Regeneration (Tottenham)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:26 pm on 11th January 2011.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Labour, Tottenham 1:26 pm, 11th January 2011

I am very grateful for what my hon. Friend has said, but he knows that he actually represents a south London club, and that is why this is even more important. All those years ago, the club moved from Woolwich, but at that time it was not of the size that we see now, making the kind of contribution that both Arsenal and Tottenham make to this very, very poor part of London. I challenge anyone to visit parts of my hon. Friend's constituency, in Holloway, parts of mine, or the constituency of our colleague my hon. Friend Mr Love and say that these clubs are not making a huge contribution. Things would be considerably worse were the clubs not there.

That is why we welcome Spurs' plan for a new 56-seater stadium in Tottenham, why I supported the club in overcoming problems with English Heritage, and why I brokered meetings with both the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and Haringey council. Historically, relations with Haringey council have not always been at their best, but we got planning permission in record time, and in a shorter time than Arsenal. As my hon. Friend has said, it is nonsense to suggest that Arsenal received state aid, and Spurs would never have done so. However, the club is right to say-and so am I-that we need more investment in this constituency.

I have not witnessed in my constituency the kind of transformation that we have seen in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, and that we are witnessing now in the east of London. So, is Tottenham the next big regeneration challenge for this Government? It ought to be. The people deserve it to be, and the club rightly wants to see that. The plan was that off the back of the redeveloped stadium at White Hart Lane, which has received the approval of Haringey council and the Mayor, we would get further investment from Europe and from the Government, so that yes, we would see a new supermarket, yes we would see new housing, but we would also see the new stadium. As Daniel Levy has said, the stadium has

"the potential to act as a real catalyst for the much-needed, wider regeneration of the area."

I am disappointed, of course, that other members of the Tottenham board, such as the director Keith Mills, have said that moving to the Olympic stadium is better because

"it's closer to Canary Wharf and to the City; and it'll attract more sponsorship".

I have also been very concerned about internet rumours of Spurs' owners selling up to Qatari investors and seeking planning permission at White Hart Lane and the Olympic stadium so as to sell the club on and make more money. When Mr Levy says to me, "I'm acting in the interests of shareholders," it is my job to remind him that he owns 70% of the shares. So, who will profit ultimately from the decision? This is important.

It is also important to recognise the entire ecology of London, and in so doing it is also important that we say, "Can it possibly be fair that Tottenham's legacy from the Olympics is for the largest private employer to be allowed to leave the constituency?" Let me reiterate, if Spurs is allowed to leave, this Government's legacy for the constituency with the highest unemployment in London will be to have removed the largest private employer. That cannot be right.

Is it also the case that the Olympic Park Legacy Company should take note of the entirety of London and not just regeneration in the east of the city? In my constituency, unemployment is running at 11.2% and incapacity benefit claims are at 11%. Those are some of the highest levels in London. Life expectancy is lower than in the Olympic borough. Mortality rates for women in my constituency are lower, and unemployment is higher, than in the combined Olympic boroughs. Right across the sweep, the statistics suggest that Tottenham is finding it harder than the combined Olympic boroughs, and I am sure that the Minister is aware of that.

Does the Minister believe that it is acceptable to secure a legacy in east London by condemning an area of north London to become effectively a dust bowl? Does he believe that it is fair that the largest economic project in my constituency for a generation may be sacrificed-a brand-new stadium demolished just to build a new one with a supermarket attached? The Olympics were meant to bring a unique experience to the doorsteps of ordinary Londoners. Should Spurs leave, the experience will leave a particularly bitter aftertaste in N17. Who encouraged Spurs to make the decision? What leverage are the Minister and his Department placing on the Mayor as that decision is reached? I am told that the Olympic board will reach the decision on 28 January; what consultation is going on with Haringey council and with us on a decision that is now imminent and pressing? Does the Minister not believe that consultation with my constituents by the Olympic legacy body is absolutely mandatory? Is he concerned that there has been only one phone conversation with the company and with Haringey council? Spurs owns 20 acres of site on the north side of Tottenham high road that has now been blighted. How can due diligence be done on the Spurs bid if only one conversation on the planning application has been had with the local authority?

I hope that the Minister understands that this matter is urgent; that is why I have taken the time to put it on the record for the House, and for others who are listening and watching. This is the most important thing that could have happened in relation to economic regeneration in my constituency in the past decade.