Wards Corner process scrutinised

Councillors say traders’ concerns not addressed

Protesters march down Tottenham High Road
Credit: Stephen Furner

By Luchia Robinson

Haringey’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) panel has made a number of recommendations in response to regeneration plans for the Wards Corner site, where Seven Sisters Indoor Market (also referred to as the Latin Village), is based.

The OSC review criticised the council for not adequately addressing concerns raised by the Latin market traders (in letters from 2016-2018), which include the poor maintenance of the market, and the misconduct of the Market Facilitator.

The review states that traders’ complaints were not formally reported (by the town centre, council representative) to senior members of the council’s planning department. This inaction is deemed a breach of the Section 106 agreement that was put in place by Haringey Council and property developer Grainger PLC in 2011.

A Market Facilitator was appointed in May 2016 as a condition of the Section 106 agreement, which has a duty towards public sector equality. A steering group was also formed (in October 2016) to support the traders through the redevelopment process, which includes the proposed demolishing and repositioning of the market, and the construction of 196 homes.

However, it is reported that the Market Facilitator also became the Director of Market Asset Management Ltd- the operator of Seven Sisters (the market manager); leaving the traders without independent representation at the steering group meetings.

The OSC reports this conflicting situation to be a factor in the breakdown of dialogue between the traders and developer. It recommends that Grainger PLC appoints an independent facilitator (the appointed Market Facilitator stepped down from the role last November), in full consultation with the market traders.

It also suggests a reconsideration of how Section 106 conditions are both enforced and monitored, particularly when concerning communities with protected characteristics.

Grainger PLC contests the accuracy of the OSC report. Jonathan Kiddle, Senior Development Manager, told TCP:

“The report provides no evidence that any legal obligations to market traders or the wider community were breached and we hope the many inaccuracies and misleading statements in the report about Grainger’s work in Seven Sisters will be corrected in full.”

At a deputation into the scrutiny of Wards Corner, last month, Save Latin Village representative, and former Haringey Councillor, Stuart McNamara suggested that there needs to be: ‘genuinely independent’ round table discussions; a proper consideration of the Community Plan (the resident led, alternative proposal to restore the site); removal of the market operator and a thorough investigation into its practices; a proper consideration of what happens to Wards Corner; and for there to be an appropriate support mechanism in place to support the market traders.

Fellow campaigner, Javie Huxley added: “The council needs to stop persecuting traders within the Latin Village, and constantly pretending that everything is okay, because at the moment we have a 100% migrant community that is suffering at the hands of the developers.”

“It makes me emotional that we have to keep saying how important this cultural hub is for people of colour in Tottenham.”

Haringey Council says it has set up The Policy Advisory Group (PAG), a member led initiative, supported by an independent market expert who has been working with all stakeholders to find a way to run the market in a way that works for them all.

It also says it has secured a number of agreements for the traders at the temporary market (to be located at the former Apex House site, Seven Sisters) during any redevelopment, and afterwards when re-established back at the original Wards Corner location. This includes providing equivalent space under current licenses.

Councillor Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council, said: “Wards Corner is the gateway to Tottenham. Nobody could look at what is there and believe that this should be the future for the next 20 years. The future must be better for residents, businesses and the traders. 

“New homes and an energetic town centre are the right ambition for Seven Sisters and this will create a wider economic benefit for businesses in this part of Tottenham. The Latin market traders are an integral part of that future.

“Let’s be clear. The Council does not own the land that the market is on. That belongs to Transport for London. Nor is the market being destroyed. Instead, Haringey Council is committed to securing the long-term future for this Latin Village market at Seven Sisters.

Haringey Cabinet will formally respond to the OSC report this month.