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'This is Tottenham' tells untold stories of London residents

HOMEGROWN: Tottenham-born David Lammy spent much of his childhood on the Broadwater Farm Estate

THREE DECADES since the iconic riots which tore through Tottenham, a one-off documentary into the lives of its residents revealed some of the area’s most compelling stories.

This is Tottenham was broadcast on BBC2 (Dec 2) and featured the area’s parliamentary representative David Lammy.

Writing in the Evening Standard the Tottenham MP explained: “After much discussion, I agreed to allow a camera crew to attend my regular advice surgeries and by doing so to give an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of those who come to ask for my help.”

The area has found itself hitting the national headlines following the child abuse scandals of Baby P and Victoria Climbie, the shooting of Mark Duggan and the 2011 summer riots.

The one-hour special was applauded for its moving stories of residents fighting to establish a better way of life for themselves.

Viewers watched as people approached Lammy in search for solutions.

Amongst the stories was Ruth Ball, the mother of 30-year-old Tottenham resident Ambrose Ball whose mysterious disappearance and death continues to be a source of contention between Met police officers and the area’s black community.

The father-of-two went missing in January of this year and was identified after his body was found in the River Lea three months later.

“The faces that feature in the documentary, This is Tottenham are a portrait of London,” wrote Lammy.

ACCESS

“From the mother living in a home unsuitable for bringing up a disabled child, to the daughter of immigrants who is being denied access to student finance, to a local businessman being evicted to make way for new homes, the issues examined in the programme will resonate with many thousands across the capital.”

Other visitors to Lammy’s surgery included a 22-year-old student whose residency status had made her ineligible for a student loan despite securing a place at university and having lived here since the age of nine.

From wrongful arrests to parking problems, immigration issues to regeneration backlashes, the show also highlights the role of MPs on a local level dispelling the idea that politics only occurs in the Westminster bubble.

As Lammy explained: “Many people don’t even know MPs hold these surgeries — to them, politics takes place in Westminster and Whitehall, not in their community centre or church hall. But, like the rest of Britain’s 650 MPs, every fortnight I spend my Friday evenings meeting one-to-one with constituents who need my help.”

ICONIC

Lammy who was elected in 2000 succeeded the iconic Bernie Grant, one of the first African Caribbeans to be elected to parliament alongside Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng.

At the time of his election, Lammy was Britain’s youngest MP, aged 27.

“I hope This is Tottenham will help people to better understand the role of an MP. But even more than that, I hope that the programme will help expose the difficulties faced by many of my constituents and the strength, determination and resilience shown by so many people in very challenging circumstances, and in doing so tell the stories that too often go untold,” Lammy said.  

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