Spurs should follow Arsenal and stay local, says Islington Council leader

THE leader of Islington Council has thrown her weight behind a huge campaign to keep Spurs in Tottenham - despite admitting Arsenal match days can be chaos for the people of Islington.

Councillor Catherine West is one of 12 council leaders across London who have signed a letter to the Olympic Park Legacy Company calling on them to pick West Ham over Spurs to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after the 2012 games.

Councillor West said; “I feel it’s good if football clubs can stay local. Arsenal stayed in Islington when they left Highbury and even though the club and their developers haven’t always been everyone’s favourite people, overall it’s been good for the borough.

“The White Hart Lane area of Tottenham really needs a boost and I think the club should stay and help do that.

“My council colleagues in Haringey are pushing for Tottenham to stay local and I think redeveloping the current stadium would provide a real boost in terms of job creation.

“If the club is not there it will bee very difficult for the council to be able to regenerate the area on its own, especially at this time.”

Fans, councillors, the local MPs and even some celebrity supporters have spoken out against Spurs leaving Haringey, and campaign group We Are N17 has gathered nearly 10,000 signatures against the club’s proposed move to Stratford.

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In the 1990s there was a similar campaign to keep Arsenal in Islington when they decided to leave the old Highbury Stadium for a bigger ground, and Councillor West believes moving less than a mile to the Emirates, off Hornsey Road, Holloway, was good for Islington.

“Arsenal staying in Islington was great for fans because they still have geographical access,” said Councillor West, who is still waiting to see her first match at The Emirates. “The tickets are very expensive, but fans can walk to the stadium and the club still feels very much a part of the community.

“I know that there are problems around traffic and people management, but football clubs do a lot of positive things for their local area and create a vibrant local economy.

“A lot of affordable homes have also been built as part of the Arsenal development, and the ground services the local economy in terms of shops and restaurants.”

The Olympic Park Legacy Company is expected to decide as early as next week whether Spurs or West Ham will win the right to move into the Stratford site.