An inquiry has heavily criticised Haringey Council’s handling of a regeneration scheme that could see a community market knocked down.

The report on the Wards Corner scheme in Tottenham raises concerns the council did not enforce an agreement drawn up to protect traders at Seven Sisters Indoor Market – also known as the Latin Village – despite the inquiry hearing evidence it was being breached.

It adds a ‘steering group’ set up to promote dialogue between traders, a developer and the market manager is “unable to fulfil its stated purpose”.

And it says evidence “strongly suggested no action has been taken by the council” to investigate complaints made by traders about the market management.

At a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (October 15), former Haringey Labour councillor Stuart McNamara described the report as “damning on the regeneration department”.

He said: “I think the regeneration department has to be broken up. It is causing so much damage to the council, and it would be an act of self-harm to allow it to continue.”

The scrutiny report was drawn up by a cross-party panel of councillors who heard evidence from the key stakeholders involved in the project.

The Wards Corner regeneration scheme will see the existing buildings, including the Latin Market, knocked down to make way for 196 new homes and retail space.

A new market will be provided for the traders within the redeveloped site.

Haringey Council granted planning permission to property firm Grainger to redevelop the site in December 2008.

But the decision was overturned in 2012 by the Court of Appeal, which ruled the council had not discharged its duty under section 71 of the Race Relations Act.

As part of revised plans, a ‘section 106 agreement’ was drawn up between the council and Grainger to safeguard the traders – most of whom are from a Latin American background – which included the appointment of a ‘market facilitator’ to promote their interests.

But the report says a director of the company appointed by Grainger in May 2016 to act as market facilitator – Quarterbridge – also became a director of the market manager, Market Asset Management.

It says this was a conflict of interest – yet the council only recognised it as such in the autumn of 2018.

The report adds that traders made a range of complaints about the alleged conduct of the market facilitator/market manager, but these “were not acted upon in a timely manner by the council”.

Haringey Council has made several pledges to protect the traders, including the provision of a temporary site for the market while development takes place and a rent cap for traders after they move back into the new premises at Wards Corner.

But one academic who contributed to the scrutiny report warned the market may struggle to survive after the development goes ahead due to long-term rent increases, which could force traders to raise their prices.

The report asks the council to consider alternative plans for Wards Corner, including wholly or partially buying out the site so it can build its own housing.

The scrutiny committee agreed the report’s recommendations, which will be considered by Haringey’s top decision makers at a cabinet meeting in November.

Chairman Lucia das Neves (Labour), Woodside ward, told the committee that Grainger and Quarterbridge planned to submit additional “factual material”, which could be added to the report at a later date.

A spokesman for Grainger told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it is challenging the report, alleging it contains “many inaccuracies…which continue to spread misinformation about Grainger’s work in Seven Sisters”.

The spokesman added: “It is important to recognise that, while the draft report insinuates many things, it offers no evidence of us having breached our section 106 obligations.”

Council leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor (Labour) told the LDRS: “We will consider the points that have come out of the scrutiny report and will take time to respond fully at cabinet.

“We are absolutely committed to having a sustainable market in Seven Sisters. The Latin Village traders remain at the heart of these plans and we have ensured they have a string of clear commitments for the future.

“The market at Seven Sisters, our traders and the local community are fundamental to our vision going forward and will help provide the gateway to Tottenham.”