IMG_9756 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
I'd like to post the actual photo on this page, but I can't because it's copyrighted, but well worth a look.
Such a beautiful Art Deco building with a carpet shop below and flats above wiped off the face of Tottenham High Road. People made homeless, jobs lost, and for what? - What idiots destroy their own community? I don't think this is anything to do with Mark Duggan's shooting - why would you burn your own shopping centre because you're cross? What would it prove?
Am I missing something?
I've lived in Haringey for 50 years, and this makes me feel very sad, because so much effort and money has gone into regeneration of the area since the Broadwater Farm incident 25 years ago, when an unarmed policeman was hacked to death with machetes during a riot. At that time, rioting got out of hand because many of the local youth were angered by the local police policy of "Stop and Search", when the police had a legal right to stop and search anyone they suspected of committing an offence. And the black community in Tottenham felt that they were being unjustly targetted.
After that, a huge effort was made to change policing, to employ more black police, have local community liaison committees and so forth; money was poured in to the bleak concrete jungle which was Broadwater Farm Estate, and much was done to make it more of a supportive community, with a community centre, and planting of trees and other cosmetic effects to make the occupants feel less alienated from society.
For years Haringey has had one of the highest council taxes in Britain, and this was to improve the lives of those living in the poorest part of the Borough. I believed in this Socialist principle, so didn't really resent paying high local taxes (just some of the wastefulness that went with it!).
Schools were improved, the whole Borough of Haringey was "greened up", with tree and garden planting, cleaning up areas where there had been fly-tipping, better street cleaning, better street lighting, improved, cleaner local parks, better sports facilities and good library facilities. There were "inclusive" policies, and positive discrimination in employment. There is a huge ethnic mix in Haringey, with something in excess of 100 languages spoken by children in the local schools. Official Local Government information leaflets are normally distributed in about 10 different languages, to help people feel loved and wanted. Many people did feel that things had improved considerably, but the youth unemployment and crime rate, much of it drug-related, remained high.
So why arson - one of the most dangerous offences in the book? In a crowded city like London, it can wreak havoc - and that's why it is a very serious crime - think "Fire of London".
I, for one, certainly don't think pouring a lot more money into Haringey is going to solve this one, because it doesn't seem to have helped much up to now. It seems to me that the people who did this, probably thoughtless youths who don't think beyond their own noses (and certainly not about actions having consequences), should now start to think about pulling themselves up by their bootlaces, like other second-generation immigrant populations before them, instead of behaving badly and then whining about their rights and lack of opportunities.