Agenda item

Scrutiny Panel review on Wards Corner - Non Key

[Report of  the Director for  Housing Regeneration and Planning. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for  Finance and Strategic Regeneration]


To note the Scrutiny Review on Wards Corner and to consider the Cabinet response to the recommendations.



The Chair invited Councillor das Neves to introduce the Scrutiny Panel Review on Wards Corner.


Councillor das Neves addressed Cabinet and noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had brought forward a review of Wards Corner which was the culmination of many months of work with 36 hours of evidence heard by the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel. The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny continued to articulate the 14 recommendations put forward by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which were contained at pages 57 to 59 of the agenda pack.


The Leader invited the Cabinet to put forward questions to the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny. There were questions from Councillors: Bull, Chandwani and Ibrahim on the Scrutiny Review recommendations and the following responses were provided by Councillor das Neves with assistance from Councillor Ruth Gordon, who had been the Chair of Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel in 2018/19 where the main evidence for the review had been gathered.


  • With regards to the considerations behind recommendation 2 which sought a review of the Constitution, Part 4 Section G, Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, and asserted that there should be a presumption of officer attendance at Scrutiny meetings, it was noted that the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel had not been able to hear first- hand evidence from the Town Centre Manager who was a fourth tier officer in the Council. The Cabinet noted that Officers below tier three could only attend Scrutiny meetings at the discretion of the Director. Therefore the Committee had added this recommendation for Standards Committee to consider changes to the Constitution. The Leader interjected to highlight that it was correct and important to adhere to the current rules of the Constitution. This document was clear on which Officers Scrutiny had right to question and which Officers were able to attend Scrutiny as part of their job description.


  • In further follow up questions, Councillor Gordon, expressed that any proposed changes to the Constitution, on this aspect, would of course need to involve trade unions and this was set out in the recommendation. It was further clarified that this recommendation was included to highlight that there was discretion to allow this officer to attend which was not applied. Councillor Gordon outlined that the Scrutiny Panel had been receiving information at their evidence gathering meetings on the issues that had occurred at the Market Traders Steering Group meetings over an 18 month period and wanted to verify this with an officer present at these meetings. They further requested the notes of this meeting which were not forthcoming and still felt that it was appropriate for a fourth tier officer to attend and provide this information. The Leader interjected to emphasise that the Councillor was referring to a particular officer and this was inappropriate to do so in this meeting given this issue had already been raised in the Scrutiny review process. Therefore, it was inappropriate to raise this issue at this meeting and more appropriate for the Councillor to relate issues to the response to the recommendations of the Scrutiny review which was the decision at hand for the Cabinet.


  • Taking account the previous exchange between the deputation and Cabinet Members, Cllr Gordon, advised that the Scrutiny Review of Wards Corner had been clear on who owned the land on the Wards Corner site and which parts the Market was situated within and had compiled their recommendations accordingly. There was confusion caused by the conflict of interest between the Market Facilitator and Market Manager role being taken forward by the same person. The Market Facilitator role was a key one, enshrined in the Section 106 responsibility. It was felt that this alleged conflict of interest should have been acknowledged in consideration of the Scrutiny recommendation and agreed given the Council’s responsibility as a Planning Authority. It was further contended that it was the responsibility of the Council to monitor this Market Manager role and how it had been fulfilled. The Leader asked the AD for Planning to respond on this issue who agreed that ultimately the role of the Council was to monitor section 106 agreements. This point had been accepted and this conflict had been rectified with a change made to the Market Facilitator role.


The Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration formally responded to the Scrutiny review recommendations, thanking the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny for taking forward this review. The recommendations were welcomed and had been carefully considered. The response to each recommendation was set out in appendix 2 of the attached report.


The Cabinet Member outlined that the Council would seek to learn the lessons of the Scrutiny Review and improve its process for the Seven Sister’s development. The Cabinet Member highlighted that the Wards Corner scheme will deliver 196 new homes, and a new commercial space with a vibrant Seven Sisters Market with the Latin village at its heart. This was a long standing scheme and the Development Agreement was reached in 2007. The Cabinet Member was fully aware of the different views expressed about the scheme, including at this meeting. As a Council, the Cabinet were committed to working with communities to ensure that regeneration and investment benefited communities and this had formed the basis of the community wealth building ethos in the manifesto and was further outlined in Borough Plan. This had been the constant focus and the Cabinet Member who was working to ensure that the scheme was consistent with the Council priorities.


The Cabinet Member noted the significant protections in place for traders to continue trading whilst their new Market home was built and a package of financial measures to ensure that they can succeed as businesses when moving to their new home.


The Cabinet Member outlined that, in order to identify a way forward to secure buy in from key stakeholders, the Wards Corner Policy Advisory Group was established to identify a viable future management approach for the Market. As Chair of this group, the Cabinet Member had been working alongside Tottenham ward Councillors and an independent Market expert to review viable models for the future management of the Market. This group’s work and report was previously alluded to in the responses to the deputation.


The Cabinet Member was pleased that the Policy Advisory Group report had been published on 17th of Jan which had been informed by an independent Market expert who had engaged with key stakeholders. The Cabinet Member was aware that one of the key stakeholders in disagreement with the Policy Advisory Group report findings was the Market asset management group. The report was self-explanatory and addressed a number of issues in the Scrutiny recommendations. The Cabinet Member continued to commend the response to the Scrutiny Review to Cabinet colleagues for adoption.


Further to a request from the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration further referred to appendix 2 of the Cabinet response to the Scrutiny review and articulated whether each of the 14 Scrutiny recommendations had been agreed, partially agreed or not agreed.


The Leader invited questions on the Cabinet response to the Scrutiny Review from Councillor Gordon who expressed her disappointment that only 3 of the 14 recommendations had been accepted and 3 partially agreed with 8 not agreed. She felt that there was insufficient acknowledgement that the Scrutiny Panel had found that the Council was adopting an incorrect legal position which, in her view, had led to the CPO enquiry in 2017 also having an assumption that the section106 conditions were not operable or enforceable. Cllr Gordon contended that the Section 106 was deemed not in operation for a long time and this position had only changed during the Scrutiny review in March 2019 when there was an acknowledgement by Legal services that the Section 106 was now operative. The Panel sought to discover the timing of this change in position and did not receive a response during the review.


Cllr Gordon further impressed on the Cabinet to reconsider and approve recommendation 13, acknowledging the support for the traders expressed by Cabinet Members outside of the meeting on social media. This recommendation was simply asking for discussions to take place. She advised that the developer themselves had written to authors of the community plan, acknowledging that this had received planning permission. Whilst Grainger had indicated in their letter that this was not a viable plan, they had offered to meet with the proponents to see which elements could be incorporated into their own development plan. Cllr Gordon felt that this was a good opportunity for the Council to facilitate this engagement.


Cllr Gordon referred to the long standing relationship between the Council and Grainger and continued to advocate that recommendation 13, which sought agreement to a task force made up of community groups working with Grainger to develop their ideas and co-ordinate any combined solution, be agreed. Also that the Council engage with the community and traders to find a way forward.


The Cabinet Member responded, taking account of the disruptions emanating from the  Council public gallery, emphasising the respectful collaborative approach needed by all parties to continue dialogue on the development of the Wards Corner site. The Cabinet Member welcomed the participation of the traders in establishing a viable model for the management and maintenance of the future Market. The Policy Advisory Group had made recommendations relating to this. The Cabinet Member advised that this was the forum where these matters can be discussed. The Cabinet Member was also pleased that Grainger had said that they were willing to engage and the Policy Advisory Group was again the place for these conversations to take place.


There were continual loud disruptions in the gallery area, deterring Cabinet Members and Councillors speaking. The Leader provided a warning for the disturbance to cease otherwise the Cabinet would need to adjourn and convene the meeting in private. The disturbance continued and the Leader called again for the disturbance to cease. The Leader called for a third time for the disturbance to cease.


As the disturbance continued in the gallery, the Leader referred to his right as Chair of the meeting to use his discretion to move straight to the recommendations in the report which would be considered without any further questions. The Leader apologised to attendees and stated that he had wanted to take further questions from members but this had not been made possible due to the frequent and sustained disturbances in the public gallery, objecting to the responses provided and report. To ensure an orderly meeting, it was necessary to move to the recommendations of the report in hand.


The Leader referred to Cabinet Procedure rule 2.7 contained in the Constitution at part 4, section F, which allowed members of the Council to only speak at the invitation of the Chair. [This invitation was no longer in place.] The Leader asked Cabinet colleagues to consider the recommendations set out at paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2 of page 46 of the report pack.




  1. To note the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny panel attached at appendix 1.


  1. To agree the response to these recommendations attached at appendix 2.




Supporting documents: