'Decade of austerity led to cuts to services that are vitally needed'
Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader, Haringey Council
- Credit: PA Images
In the last week there has been a lot of looking back to that tumultuous week in August 2011 which started with the shooting of Mark Duggan and ended with unrest in our borough and beyond. It is important to reflect and learn from our history. But we must not be defined by the past.
Back in 2011, it was recognised the people of Tottenham faced real structural disadvantages – racism, higher than average rates of unemployment, lower education attainment, poorer health outcomes, and overcrowding.
Both Haringey Council and the community worked hard to build on Tottenham’s strengths. Before the pandemic, fewer adults were claiming out of work benefits. Fewer children were being excluded from school. Fewer households were living in temporary accommodation.
Just last week I visited Gladesmore School in south Tottenham. The pupils I met were incredible ambassadors for their school and their community. They left me with such a feeling of hope for the future.
All this despite a decade of austerity that has led to cuts in the very services – including youth services – that are desperately needed.
So, we were going in the right direction, but the pandemic has been tough on Tottenham, with many of our residents suffering from closures in retail, leisure, and hospitality. In Tottenham’s creative sector, many self-employed residents have seen their work dry up, without access to the furlough scheme.
The relationship between the community and the police is stronger but trust levels are not where we would want them to be.
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Without additional, sustained government support there is a risk that Tottenham will go backwards economically, and the wider progress will be lost.
My cabinet and I are committed to taking the borough forward by listening to our residents and co-producing solutions with you.
We are delivering an additional 3,000 council homes in the next decade, building our youth services, ensuring every child gets the best start, tackling the climate crisis and driving a local economic recovery by supporting our high streets and town centres.
We can and will achieve transformational change, working with our residents, but we could go further and faster with more help from the government. That is why I have written to the prime minister to ask him for the resources we need to level up Tottenham.
You can read my letter on the council’s website – I’ll let you know what response I get.
Cllr Peray Ahmet (Lab) is leader of Haringey Council.