By Martin Cloake, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust board member

Better Together. That slogan, ultimately used effectively in the recent vote on Scotland’s constitutional status, has some resonance in Haringey too. But as the debate around the Northumberland Development Project continues, it would be naïve to think that there’s a great sense of togetherness over a project that could ultimately benefit all parties.

As I wrote in the last blog on this site, the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust is worried about a number of aspects of the as yet unspecified new stadium project – one that is being referred to as a stadium project again rather than as an area development project. We expressed concern, in particular, about “answers seeming to emerge as faits accomplis”.  And it seems we’re not the only ones.

In April, on this site, Patricia Pearcy, the co-chairman of the Tottenham Business Group, voiced criticisms of decisions plucked from nowhere and presented as the only alternative that will be familiar to many Spurs fans. For all the reported differences between Haringey Council and Tottenham Hotspur PLC over the years, it seems both organisations share a tendency to define consultation as ‘telling the punters what’s been decided’.

The proposed walkway from White Hart Lane station to the new stadium came, like the club’s more recent announcement that it would “have to” move away from the area for a year while any rebuild went ahead, out of nowhere. It’s not hard to see why the walkway is so controversial. It flies in the face of all the fine words about community benefit the club was so anxious to utter in the aftermath of the riots and symbolises the growing unease at the divide between private benefit and public good that colours much current debate.

And local businesses and local people are not the only ones to feel uneasy. To many fans, the scheme looks like a device to keep us in a commercially sealed environment where, no doubt, any consumer services on offer will be premium-priced. Part of the enduring appeal of many English football grounds, and White Hart Lane in particular, is the fact that it is a part of where it is situated. That is not to over-romanticise that or to ignore the very real divisions between the club and the community that have accelerated in the age of the Premier League. But the attachment to a sense of place should not be underestimated.

Not all Spurs fans are like me. I grew up in Haringey, and I’ve still got family here. I worked for the council in the 1980s, and I was involved in the fertile politics of the borough for some years. So I know how Haringey Council likes to wrap its patrician tendencies in the language of people’s democracy and radicalism.  And, having seen successive boards come and go at Spurs, I know that business people are not always as clever as they tell us they are. But more Spurs fans than some may imagine, certainly if the comments under the trust’s last blog are anything to go by, are prepared to make common cause with the local community.

Power always tries to play those it seeks to control off against each other. So it’s important that Spurs fans and the local business and residential communities work together to achieve the best outcome for the greatest number. As a trust, we are a community benefit organisation, so the way we are structured and constituted means we must have regard to wider issues of community. But we also believe that the best way forward is to work to keep the club not only as something that can bring benefit to the local community, but also to make it something the local community can identify with and be proud of.

Not all Spurs fans will agree with that, just as not all residents and businesses will agree that they have any interests in common with the club. Only a properly transparent approach that genuinely involves what corporate Britain likes to call stakeholders but ordinary people like to call ordinary people can win over the doubters, and we have it in our power to build that approach. To, as Patricia eloquently put it in her blog “allow the threads of the old community to lend credibility and breathe life into the new”.

Haringey’s councillors will move on, some perhaps to the offices of the area’s latterly silent – on this matter – MP David Lammy, should he eventually be elected Mayor of London. So, too, will the current owners of Tottenham Hotspur. What fans, residents and businesses are all concerned with is what will be left behind. The area could, possibly, be regenerated without the club. The club could, possibly, either move elsewhere or exist as a place apart within an area even worse off than before. But for everyone, the future is surely better together.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust website