Its been around two years since London went up in flames at the hands of misguided/disgruntled youths. I would say the city has bounced back rather well. The riots seem almost a lifetime ago with most of the city’s residents moving on. Boroughs such as Haringey, Ealing, Hackney and Lambeth were the main targets with local businesses and homes on the receiving end of pointless barbaric attacks. For those who missed it, it was definitely a summer to forget.
As a local resident of Haringey I was ashamed and appalled at the actions I witnessed. I’m not the most educated man in London, nor have I ever claimed to be (maybe on a drunken night out). But destroying shops and homes that help your area prosper is ridiculous. What did it gain? Nothing! Some locals were stupid enough to break in to the place of their employment and rob them blind! Clearly they never saw the unemployment rates that year. The whole mob mentality took over and the results were drastic. They claimed that the police were the issue, the controversial death of Mark Duggan was the catalyst in what sparked a night of destruction. However what I fail to understand each time I run this over in my head is what did Carpet Right or Aldi have to do with the death of Mark Duggan? What did the local florist have to do with it? The answer once again is nothing.
So two years and about a thousand arrests later (aside from the 325 still at large). Aldi and the local florists dusted off the ash and are finally up and running again. Everything seems to be back to normal, or as normal as things could be in Tottenham. The Mayor of Haringey Sheila Peacock stated in a recent interview that the riots in Tottenham were “The best thing that’s happened in Tottenham for a while.” Standing alone that comment obviously is bound to draw negative attention from Haringey all they way up to Yorkshire. And rightly so; an estimated fifty four families lost their homes that night, that’s fifty four families that fled in fear for their lives, fifty four families that may never find peace in Tottenham again, the same fifty four families that will always remember August 7th 2011 as the day their homes went up in flames. But obviously Mayor Peacock’s comment shouldn’t stand alone from a whole interview she gave. She’s the mayor of an area she has lived in her whole life. Those that live in Tottenham should know that’s a feat in itself. I can’t wait to move out of the N17/N15 post code.
Take a drive down Tottenham High Road one day, you’ll see what I mean. I have never seen so many betting shops or chicken shops on one stretch of road in my life. Haringey as a whole is the borough that the government have forgotten about. I set foot outside my house every morning to be greeted by litter, dog excrement and uneven pavements. Now the pavements I can forgive but when I walk through Chiswick I don’t get the same feeling. The feeling I get is jealously, jealous that Chiswick is so affluent and well looked after. Chiswick is the older sibling that receives new clothes every month while Tottenham is given the hand me downs. Were the riots the best thing to happen to Tottenham? No. Not in a million years. However, the response has been; finally the government have opened their eyes to the pitfalls and problems that have occurred in the borough for so long. As Mayor Peacock put it “All of a sudden, the Government is now starting to pump money into Tottenham, because Haringey is an outer London borough so we don’t get as much money as Islington or Hackney, and we’ve been struggling for years.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself, the borough has been struggling for years. The riots took us twelve steps back but now we are taking two steps forward. David Cameron took a stroll through the destruction and met with some of the victims of that tragic night. Which is commendable in itself but the question I have for him is ‘Where were you before?’ Why did it have to go so far before the government took notice? Still more questions than answers I suppose.
Mayor Peacock’s words will burn in the hearts of those who suffered the worst that night in similar fashion to the bus that burned to a crisp outside Peacocks. Mayor Peacock may want to choose her words carefully next time, and save the “Best thing for Tottenham” speech until the football team win the Premier League.
Greg J Allman.