Traders’ dispute over future of Latin Village

Row over community plan for market as council faces call to take control, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Seven Sisters Indoor Market
Seven Sisters Indoor Market

Haringey Council is facing calls to take over the running of a Tottenham market to help settle a dispute between traders.

Marta Hinestroza, a trader at Seven Sisters Indoor Market for 14 years, urged the council to take a “direct stake” in the running of the market following a “breakdown” in relations between traders in disagreement over a plan – now backed by the local authority – for it to be run by a community benefit society, set up by a development trust.

But representatives of the trust said the management of the market in Wards Corner, Seven Sisters, would be democratic and insisted they wanted to heal divisions between traders. 

Both groups set out their competing visions for the future of the market, also known as ‘Latin Village’, during a meeting of the housing and regeneration scrutiny panel on Monday, 13th September. It came after developer Grainger pulled out of a plan to build 196 homes at the site.

Speaking during a deputation to the meeting with the aid of a translator, Marta said all traders were “initially very supportive of the community plan” for the market, and she had helped to raise funds for it.

But she claimed internal relations between traders broke down in 2017, and she had since been excluded from development of the plan. Warning she had “great misgivings” about certain organisations involved in the plan, she claimed to have been subject to a whispering campaign labelling her a “terrorist”.

Marta said: “In this context, we need Haringey Council to step up as the democratic, accountable and public body. We do not want a future where the market is led by two or three people, and the control is placed with these two or three people. We don’t want the rest of the people to be excluded.”

Under questioning from councillors, Marta claimed 17 traders had signed a letter calling for the council to take a role in the running of the market.

Speaking during a separate deputation to the meeting, Myfanwy Taylor, a trustee of West Green Road and Seven Sisters Development Trust, said the organisation had offered to meet with the other traders’ group to discuss its concerns. 

She said: “I really hope we have the chance to heal the divisions among the traders and the community. It has been a terrible 20 years. The traders have suffered. I really hope we have the chance to work all together, regardless of which trader group, to deliver the community plan.

“The council has a really important role to play, but this community plan is the product of 15 years of community and trader organising. It is a community asset, and the community and traders are best placed to know their needs.”

The community plan, which was granted planning permission in 2019, would see the Wards Corner building refurbished and provide an expanded market alongside extra community facilities. Myfanwy said 28 out of 38 market traders had signed a statement in support of the plan last month.

She said the building would be managed by Wards Corner Community Benefit Society, which would be a “democratic organisation owned by its members” on a “one-member, one-vote basis” and that all traders were invited to workshops to shape the organisation. Under questioning from councillors, Myfanwy added that the trust would continue to engage with all groups of traders.

Ruth Gordon, cabinet member for housebuilding, placemaking and development, asked to update the scrutiny panel on the council’s position. Chair Matt White agreed to allow her two minutes to do so. 

Cllr Gordon said the council supported the trust and the community plan. “We are making sure we are driving this forward,” she said. “It is an extraordinarily exciting project we can embark on now. The council’s ambitions are fully in line with what the community plan can achieve.”

The cabinet member added that the council should be trying to heal the division between traders.

Following two hours of hearing the deputations and discussing the issues, panel members called for more time to consider the deputations rather than rushing into a decision. The panel agreed to hold a further discussion of the issues at a future meeting.