Haringey Council repeatedly mishandled the redevelopment of the Latin Market at Seven Sisters and in the process likely breached its equalities obligations, according to a damning report published today by its own Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
The Council is a partner (along with TfL and Grainger, a private developer) in the redevelopment of the Wards Corner site where the UK’s only Latin American market is based. The current proposals involve temporarily displacing the market and traders fear they will lead to large rent increases in the future, potentially threatening the viability of the market.
A scrutiny panel made up of backbench councillors from both the ruling Labour and opposition Lib Dem groups has been looking into the situation since November 2018. In a report published on October 7th, the panel concluded that:
- The evidence they had seen “strongly suggested that no action had been taken by the Council despite complaints” that the market manager employed by Grainger had victimised and harassed traders. [Para 9.10]
- The Council issued inaccurate legal advice which understated the developer’s obligations to the traders under the under the s.106 development agreement. [para 10.2-10.6].
- There was “ongoing poor maintenance” of the market that led to power cuts, leaking roofs and damaged toilets. Conditions were sufficiently bad that traders speculated that Grainger may have been deliberately ‘running down’ the market. [Paras 11.2- 11.5]
The panel’s finding follow criticism of the redevelopment by a panel of UN human rights experts that the loss of the market could have a detrimental impact on the ability of Latin Americans in the UK “to practice their culture, and as such could constitute indirect discrimination”.
Tammy Palmer (pictured above during a visit to the market - right), councillor and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Tottenham, comments that:
“Haringey Council has continually prioritised the interests of the developer over those of the small-traders whose livelihood depends on the Latin Market. They did so despite warnings from the traders, Tottenham residents and even the UN that they were harming a minority community.
“The current Labour administration in Haringey likes to deflect blame for the problems at Wards Corner onto its predecessors. Yet this report clearly shows that the failure to enforce the s.106 agreement happened on the current Cabinet’s watch.
“It is now imperative that the Council implements Scrutiny’s recommendations in full, including seriously investigating an exit from the development agreement. This is the only way it can make amends to the traders and the Latin American community.”