No sanctuary should be given to those who make it their business to ignite buildings, loot retailers and shock communities.
It’s hard to think of anything to write after seeing this weekend’s pictures of Wood Green and wondering where 400 or so people suddenly come from with no motivation other than to smash shops and remove what’s inside them - on the pretext of “justice”. Stealing iPods, TVs and clothing (although, tellingly, local bookshops remained totally intact) has nothing to do with everyday life in Tottenham.
Things will, of course, return to some kind of normality, whatever the new normal turns out to be, but for retailers in the area, the current reality is another instance of clearing up while we all are appalled at the destruction that has been wrought.
Meanwhile, a few miles away, another kind of normality is fast becoming established - Westfield Stratford. It’s just over a month before we can board the high-speed train at St Pancras and whizz over to the new Westfield (for a very steep £7.00+ for a day return…what are those who want people to visit this new scheme thinking of?) for a spot of shopping. And those making the journey will be greeted by a shopping centre that will leave everyone marvelling. Long before they’re stocked, M&S, John Lewis, Primark and others have all put their best feet forward for this one and even if mall life isn’t your thing it will be difficult not to be at least grudgingly impressed.
There’s a trend in certain circles currently to trash ‘iconic’ architecture for its ability to impress externally and then totally fail to deliver if you happen to wander inside. This cannot be said of Westfield, which actually looks better than its London sister and then amazes as you take a look around the interior. It is also that happy mix of mall-contained and external high street-style shopping, with views over to the adjacent Olympic stadium, the velodrome and all the other buildings that form the sporting complex.
Which rather leads back to Wood Green and Tottenham. The devastation of this part of north-east London serves as a reminder that retailers and the public in general deserve to be able to go about their business without fear that a mob will descend, rip the heart out of a district and then be allowed to carry on as if nothing had happened the following day.
As the golden acres of Stratford near completion, Wood Green Shopping City needs help. It may not be as glamorous, but it is normal life for many people and retailers and it deserves respect.