Two of the three borough by-elections scheduled in London during the week of the Conservative conference took place in Labour-controlled Haringey yesterday – a Wednesday rather than the customary Thursday in deference to the Jewish holiday of Hoshana Rabbah. The third, in Lambeth, is taking place today.
The Haringey vacancies arose due to previously-elected Labour councillors Charles Adje, who represented South Tottenham ward, and Yvonne Say, a member for White Hart Lane, resigning as they are moving out of the borough for “personal reasons”.
South Tottenham is a neatly-defined ward in the south-east corner of Haringey. It lies east of the straight north-south A10 High Road and south of Monument Way/Ferry Lane which connects Tottenham and Walthamstow. Its other boundaries are shared with Hackney and Walthamstow.
There are three residential sections to the ward: the insular Ferry Lane estate; the area either side of Broad Lane in central Tottenham; and, to the south, the streets around Gladesmore School and Markfield Park that border Stamford Hill.
The Ferry Lane estate is a popular 1970s low rise council development, noted among planners then and now for its “informal” street layout and being a bit ahead of its time. The southern section is distinctive too, an extension of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Stamford Hill in Hackney. A majority-Jewish area, it has a young population living predominantly in single family houses. Stamford Hill has had Conservative tendencies in recent local elections, while South Tottenham ward has been solidly Labour, though the 15 per cent Conservative share in the 2022 borough elections was the biggest in Haringey.
White Hart Lane ward is in the north west of Tottenham and the north centre of Haringey. Like South Tottenham, it is an area of social and architectural interest. The largest element of the ward is formed by the Tower Gardens estate, also known as the White Hart Lane estate.
It was founded by the London County Council in 1901 as the first “out-estate”, meaning it was outside the LCC’s boundaries. Its oldest houses have some arts and crafts features, a gesture to the Garden City philosophy. One wonders if there were conspiracists fulminating against the evils of the Garden City at the turn of the last century, as they now do against the “15-minute city” concept. Tower Gardens expanded in the interwar period, taking in “respectable working class” tenants displaced from the East End. Its rents were higher than those of other estates.
White Hart Lane ward also includes other estates and suburban areas, including the fringe of former first-time buyer hotspot, the Scotch Estate. As might be expected from its name, football is played there, though by Haringey Borough FC in the Premier Division of the Isthmian League, not by Tottenham Hotspur.
White Hart Lane turned in a solid Labour majority in 2022, as it has in all recent elections, though in the past it was a marginal between Labour and the Tories. The Conservatives gained all three seats in 1986 with a populist campaign against Haringey’s Labour administration of the time, led by the late Bernie Grant, and they held one seat of those seats in 1990. It was the second-best Tory ward in Haringey in 2022 after South Tottenham, albeit with a measly 12.1 per cent.
Both Haringey campaigns were routine, with Labour candidates defending their party’s record running the council and the Liberal Democrats alleging that Labour were taking the wards for granted and not doing enough about environmental hazards, like fly-tipping. Chris Joannides, a Conservative councillor from Enfield who came to help his South Tottenham colleague Shloime Royde, suffered the theft of his mobile phone.
The main four London parties contested both contests, which ended in uncomplicated Labour wins. The more impressive was by Mark Grosskopf in South Tottenham. The community organiser and Jewish Labour Movement activist scored 1,268 votes, just shy of a four-figure majority over Royde with 286 votes. The Greens’ Jonathan McKinley (235) and Lib Dem David Schmitz ((71) brought up the rear. The Labour share of the vote was up by a healthy 4.6 percentage points compared with May 2022, a swing of just over two per cent.
Charity worker Liam Carroll was returned for White Hart Lane, but there the swing was slightly in the other direction – by one per cent to the Conservatives. Even so, Labour finished miles ahead of the evenly-divided opposition: Carroll received 1,081 votes, Conservative James Barton 289, the Green Party’s Ernst Friedrich-Paul got 247, and Lib Dem David Vigoreaux secured 215
Turnout was around 20 per cent in both. The Lib Dems will be a touch disappointed not to get the sort of bounce they have enjoyed in Labour-held seats elsewhere, although their main focus this week will have been on Lambeth’s Vauxhall ward. Tune in for that result tomorrow.