In writing to offer support to the chief executives of many of the places affected by the rioting in recent days, I have been struck by the deep emotion in their often brief replies. It has also struck me that these events are going to have a profound influence on the way local government and public services think about and communicate their roles in the coming months and years. It is important, therefore, that we begin to capture and to learn from these experiences. Kevin Crompton, the chief executive of Haringey, has generously accepted my invitation to write for this blog as a first contribution. Here are his reflections:
“Mike asked me to pen a few thoughts on the events in Tottenham last week and as I
reflect now nearly one week on I think many colleagues will understand how I am feeling. What appears to have been a local issue has escalated into what I can only think of as a toxic mix of lawlessness, civil disobedience and some expression of grievances? We all agree though that nothing justifies the wanton destruction, looting and disregard for human life that I first saw in Tottenham. In the aftermath I was on the scene and I met a young man – he and his wife had made a decision to live in Tottenham both have good jobs both liked the area. Their flat was above one of the looted and burnt out shops and they now have nothing but the clothes they managed to put on as they escaped. A member of my staff barely got out just in time in time with her baby who has had a very hard first year of life. Her reaction was to say that every-time she cries or feels that she can take no more she just looks at her Son and realises that life is the most important thing and she has the most precious thing in the world- her Son. Sadly I know these are stories many of us will have and will continue to touch our hearts for some time. In Tottenham we were making real progress in our plans to regenerate the area and support the vibrant community in the area. We know that we will have to build on the real resilience we have there and across our borough to get over these events.
Talking of resilience my other reflection is pride .. pride in my members, my staff and my local partners. My staff, police, fire, ambulance service, the voluntary sector and our community are all doing amazing things to aid our recovery. We have had offers of support from across the local government family. We have enacted our emergency plan , we have re housed people, we have established our community assistance centre and I could go on … and it is time that this dedication and professionalism in local government and public sector got wider recognition
I also must mention that the family of Mr Duggan have also gone to great lengths to say that they do not condone nor want any of this violence
I would love to close with some coherent thoughts on how we move on from this but as I reflect on the events of the last few days both here and across the country – reading the reports of the damage to our street maintenance depot which was attacked last night – I find myself like many others wondering how did we get to this point. Having been in Brixton at the start of my career I know this is different and we will be working hard both locally and nationally to understand and to change the conditions that have led to these events.
We will rebuild, we will support the vast majority of law abiding citizens and we will see our Haringey back on its feet.
Finally my thoughts are also with all of you in the other areas experiencing the same.”
Photo by Nicobobinus http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicohogg/6017671448/