Battling market forces

Latin Village traders will get fair deal says Cllr Joseph Ejiofor

By Luchia Robinson

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council

Six months into his leadership and Cllr Joseph Ejiofor is continuing to work on building trust within the community.

This is proving challenging, particularly as the administration’s position on Wards Corner has been an area of contention between the council and locals.

Regeneration plans for the site has meant the Latin Village market based there, faces closure. Numerous locals have opposed the market’s demolition, as it is seen as a key cultural and social hub for traders and many other people within the Latin community.

Talking about the issue in an interview with TCP to mark six months in office, Cllr Ejiofor said: “The council has a number of legally binding commitments [to work] with the developer on the scheme. There is a Section 106 agreement which is in place between the developers, the market traders, the council and TFL (as one of the land owners), which expresses what we all expect to see at the outcome – and that is a sustainable Latin Village market, where the traders have the same footprint as they have now in the new development. The issue there remains [is] how we ensure that everybody works together to get to the ultimate outcome? It is important that we are realistic about what is achievable.”

He added: “The Latin Village market is a valued asset, not just for the people of Tottenham, not just for the people of Haringey, but for the Latin American community in north London and beyond. And we want to make that work. It is our duty to make that work.”

A letter sent to Labour party members, published on social media confirms this position on the Latin Village. It states: ‘We have been asked the question of why we cannot just tear up these agreements that we have signed. Were we to attempt to retain the market in its current form, extracting the council from this project would face the prospect of the council having to pay many millions in compensation to the developer.

“The Latin Village market is a valued asset”

Considering the budget cuts imposed by central government, this is simply neither feasible nor practical.’

The council’s claim to have its hands tied may not come as a surprise, particularly with rumours swirl- ing that the borough is being sued by property developer, Lendlease, following the decision made in July, not to pursue the Haringey Development Vehicle.

The plan to continue working with Grainger plc– the developer in charge of the Wards Corner may make it harder for Cllr Ejiofor to develop trust within the local community.

Cllr Ejiofor said: “It’s important to ensure that we can help local people and local businesses thrive within whatever regeneration that happens in Tottenham. One of the things that I’ve frequently said is that regeneration isn’t just about shiny, new buildings- it must encompass social and economic renewal, and whenever we do anything in and around Haringey, the people who were there before any regeneration/ redevelopment happened, must be there afterwards because they’re an integral part of that neighbourhood’s future.”

Overall the Council leader describes his first six months in charge as being, “very challenging”. Nevertheless, he says he will be working closely with residents to ensure the council’s core priorities are met.

Delivering houses for residents has been named as one of the council’s key tasks and, as having made the decision to stop the HDV, the administration is now working on building and developing its own property.

Cllr Ejiofor said: “We have a duty to house [those in temporary accommodation] however, we have no housing to put them in. Part of our objective is to create 1000 new council homes, which will take 1000 people off our waiting list, which will then take 1000 people out of temporary accommodation.”

Cllr Ejiofor hopes to encourage a broad conversation with local residents through the Fairness Commis- sion and a public consultation on the Borough Plan 2019- 2023. He expects this collective approach to tackling Haringey’s key issues will be an effective way of ensuring trust, through open communication and ongoing engagement.

He said: “I’ve always sought to be clear about what it is I’ve thought  I can do, what it is I believe I can deliver, and I wouldn’t be asking people to come and talk to us if I didn’t want to hear what they [have to say] and we weren’t committed to helping [with] their concerns.”

In addressing widespread apprehension about housing, litter and preparedness for Brexit, Cllr Ejiofor said: “All I’m asking is the opportunity to prove that this council is different, we do listen, but we have to take some difficult decisions. There are some decisions that we’ve got to take around the budget that are not going to be easy, [and] we have a finite amount of money, but I want residents to have confidence in us– these are things that we will address fairly.”