has written an excellent account of what happened in Wood Green here.
As I write – Sky is covering the events in Lewisham Town Centre – as this mindless, wanton, criminality ricochets around our capital.