The Boundary Commission for England is intending to move West Green ward into the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency. Cllr Seema Chandwani discusses why she believes we must object to moving West Green out of Tottenham.
I’ve lived in Tottenham most of my life, I went to West Green Primary School, played on the model bike track in Lordship Rec as a child and played football in Downhills Park as a teenager. These experiences are what shape my identity, enabling me to have a sense of belonging and whenever I’m asked where I grew up or live, “Tottenham” is my response.
Constituencies are named after the areas they cover. Tottenham is the name for our area and has been for centuries, it was even cited in the Doomsday Book back in 1086. If we are going to name a constituency after an established area, we need to show respect for that identity and that history.
West Green has been part of the Tottenham constituency since its creation in 1885. For more than 130 years, parliament has always respected the use of our name, but these proposals break that respectful long held relationship. Removing a chunk, a significant and important chunk, of our community and placing it in an area with a new name shows no understanding of our history, culture, and identity.
The West Green ward is also home to three parks; Belmont Rec, Downhills Park and Lordship Rec. Whilst these won’t physically move, they are left outside of the new Tottenham boundary. Parks and open spaces are important places for people to build a community. These are where we congregate to celebrate Tottenham – from the Tottenham Ploughman’s to the Tottenham BMX Club.
Downhills Park is home to the statue celebrating Tottenham’s famous achievers; Luke Howard, Nicola Adams and Walter Tull. The park was chosen because it is a Tottenham park.
West Green Common is home to the Windrush Memorial, which celebrates and appreciates the large Black community who have made Tottenham their home. The common is also the home of the West Green and Tottenham war memorial.
Removing these spaces from the Tottenham constituency rips out those long-established connections and leaves the new formation of a constituency called Tottenham with a huge reduction in parks and green spaces, a void in its heritage, and a misplacement of its history.
My biggest concern however, is the removal of Broadwater Farm from the Tottenham constituency. After decades of social issues, it’s taken strong parliamentary leadership, over a long period of time to address the multitude of factors of the estate. Whilst there has been significant progress, there is still much to do. We are about to embark on a huge upgrading of the housing on the estate, as poor housing conditions have long contributed to the low outcomes for residents.
It’s exciting but also deeply complex and often scary for the people living on the estate. With more than 1,000 dwellings and nearly 4,000 residents, these tenants make up a large proportion of the ward, and their needs have to significantly influence where this ward sits in the parliamentary map.
If these proposals go ahead, we risk making a significant change at a very crucial time where these residents will need a democratic voice more than ever. Whilst I am the ward councillor, the political voice at times needs to be independent from the council. To represent people, especially those on an estate with the complexities of Broadwater Farm, requires time and trust.
All residents of the ward and estate have a democratic right to choose their MP, but these proposals remove the opportunity for them to retain the MP they have worked with through tough times, even if he re-stands. That seems unfair, undemocratic and not conducive to their needs.
More widely many of the funding formulas and statistics of issues and deprivation collected are presented at constituency levels. The assessment of needs of Broadwater Farm and for many in West Green, will be diluted by the high levels of wealth seen in Hornsey, Crouch End and Alexandra. I believe this will significantly reduce the much-needed resources for Broadwater Farm, as well as other parts of the ward.
No matter where you live in Tottenham, you can still give your views on these changes even if your ward remains in Tottenham. This proposal affects us all as a Tottenham community.
Please take five minutes to complete the online form and encourage others to do so. We have until 2nd August to participate in the consultation and convince the Boundary Commission that this proposal is unacceptable on so many grounds.
To read about the proposed boundary changes.
Click here to share your views with the Boundary Commission.