NO GENTRIFICATION FOR TOTTENHAM! – The threat to people on low incomes and ethnic minorities from Haringey Council’s ‘Plan For Tottenham’
On 31st July 2012, Haringey Council announced a regeneration plan, the Plan for Tottenham, which it claims will create thousands of new homes and jobs in the wake of the riots of August 2011 (1). The small print of this plan reveals that it is actually a plan which will push up house prices and rents, reduce the amount of council housing in the area, force out small shops and drive out large numbers of the poor and members of ethnic minorities to make way for a new higher-income population. This is gentrification – people with lower incomes being forced out of an area to make way for the people with higher incomes and the middle class. Hardly any effort is being made to increase the amount of genuinely affordable, rented social housing to re-house people displaced from private housing by new quality standards and higher rents.
The signs are that Haringey Council believes it is acceptable to meet affordable accommodation targets with shared ownership or intermediate rent housing both of which are out of the price range of the lowest income families. At the same time, Haringey Council has allowed Tottenham Hotspur to go back on a promise to provide extra social housing.This is despite the fact plans are being discussed that may mean that large numbers of council homes are demolished to help facilitate the building of the new Spurs stadium. The Plan that may be adopted is to sell land on which the Love Lane/Whitehall Street estate currently stands to fund infrastructure required for the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Haringey Council is also planning to ‘regenerate’ other estates in Tottenham and urgent clarification is needed about which estates are being considered and where the residents of these estates will be re-housed. Ordinary people in Tottenham are being encouraged to support regeneration as an improvement to the area but a few years from now it may well be that a lot of them will not be around to see the alleged improvements.
In December 2012 It Took Another Riot was published by the Mayor of London’s Independent Panel on Tottenham, chaired by property developer Stuart Lipton. This report contains a passage seeming to put collective blame on the people of Tottenham for the riots and another passage that seems to partly blame Tottenham’s problems on immigration. It calls for higher rents and a greater proportion of owner-occupied properties in Tottenham. Current regeneration plans appear to follow the approach of the Independent Panel’s report. The plans look like an attempt to reduce the numbers of certain groups within the population, in response to the riots of August 2011. The plans will make it harder for lower income people to live in Tottenham and more attractive for people who work in the City of London to move to Tottenham. These riots were provoked by the misconduct of the authorities and police racism. It is an outrage that the people of Tottenham are being collectively punished for them by gentrification.
DISPLACEMENT OF PRIVATE TENANTS – HOMES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION AND IMMIGRATION
The Plan for Tottenham advocates measures to reduce the numbers of Homes in Multiple Occupations (HMOs) that will be likely to displace many members of immigrant communities.
On page 45, in regard to private landlords, it states the Council will:
‘Introduce strong controls to prevent further conversions and clustering of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).’
In brief the situation with HMOs is that homes with three or more storeys that are occupied by five or more people in two or more households must be licensed anywhere in England and Wales. Councils can refuse to license HMOs if they do not meet certain standards, for example space standards. Haringey Council has decided to bring in extra licensing of smaller HMOs in much of the Tottenham area under what is known as an Article 4 Direction. This is likely to take effect late in 2013. It means that family sized houses cannot be converted into small HMOs for only 3 to 6 (unrelated) people without permission. This will include restrictions on turning homes into bed-sits (2).Given that the standards to be imposed are quite high, this is likely to reduce quite significantly the amount of new affordable, privately rented accommodation being made available in Tottenham.
As part of its justification for this Haringey Council state of HMOs that:
‘Alongside this need for family housing are a number of factors fuelling demand for low cost private rented accommodation – such as HMOs. This has resulted in part from a sharp rise in the number of migrant workers coming to Haringey.’(3)
Basically, the Council is saying they want to impose high standards, before HMOs can be licensed in Tottenham with the intention of reducing the amount of this accommodation in the designated areas. By their own admission this would be likely to reduce the amount of accommodation available to migrants. The Council seems unworried that their proposals are likely to disadvantage a specific, stigmatised part of the community.
Imposing higher standards on private landlords would be fine if the Council was committed to re-housing low income private tenants displaced by restrictions on HMOs in new, high-quality social housing. But with no increase in the amount of low-rent social housing in Tottenham proposed, these measures just mean that people will have to move out of the area.
HIGHER RENTS FOR PRIVATE TENANTS – LINKS TO ‘THE CITY’
Even the positive aspects of regeneration generally have the effect of pushing up rents. Improvements in infra-structure, while welcome in themselves, will have the effect of increasing rents. The Plan for Tottenham includes proposals such as those for a Victoria Line extension to Northumberland Park, and a new White Hart Lane station (page 19) and plans for a new Tottenham Hale station. But on page 9 we see what is at the heart of this vision, the report says:
‘Tottenham is extremely well positioned to become a new centre for growth in north London. Just one stop away from Stratford and 20 minutes away from Liverpool Street and the City, we anticipate demand for high quality housing and flexible workspace in an attractive setting.’
New transport links are partly intended to make Tottenham an attractive area for people who work in the City. This will inevitably force rents and house prices up sky high and force out the local population in favour of a population likely to have a different social and ethnic mix. On the same page the Plan cites approvingly a 2012 GVA/Centre for Cities report, Evolving London: Future Shape of the Capital (4). The GVA is a consultancy which advises property developers. Speaking of the proposed regeneration of Tottenham, the GVA/Centre for Cities report states on page 15:
‘The speed at which this regeneration takes place will be determined by the ability of the public sector to intervene to counter low values, which currently prevent speculative development.’
It is quite clear that the property developers, the Council and the Mayor’s office are getting together to force up property values across Tottenham very significantly so that private interests can make a big profit.
We must be absolutely clear what the increase in rents will mean for ordinary people in Tottenham. According to the 2001 census 20% of households in Haringey as a whole are private renters, a figure that has probably increased since the credit crunch.
There are new caps on the amount of Local Housing Allowance payable to lower income households to help them with their rent. Once set, Local Housing Allowance is only increased in line with the general price index. It cannot be raised in line with increases in rent if rents are rising faster than the general price index (without further legislation in Parliament). This factor, combined with huge rent rises due to the regeneration proposals, will lead to large numbers of people on low incomes being forced out of the borough. Given that Tottenham was going to be one of the few affordable places left in London after the various new restrictions on housing benefit took effect, it may be that many of people on low incomes are going to be forced out of London altogether.
THREATS TO ETHNIC MINORITIES FROM HIGHER RENTS
As well as the threat to people on low incomes in general, the new plans are likely to have a disproportionately bad affect on black people and other people from ethnic minorities. In Haringey, the employment rate for 2011/2012 was 66.8% but for people from ethnic minorities, it was only 51.2% (5). The lower employment rate is due to racial discrimination in employment and education in the UK.
Not surprisingly, lack of employment impacts on the ability to pay for housing. 34% of the people in housing need in Haringey are black, 3 times the percentage in the local population (6). It is quite obvious that once rents are pushed up and low rent housing becomes more scarce, it will be black people and other ethnic minorities who will bear the brunt and will have to leave the area in a large number of cases, as they are displaced by city workers and others able to afford higher rents.
In the USA gentrification has led to a decline in the proportion of black people living in historically black communities, for example in Harlem (7) and Washington DC (8).
IT TOOK ANOTHER RIOT - A REPORT THAT MUST BE DISCARDED
It is clear that a general bias against the people of Tottenham exists among decision-makers at all levels. This bias is made most obvious in a recent report that makes scandalous comments about the people of Tottenham, while also attacking people from ethnic minorities. The report, not coincidentally, calls for higher rents and proportionally less rented accommodation compared with owner-occupied accommodation in Tottenham. This is clearly an attempt to change the social mix of the area.
Following on from The Plan for Tottenham, the Mayor of London’s Independent Panel for Tottenham released this report, It Took Another Riot in December 2012 (9). The main purpose of this report is to argue for a new ‘governance structure’ for regeneration in Tottenham. This would mean powers and budgets currently with the Council, the Greater London Authority and central government would be given to a new body with a Chair from the private sector. The report gives no indication that this new body would be directly elected by the people of Tottenham or directly accountable to them.
The thrust of the rest of the report is to argue that Tottenham is some awful place that stifles any kind of aspiration on the part of the people who live here. This is despite the fact, as the report acknowledges, there has been a big improvement in education Haringey (10). The report is full of appalling unfounded allegations about either the people of Tottenham as a whole, or unspecified groups within it.
For example, the report says:
‘Tottenham has many people who – by dint of their environment – have become angry. They have come from impoverished backgrounds, grown up in low-quality, overcrowded housing, with poor education, little fun in their lives, and very limited prospects – a context that can put them in opposition to the wider world.’ (11)
The report tries to assign collective responsibility to the people of Tottenham for the riots:
‘Yet the community must share responsibility for the riots. There is clearly a need for change from the authorities, and the majority of community organisations we have seen are assisting efforts to improve the area. But there are some groups that resist any measures to better Tottenham, whilst continually blaming others for its problems. These groups need to realise that their actions carry detrimental consequences for Tottenham’s future.’ (12)
For no logical reason at all, it tries to blame social housing for the riots.
‘In 2011 the majority of riot hotspots took place within five minutes’ walk of major estates.’ (13).
Everywhere in Tottenham High Road is about five minutes walk from a council estate. The focus of the riot was the police station which is on the High Street and the High Street shops. There is no evidence at all that residents of housing estates were disproportionately represented among the rioters.
As well, as the social housing sector, the report seems to blame the problems of Tottenham on low rent housing in general, public and private sector. It states:
‘Low rents attract transient populations, which can lead to high rates of population churn. This leads to less respect for the local environment, to disruption to schooling, to poor healthcare continuity and ultimately to higher levels of crime – all of which, in turn, depress rents, thereby perpetuating the cycle.’ (14).
Later, the report turns to the issue of immigration:
‘Tottenham sees a very high level of population churn, with large volumes of people moving into and out of the area each year. This is very damaging to Tottenham… The causes of population churn are complex, and vary from people choosing to leave low-quality dwellings, to moving for work, to being forced to move on account of being in temporary accommodation. Tottenham experiences an ‘escalator’ effect, with high levels of inbound migration by new UK immigrants, many of whom leave once they have established themselves economically. High population churn damages the urban environment, education, healthcare, housing, community identity and can create crime.’ (15).
These statements are made in the context of a report that calls for reductions in the concentration of social housing in areas of Tottenham and argues that many of the problems of Tottenham are caused by low rents. In fact the problems of ‘churn’ are caused mainly by lack of security of tenure – but this is never addressed by the various reports.
Put together, all the above statements can be seen as an attempt to say that either the community as a whole, or some unspecified ‘angry’ section of it was responsible for the riots. There is also an attempt to say that immigration is partly to blame for crime in Tottenham in general. It then implies that these problems could be helped by a dispersal of some of the people currently in lower rent accommodation via higher rents and less social housing. Passages of the report look dangerously like they are proposing a ‘soft’ collective punishment of people in some housing tenures and from some social groups in Tottenham for the riots. The rhetoric of collective responsibility by communities for the individual acts of rioters is absolutely unacceptable. Although some of the report’s ideas about a new governance structure have not yet materialised, concrete measures implemented by the Council will lead to higher rents and less socially rented housing as a proportion of the housing in Tottenham, in a worrying echo of the Independent Panel’s report. We must call on the Council to throw this report in the dustbin. Whatever worthy language it might use in some sections, at its core it is simply an attempt to make money for property developers, justified by some absolutely scandalous statements about the people of Tottenham.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR SOCIAL HOUSING IN TOTTENHAM?
‘It Took Another Riot’ suggests, without any serious evidence at all, that council housing was partly to blame for the riots. It seems that the views of the Independent Panel that wrote the report may have been having some influence on Haringey Council, even prior to its publication. On page 45 of The Plan for Tottenham it says there will be a 30 year program of regeneration for Council housing. In other boroughs such as Hackney, this has often meant the demolition of existing estates, or parts of estates, with no new Council housing being built to replace it.
We do not know how many council estates or blocks Haringey Council is thinking of demolishing in Tottenham. However, we do know that there is at least one. Haringey Council may demolish a large council estate in Northumberland Park. Secondly, as we shall see below, the new ‘affordable housing’ being planned for Tottenham in the future to replace any demolished blocks looks likely be shared ownership or intermediate housing. Both these forms of housing are designed for people who, generally speaking, work full-time at rates significantly above the minimum wage. For example, a minimum income of £21,000 appears to be required by Newlon for Shared Ownership of one or two bedroom properties in Haringey at the current time. This will exclude the unemployed and single people on the minimum wage, it is likely to exclude families with children where no wage-earner is receiving more than the minimum wage (unless there are two adults, both working full-time) as well as other low income groups.
A POSSIBLE ESTATE DEMOLITION
Haringey Council cabinet minutes indicate there are proposals to knock down some of the council housing west of the new stadium between Tottenham High Road and the overground line, i.e. the Love Lane/Whitehall St. estate and some surrounding blocks. The purpose of this is to allow the land these blocks currently sit onto be sold off to the private sector in order to raise £5 million for the various infrastructure and regeneration programmes required by Tottenham Hotspur for their new stadium.
A report for the Council cabinet on 7 February 2012 ( Funding and Investment Package for the Tottenham Regeneration Program) states:
‘A public sector investment package for the wider Tottenham area is being recommended to complement the Club’s investment proposals, linking with proposals for additional development in the NDP [Northumberland Development Project] Scheme to boost development value. The overall package of measures will give the Club the necessary confidence to secure the private investment for this £400m+ development.’ (16).
The minutes also note that:
‘the new stadium development faces a funding gap…Public sector investment is needed in the wider Tottenham area to increase public and investor confidence which can then lead to the release of much greater private sector finance.’(17).
The minutes state that the whole public sector led regeneration will cost £41.345 million (18). This money is needed in order to help support the £400 million+ that Tottenham Hotspur is raising for its new stadium. For example £8.5 million of the money for this package will fund a stadium approach linking the new stadium with White Hart Lane Station and £3.5 million will go to funding the upgrading of Tottenham Hale station necessary to deal with extra football fans that will be attracted by the new stadium (19). It is true that a lot of money will go into employment training schemes but it is also the case that many shops and industrial units had to be demolished to make way for the new Tottenham stadium.
The problem is that there is a £5 million shortfall in the proposed £41.135 million package. It suggests the possibility that this money be raised from ‘being able to apply land receipts that may arise as part of any future estate renewal in the area’ (20). The estate in question is ‘Love Lane/Whitehall Street housing estates and the neighbouring blocks’ (21) where there are 297 council properties (22).
This was not the original plan. Before the riots Tottenham Hotspur had agreed to provide £16 million for the regeneration to fund social housing, school places (for children in new housing being built as part of the stadium project) and road and rail links. However, this proposed contribution was scrapped after the riots and the public sector has been forced to pay a much higher cost (23). As is now clear this includes, potentially, a payment from the sale of land on which the Love Lane/Whitehall St. estate stands .In addition the stadium approach plan, mentioned above, would go right through the Love Lane/Whitehall Estate. Residents need reassurance that their homes will not be demolished to make way for it.
REHOUSING OF TENANTS DISPLACED BY DEMOLITION
It is not been made clear by the Council how tenants forced out by demolition will be re-housed. Could they be given housing association lets with assured tenancies on near-market rents? Could they be given five year fixed term tenancies?
There are new government rules for housing association lets. Housing associations will be able to charge up to 80% market rent on new lets, i.e. much higher than they can charge the moment. This is hypocritically described as the Affordable Rent policy. Under the Localism Act 2011 council properties can also be let on five year (occasionally two year) ‘fixed term secure tenancies’. The law states that tenants with secure tenancies who lose their homes to demolition must be given either secure council tenancies or assured housing association tenancies. This always was a problem as assured tenancies give tenants less protection from eviction than secure tenancies, although they are still permanent tenancies. However, it may be that council tenants facing demolition are now in an even worse position. It is now not clear if changes in the law mean that tenants who have their estates demolished can be rehoused in council properties with five year fixed terms, these are after all being called ‘secure’ tenancies. It is also not clear that there is any legal impediment to tenants being told to move to properties that have assured tenancies but also up to 80% market rent. Government guidance on the effects of the Localism Act does not seem to offer clarity. The guidance does say that tenants whose homes are demolished should have no less security of tenure in their new properties but the designation of five year fixed term tenancies as ‘secure’ creates a clear degree of uncertainty about this guarantee. The designation of 80% market rents as ‘affordable’ adds to further lack of clarity. Haringey Council does not seem to have clarified the issue yet either.
We must demand that if any tenant is forced out of their home by demolition they must be offered homes on social housing rents, not so-called affordable near market rents and they must be offered permanent, secure tenancies. Haringey Council must clarify this issue, in writing, as a matter of urgency.
NEW ‘SOCIAL HOUSING’ – BUT NOT FOR THE POOR
Page 13 of the 7 February 2012 report to the Cabinet indicates that the stadium proposals will mean no loss of social housing but this is not the same as no loss of council housing or genuinely affordable, rented social housing. The new Haringey Council local plan for 2013-2026 might seem fairly reassuring about social housing on first reading. But in reality this is an illusion. The Plan proposes that 50% of new housing should be ‘affordable’ split between 70% Affordable Rented housing and 30% housing with Intermediate Rent (24). However, Intermediate Rent is hardly social housing at all. Rents are typically 70-80% market rent and the tenant receives an insecure Assured Shorthold Tenancy, just like private sector tenants. As we have seen ‘Affordable Rented’ housing can also be let on near market rents and with non-permanent tenancies.
What is even worse is how Haringey Council is interpreting the notion of ‘Affordable Housing’ in a new development. Page 19 of the Plan for Tottenham talks about a new housing development to be built on the old Brook House site and to be managed by Newlon Housing (25).The proposed site of the new development is 881 High Road, Tottenham, which used to be the old Cannon Rubber Factory. The new housing development will only have 30 social homes out of 222 let as ‘social/affordable rents’. 100 homes are designated for shared ownership or possibly market sale, 92 intermediate rents for people who are working although possibly some of these will be let at market rents (26). This is despite the fact that the report the Planning Sub-Committee states that ‘significant weight’ is being given to Haringey’s Local Plan in relation to the plan for this development (27). So the Council is saying this scheme complies with the targets set out in the Local Plan. Haringey seems to be interpreting shared ownership as being included in the category of affordable rent!
The report to the Committee is quite clear that the purpose of this tenure mix will:
‘ensure a more sustainable, balanced and less transient community. It has been accepted that this is the most viable mix for this scheme, which will not only maximise the delivery of affordablehome ownership, intermediate rent for working households but also considerably assist in the long term regeneration of the area.’ (28).
This puts possible plans to knock down the Love Lane estate in a very worrying light. This demolition would potentially remove 297 council properties in Northumberland Park. The Haringey Plan identifies 410 new properties to be built in Northumberland Park up to 2026 (29). The fact is that on the Council’s figures only approximately 140 of these would be let as ‘Affordable Rent’ housing. Even of these 140, how many are going to be genuine social housing lets, wholly for rent, rather than shared ownership?
We are in a situation where the new home build in Tottenham is going to be overwhelmingly for private market rent, near private market rent, private sale or shared ownership. An increase in the proportion of owner-occupied homes is intended to change the population mix of Tottenham, reducing the numbers of poorer people in the population, as a deliberate plan of social engineering.
On page 41 of The Plan for Tottenham,it states:
‘As a growing and developing destination, Tottenham will require a mix and balance of housing to support the area’s potential – underpinning this will be a much stronger promotion of home ownership options in new schemes.’
The problem is where are the poor people displaced by efforts to create a new ‘balance of housing’ meant to go?
THE TRANSFER OF COUNCIL HOUSING TO HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS
As well as the demolition of housing estates, regeneration may mean the refurbishment of council accommodation at the price of transfer to a housing association. It has been very common across the UK for tenants to be told they can only benefit from the refurbishment of their estates if they vote for a transfer to a housing association.
This was hinted at by Haringey Council itself when it stated in August 2012 that it will:
‘Explore partnership with long-term development partner to support change in an area of significant local authority ownership.’ (30).
In general housing association rents are higher than Council rents. Housing association tenants have less protection from eviction for rent arrears than Council Housing tenants. They also do not have the same democratic oversight that exists (in theory anyway) for council housing (31).
What is even more worrying are the government proposals to allow housing associations to start letting properties at up to 80% market rents. Under government plans for Universal Credit, families will not be able to claim more than £500 a week benefits, including housing benefits (with some exceptions, e.g. for the disabled). The start date for this policy was brought forward to April 2013 for Haringey residents and the residents of a few other pilot areas. There is no actual guarantee that housing associations will keep rents low enough to prevent a breach of the new benefit cap. In London it is believed so-called affordable rents will be an average of 65% of the market rent in any given area (32). If market rents go up high enough and a family needs a 3 or 4 bedroom house, then even the average 65% market rent proposed for London housing association lets could be unaffordable for housing association tenants in Tottenham who claim benefits.
It may well be that Housing Associations will start to avoid making larger properties available for social housing tenants, knowing that Universal Credit caps will prevent the families living in them paying the rent.
Another problem arises when a family is let a property on a near market rent and then has more children. Benefits may have covered the original rent but the benefits payable for the new children, combined with the existing high rent, may put them above the benefit cap. This situation could in theory occur with social housing rents, of course, but it is a lot less likely as they are a long way below market rents.
HOMELESS TO BE MOVED OUT OF HARINGEY? SOCIAL CLEANSING AND THE EFFECT ON ETHNIC MINORITIES
Two new government policies pose an immediate danger of homeless people being ‘socially cleansed’ from Tottenham. The effects of these policies on Haringey were described in a handout given out at the Homelessness Forum on 14 September 2012 by Haringey Council. One policy is the £500 benefit cap introduced from April 2013 as part of the government’s Universal Credit benefit reform. Given high rents in London, this will have a very serious effect on larger families in Haringey.
The handout stated that:
Haringey Council will be focusing on ‘Working out where families can afford to live.’
‘452 homeless families with 3 or more children living in Haringey’s TA [Temporary Accommodation]’ [will be affected.]
‘350 families with 3 or more children living in Haringey’s private sector’ will be affected.
Of the 452 larger families in TA likely to be affected only 23 are white British, 152 are Black African, 50 are Turkish, 44 are Kurdish, 34 are other White European, 24 are Black Caribbean and 18 are Bangladeshi, 107 are Other (many of these could well be Black British as there is no separate category for people describing themselves as Black British and it is quite a popular self-designation.)
In the section entitled ‘Where families can afford to live’, the following areas are given for lone parents with 3 children or more:
3 children: 3 bed – Broxbourne/Luton, (Barking if they pay a £14 shortfall),
4 children: 3 bed – Birmingham
4 children: 4 bed (and above) – Bradford
For couples with 3 children or more the only options given are for Luton and Bradford.
Is it really the case that there should be such a seeming preference for moving people who are largely from ethnic minorities to other areas where there are large populations of ethnic minorities? How does this impact on peoples’ right to individual choice?
What is more, there are likely to be more and more homeless families housed outside London in private accommodation. Up to now people waiting for council housing could not be forced to go into private accommodation on a permanent basis, they could stay on the waiting list until a council or housing association property was available. Now that has all changed. As the Homelessness Forum handout points out:
‘Under the Localism Act, the Council will no longer require the consent of [new] applicants to discharge its homelessness duty with an offer of suitable private rented housing.’
Now, the Council will be simply able to offer private rented accommodation to discharge its duty to the homeless. (If the household presents as being in sufficient housing need in the future, they would be entitled to more assistance with finding another private let.) The big question is what will happen to larger homeless households being offered private accommodation? Will they be asked to leave London due to the benefit cap?
The position here seems very contradictory. The effect of benefit changes does point strongly in the direction of homeless families being forced out of Haringey and London in the future. Under the law, however, Local Authorities should only give accommodation to homeless families that is suitable and does not move families so far from their current location that it disrupts the education of children, prevent adults from performing caring responsibilities etc. Despite this, time after time activists and journalists are hearing of cases in London boroughs where local authorities appear to be ignoring these guidelines. We must campaign for Haringey Council to keep to legal guidelines on housing the homeless in or near their own communities and to make sure that their officers make clear to homeless people that this is their right.
THREAT TO SMALL BUSINESSES
The Plan for Tottenham is incredibly honest about the Council’s ambition to close down small businesses on the High Street to make way for the big corporate chains.
On page 34 it states:
‘The High Road will become home to more brand names, high quality independents and leisure providers that are attracted to the sense of place and excitement being created on the High Road.’
and on the same page: ‘A revitalised High Road will have fewer retail units and the centres of commercial activity will be consolidated around Northumberland Park, Bruce Grove and Seven Sisters / West Green Road… Lower quality outlets will be replaced by high quality businesses that make a positive contribution to the local area.’
The Plan keeps talking about entrepreneurship but how does this proposal encourage entrepreneurship? Existing small businesses in Tottenham serve the diverse needs and preferences of the community, for example food outlets serving African, Caribbean and Turkish food, hair and beauty shops serving the specific needs of people of African descent, money transfer shops serving the needs of recent immigrants sending money to their home country. Are these shops to be designated low quality?
The results of a consultation into this matter was rather worrying in this regard. It states:
‘Whilst a positive mix (in terms of chains and independents) was advocated, the idea of mix and balance often manifested itself in concern with certain types of premises (betting shops, fast food establishments, beauty shops etc.)’ (33).
While few would have a problem with betting shops being closed down, there must be concerns about which communities the beauty shops and perhaps even the fast food outlets are currently serving.
Anecdotal evidence from regenerations in Hackney is not all that encouraging, for example the fate of the Four Aces club in Dalston and the problems faced by the Nutritious Food Gallery in Broadway Market. Although the threat to Centreprise in Dalston may or may not be directly connected to regeneration it does not say much about the attitude of a Labour council in a borough neighbouring Haringey to a centre serving the needs of the black community in an ‘up and coming’ area.
Recent revelations of police racism have shown that an appalling level of racism exists in the police. In April the Guardian listed 11 separate cases of racial abuse by the Metropolitan Policealone (34).
As the Mark Duggan case shows, the police complaints authority, the IPCC is just the police investigating the police and doing everything possible to prevent accountability. It is clear that black people have been facing oppressive, racist policing and have had no democratic means of redress (35). Of course the destruction of small businesses and homes in the riots was terrible. However the fact is that in every society where people face oppression and have no democratic remedies unrest happens, it is unavoidable. Punishing people from ethnic minorities and people from low income groups for the riots by means of gentrification is absolutely unacceptable and this policy has to be defeated.
We must demand:
- More social housing with secure tenancies and low rents in Tottenham to house displaced private tenants.
- A mass struggle to target landlords who push up their rents and evict tenants on low incomes.
- No to Housing Association rents based on local market rents.
- Protection of small businesses, including those that serve the needs of ethnic minority communities.
- An explicit guarantee by Haringey Council that it will protect the ethnic and social diversity of Tottenham throughout the regeneration program
THE THREAT TO HARINGEY COMMUNITY CENTRES AND THE STRANGE CASE OF HARINGEY COUNCIL AND AFRO INTERNATIONAL
The Council is at the time of writing ‘reviewing’ the future of Council-owned but community-run centres around Haringey. These have been managed by a range of community organisations, many for over 20 years at no cost to the Council, and have been paying rent and providing a huge range of services and available facilities at affordable cost to local residents.
However, the Council is now considering raising rents to market levels for those not already paying such high rents, and refusing to extend some of the existing leases. The concern is that many of the centres will be sold off for housing, or put to other uses – or will be unable to meet the new conditions imposed.
Afro International has been told that Haringey Council will not renew its lease on its community centre at Lord Morrison Hall in Scales Road, Tottenham. This is despite it being a self-funding community organisation at this address for 20 years, keeping the building in a good state of maintenance entirely by its own means. A recent council report on community buildings states that the Council wants the ‘releasing’ of community buildings for regeneration purposes such as providing housing or new workplaces (36). It also notes that 50% of the 31 Community Centres it identifies are leased to people from a specific ethnic and/or religious group and says that Haringey has changed since the leases were signed and they do not represent the current cultural diversity of Haringey (37). Out of the 31 centres listed in the Appendix to the report only 4 are specifically Afro/Caribbean Community Centres (38). Of these the Welbourne Centre, in Tottenham, which was run by the Afro-Caribbean Senior Citizens Association, has already been closed down after the Council took a hard line on rent arrears. If the Lord Morrison closure is not defeated only the West Indian Cultural Centre and the African Women’s Welfare group will remain as Afro-Caribbean community centres out of 29 remaining centres. Is it really the case that this reflects the current ethnic diversity of Haringey or is this policy motivated by other considerations?
It is true that there is a general threat to Community Centres in Haringey because of cuts in funding. However, this hardly explains why a self-funding community centre, that by its own account has kept its building in a decent state of maintenance, should now be closed down. The underlying motives for the attempt to close down Lord Morrison Hall need to be urgently scrutinised.
This process is mirrored with a whole range of other key facilities and ‘social infrastructure’ which our communities rely on. For examples, marketisation and lack of resources is leading to the loss of corner shops, green spaces, post offices and popular local pubs, not to mention a wide range of Council facilities closed or facing closure due to government cuts.
This publication is supported and distributed by Haringey Defend Council Housing – a local organisation promoting good quality Council housing for all who need it.
(1) Haringey Council/Mayor of London, The Plan for Tottenham, http://www.haringey.gov.uk/vision-for-tottenham-unveiled.htm
(2) For the definition of smaller HMOs see:
Communities and Local Government Circular 08/2010, Department for Communities and Local Governmenthttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5678/1759707.pdf, p.6.
(3) Haringey Council, Cabinet Report HMO Article 9 Direction-18 September 2012. Appendix 2: Haringey HMO and Planning Policy Development Research Paper, August 2012, Section 2.20 http://www.haringey.gov.uk/appendix_2__hmo_research_paper.pdf
(4)GVA/Centre for Cities, Evolving London: Future Shape of the Capital,
(6) see Haringey Council’s ‘Corporate Equality Objectives 2012-16’, p.2 at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/appendix_a_corporate_equality_objectives_2012-2016.pdf
(7) ‘No Longer Majority Black, Harlem is in Transition.’, New York Times 05/01/2010
(8) ‘A Population Changes Uneasily’, New York Times, 17/07/2011
(9) It Took Another Riot. The Concluding Report of the Mayor of London’s Independent Panel on Tottenham
(10) ibid., p40-41.
(11) ibid., p. 47.
(12) ibid. p. 74
(13) ibid. p47
(14) ibid. p34
(15) ibid. p76
(16) Report for Cabinet 7 February 2012, Item 12. ‘Funding and Investment Package for the Tottenham Regeneration Program.’,p.3.
(18) ibid., p. 14.
(19) ibid., p.17.
(20) ibid., p. 9.
(21) ibid., p.5.
(22) ibid., p.3
(23) BBC, 14 February 2012, ‘Spurs withdraws £16m community funding for new stadium’
(24) Haringey Council,Full Council Meeting. Summons to Attend. Appendix 2 Haringey’s Local Plan:Strategic Policies 2013 – 2026, p.58.
(25) Along with a new free school see:
Tottenham Journal, May 9, 2012 ‘Site of Tottenham’s new free school revealed’
(26) Haringey Council ‘Report for Consideration at Planning Sub-committee 28 January 2013’, section 8.4.5. http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000728/M00006221/AI00032323/Rubberfactory.pdf
(27) ibid., 6.1.3.
(28) ibid., 8.4.12
(29) Haringey Council, Haringey’s Local Plan, p.44.
(30) see Haringey Council ‘Progress in Addressing the Recommendations of the Tottenham Community Panel, August 2012. Appendix A: Summary of commitments to deliver the Tottenham Community Panel Recommendations, August 2012.’, p.8. at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/tottenham-community-panel-publishes-progress-report.htm
(31) See Defend Council Housing ‘The Case Against Stock Transfer’
(32) see 24dash ‘Affordable Rent Caps in London Blocked.’ http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-07-26-plans-to-cap-affordable-rents-in-london-axed
(33) Summary of Complete Feedback from ‘Have your Say on Tottenham’s future’ consultation questionnaires, April 2012 p. 11, at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/feedback_from__have_your_say__consultation_questionnaires.pdf
(34)Guardian 16.04.2012‘Eleven Met Cases of Alleged Police Racism’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/16/met-police-cases-alleged-racism(subsequently two juries have failed to reach a verdict over allegations against one of the officers named here-PC Alex MacFarlane).
(35)Guardian 28.06.2012 ‘Mark Duggan Coroner Threatens Police Watchdog Over Delays’,
(36) Haringey Council, Property Review-Council Community Buildings. Report to Cabinet 18.12.2013, Agenda Item 22, p.11
(37) ibid., p.7.
(38) ibid, p.18