Haringey Council is finally on the verge of starting the promised improvement work to Holcombe Market - that includes two stalls becoming five - on the Tottenham High Road. Yet, this is little cause for regeneration lead Councillor Alan Strickland to be smug. 1301 days have passed since his 8th March 2012 pledge to improve the market.
Now having signed the official papers allowing council officers to enter into a contract with the business that won the tender for the work, it would be an appropriate time for him to accept responsibility for his policy failure and resign from any involvement in the building period ahead. There is little confidence amongst the council-established Bruce Grove Stakeholder Group for his leadership on the project. His departure would allow a new figure to come forward to restore the community's confidence that there will be a successful outcome to this badly needed new and expanded market.
Below is my open letter to Councillor Strickland.
And this is the link to the council information about the contract. Including the news that the work will take 25 weeks.
Email to Councillor Strickland on Thursday 1st October 2015.
Subject: Sign for Holcombe Market, then resign for Holcombe Market
Dear Councillor Strickland,
No doubt you are smiling even more today as you contemplate getting that regeneration monkey off you back that is your personal and political failure to improve Holcombe Market.
But, today is not a day to for you to be triumphalist about signing the award of the contract for the works on the new market. There is still no agreed start date for the work and the work will disrupt the Bruce Grove town centre stretch of the Tottenham High Road for 25 weeks. Meaning that the works might not be finished by 8th March 2016, the fourth anniversary of the '12 in 2012' pledges that included a promise to the people of Tottenham to improve Holcombe Market
And today is not the day to go around blaming council officers for the delay. It is outrageous of you to say the problem goes back to having the wrong junior staff in the regeneration team in the early days. These decisions are also ultimately matters for which you are responsible.
The issue with officers might not be the quality, but the quantity of project managers who have been asked to deliver the pledge to improve the market. I have lost count, but believe the number of different project managers is in double figures. Not even the introduction of an employee of Mace - one of the companies sponsoring your trip to Cannes for MIPIM 2015 - has brought the project under control and there are still lots of questions to be asked. For example, on the risk highlighted by the finance officer about the low contingency in the financing of the scheme. Let this not be used to pressurise the traders to accept cuts or even used to force them to pay for some of the improvements themselves.
Leaving the issues of officer management aside. The one element of the failure to improve Holcombe Market that has remained constant is your political leadership. It was you who made the pledge on 8th March 2012 and it is under your regeneration stewardship that the pledge has not been delivered. Three and a half years on. 42 months ago. And now over 1300 days since your pledge.
Yet you have been unrepentant about accepting responsibility for the failure to improve the market and are no doubt determined to see it through to the 'bitter end'. But as the representative of the Dowset Road Residents' Association on the Bruce Grove Stakeholder Group I have no confidence in your leadership on the market improvement scheme. I know other resident representatives feel the same way. Indeed, some of your councillor colleagues privately tell me they have no confidence in you on this matter. I will leave you to look in the mirror and ask yourself whether Tottenham's traders have confidence in your continued political over-seeing of the project.
My 'Haringey attitude' tells me there is no need for you to take informal soundings about your credibility on Holcombe Market. It went a long time ago. Today's contract signing is an opportunity for you to step aside to allow a more credible person to over-see the most important part of the project that is the actual building work period. Your departure from the scene would give all involved fresh hope and confidence in the successful outcome of an expanded Holcombe Market serving the people of Tottenham.
So I urge you: Sign today for Holcombe Market's future, and then resign today for the future of Holcombe Market.
Resident representative on the Bruce Grove Stakeholder Group