Haringey’s council leader has defended his handling of a regeneration scheme that will see a Latin American Market demolished.

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor said the council wants to create a destination for people across the capital that will help ensure Seven Sisters Indoor Market – also known as the Latin Village – continues to flourish at Wards Corner.

While he appeared to rule out buying up the land so the council can build its own homes, he pledged to take on board the views of traders in designing a new indoor market that will form part of the redeveloped site.

His comments came after the publication of a report criticising several aspects of the council’s handling of the scheme, which will see developer Grainger build nearly 200 homes.

The report by the council’s overview and scrutiny committee raised concerns over an apparent lack of oversight and enforcement of an agreement drawn up to protect the traders.

At a committee meeting on October 15, former Labour councillor Stuart McNamara, who campaigns on traders’ behalf, claimed the council leader had expressed opposition to the scrutiny review.

He also called for the break-up of the council’s regeneration team, saying it was repeating the mistakes of the Haringey Development Vehicle, which was scrapped by the current administration in July last year.

Cllr Ejiofor said he had always supported the principle that scrutiny should be independent of the executive.

He defended the regeneration team, saying it had done “a difficult job in difficult circumstances” since the start of his administration and had negotiated increases in social housing on several sites.

Cllr Ejiofor said the Haringey Development Vehicle was a private-public partnership that involved selling off council land to a developer, and it was clear that after the 20-year lease arrangement was up, there would have been no wholly public housing afterwards.

He said: “Wards Corner is a private developer scheme, and it has been going on for the best part of 15 years. The council has agreements with the developer, Grainger, and they have agreements with the freeholder of the land, which is Transport for London (TfL).

“The council is not directly involved in delivering the scheme or selling land to make the scheme happen; it is a private scheme.

“Where it is important that the council does have a role is in ensuring that when the development takes place, the market and the traders remain in situ.”

Enfield Independent:

The council leader appeared to rule out the possibility of the council buying up the land to build its own homes.

He said: “TfL already have a signed agreement to sell the leasehold of the land to Grainger, and the council has an agreement to work with Grainger to help the development come forward.

“If either of these things were not to happen, the only people who are going to benefit from that are going to be lawyers.

“Our view is that where the council has money – and after ten years of austerity, we have substantially less money year on year – we should be prioritising adult social care, children’s safeguarding, the environment and libraries, putting money into youth services, and building and delivering social homes and social housing.

“These are the priorities we set out in our manifesto last year, and these are the priorities we’re going to go on and try to deliver.”

In the scrutiny report, one expert warned the long-term future of the market could be at risk if traders are eventually forced to increase their prices due to higher rents.

The leader said: “One of the key things that will impact the market is the general high street.

“High streets are suffering across the country. One of the things about Wards Corner is we can secure the long-term future of the market while creating a retail destination that will boost, economically, that whole part of Tottenham.”

Cllr Ejiofor said Grainger had indicated it was willing to discuss ideas put forward by traders in a “community plan” for the site.

He added: “We’ve set up a policy advisory group led by an independent market specialist, with local councillors and community representatives. It has engaged proactively with the traders.

“It has spoken to 95 per cent of traders on a one-to-one basis about what they want going forward.”

The leader said the council would ensure “commitments made to traders by developers are delivered and the section 106 agreement (designed to protect the traders) is adhered to”.

He added: “As a council, we are always balancing competing agendas, but we have to deal with it fairly and remember it is the residents of Haringey who are our key stakeholder.”

The council’s cabinet will formally respond to the scrutiny report at a meeting in November.