Haringey Council has been called on to halt the demolition of Tottenham’s Latin market to allow the decision to be thoroughly reviewed.

The council was accused of “bungling” its oversight of the Wards Corner redevelopment project as a group of traders from the Latin Village made allegations of bullying and harassment against the market operator.

Traders called for more transparency from the local authority and for the demolition to be put on hold to give the council’s housing and regeneration scrutiny panel time to look into the issues.

Speaking at a meeting of the scrutiny panel yesterday (February 21), traders’ representative Stuart McNamara said: “The plans need to be halted while this is looked at.

“What I would hate to see happen is the site bulldozed to build a bland, new development with zero affordable housing – and we find out afterwards there was a better plan that was never considered.”

Traders attacked the decision by Haringey Council and developer Grainger to appoint market consultants Quarterbridge as the ‘market facilitator’ – a supposedly independent body responsible for looking after traders’ interests during the redevelopment.

The director of Quarterbridge Jonathan Owen is also the director of market operator Market Asset Management, which owns the market’s lease.

Traders say this created a clear conflict of interest, as the person who is supposed to stand up for them had a vested interest in the new development going ahead.

Vicky Alvarez, head of one of the main groups of traders, claimed she had been the victim of harassment and bullying because she stood up for their rights.

She said: “We are trying to understand how the market operator and the market facilitator was the same person.

“When we complained about being badly treated, Grainger could not care less.

“By not really helping, it allowed the bullying to carry on further and further.”

Ms Alvarez added that the council had not done enough to address traders’ concerns about the market operator.

The decision to redevelop the Wards Corner site dates back to 2007, when Haringey Council was led by Cllr George Meehan.

Current council leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor indicated the council would press ahead with redevelopment plans after the Secretary of State gave the green light to a compulsory purchase order in January this year.

Cllr Ejiofor has pledged to provide a new market at Wards Corner, as well as a temporary site while work takes place, and the council has secured rent discounts and other support for traders to help with the transition.

But the current plans do not contain any affordable housing – and traders want the council to consider their own proposals for the site.

They also fear their current storefronts could be sidelined in favour of high-street chains when they are moved to the new site – potentially dealing a huge blow to some small businesses.

Pulling out of the deal with Grainger could cost the cash-strapped council millions of pounds.

Mr McNamara said the council should provide a concrete figure for how much it would cost to cancel the deal.

Councillors later quizzed Cllr Charles Adje, cabinet member for strategic regeneration, about the current plans for the market.

Cllr Adje said he was concerned when he found out that the market operator was the same organisation as the facilitator.

He added that the council had been in talks with Grainger and Transport for London with the aim of appointing a new market facilitator to work with the traders.

Cllr Adje said: “As a result of the council’s involvement, using its leverage, we are moving forward. Things are happening.”

Cllr Dawn Barnes, Liberal Democrat member for Crouch End, asked if the cabinet was prepared to halt the demolition until the scrutiny review had taken place.

Cllr Adje said: “We have to operate within the constraints of the law. I can’t say to you ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Subject to legal advice, we will have an answer to that.”

Cllr Sarah Williams, Labour member for West Green, said: “Do you have the political will, the law notwithstanding, to halt demolition until after scrutiny?”

Cllr Adje replied: “Political will has obviously to be expressed based on sound legal advice in terms of the implications of whatever decision.

“That is something I will take away and discuss with the monitoring officer and the cabinet.”

Jonathan Kiddle, senior development manager at Grainger, commented: “Seven Sisters Indoor Market is at the heart of our plans and we have made a number of commitments to traders to support them before, during and after construction.

“We have been holding regular meetings with traders through the ‘Future of Seven Sisters Market’ Steering Group to develop plans for the new market.

“Through the Steering Group we have agreed a location for the temporary market, enhanced the financial offer to traders and facilitated the discussion of a number of maintenance and management issues.

“While we are unable to comment on specific allegations, we have committed to change the market facilitator to a new independent individual in response to feedback from traders.”