Agenda item


To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.


A number of questions had been received from Mr Jack Grant. These questions would be referred to Council officers for a written response in due course. (ACTION)


Two deputation requests had also been received by the Panel, both of which related to Item 10 on the agenda about the monitoring of the recommendations of the Wards Corner Scrutiny Review from 2019.


The first deputation was introduced by Marta Hinestroza, who had been a trader at the Wards Corner market since 2006. Also present was Lita Kaguawajigashi, a trader at the Wards Corner market since 2003.


Marta Hinestroza told the Panel that she was speaking on behalf of traders who wished to have a direct say in the running of the market. She had gained refugee status in the UK in 2002 following death threats that she had received in Colombia relating to issues that she had been working on as a human rights lawyer. In 2017 she helped to set up a community organisation, Community Centre Pueblito Paisa CIC, with a focus on arts, culture, advice and counselling. The vision of the traders that she represented was for a market where all were welcome and included social and cultural activities. She had initially been supportive of the proposals in the Community Plan and had been involved in its development and fundraising. Unfortunately, towards the end of 2017, internal relations between traders in the market broke down. She had since been excluded from the development of the Community Plan and she had grave misgivings about those involved with the Community Plan. She alleged that she had been subjected to a whispering campaign and described as a terrorist. In response to a question from Cllr Adje about this, she explained that there were differences in political views in the market.


Marta Hinestroza said that she and other traders did not want to see a situation where a small group of people ran the market and excluded others. Haringey Council therefore needed to step up as the democratically accountable public body to ensure fair treatment of the traders.


Cllr Tucker said that his understanding was that the Council appeared to be backing the West Green Road/Seven Sisters Market Trust to take control of the lease of the market and asked for her view on this body. Marta Hinestroza said that she was not in agreement with this organisation as many traders had been excluded and not provided with proper information about what was happening. Her request to be part of the Trust had been declined despite her previous involvement in the development of the Community Plan. In response to a question from Cllr Tucker, she confirmed that a letter from 17 traders had been sent to the Council asking the Council to take a role in running the market.


Asked by Cllr Ibrahim whether they saw the role of the Council as being an honest broker as an accountable outside body, Lita Kaguawajigashi agreed with this and said that they had felt ostracised and excluded. Marta Hinestroza said if the Council wanted to take responsibility then this was the moment to have that role with the community. She added that there was no guarantee that things would get better for traders and they did not know how much they could be charged if a private company came in.


Cllr Barnes asked whether an independent body such as a charitable trust could be set up to represent the traders and help to run the market. Marta Hinestroza said that while the traders should have a voice, the management should be controlled by the Council to oversee the shared interests in the market. Cllr Hare suggested that the Council could perhaps better achieve these objectives by helping to set up a charitable body and assisting with the governance arrangements. Marta Hinestroza commented that she wished the community be united with mutual understanding but, as this was not the case, the leadership of the Council was needed.


The second deputation was introduced by Myfanwy Taylor, a local resident from West Green ward, an active member of the Wards Corner Community Coalition, an academic expert in the community value of markets and a trustee of the West Green Road and Seven Sisters Development Trust. Also present was Nicholas Amayo, a trader at the market for the past 12 years and the deputy chair of the Seven Sisters Market Tenants Association.


At the outset, Myfanwy Taylor noted that it was sad to hear some of what had been said in the previous deputation, but recognised their contribution to the Community Plan and campaign and expressed the hope that the community divisions could be healed. She noted that it had been just over a month since Grainger had withdrawn from Wards Corner, citing viability problems with the scheme. She said that it was now urgent to deliver on the Community Plan and so she was encouraged by the Council’s decision to show support for the Community Plan.


Myfanwy Taylor said that the Community Plan proposed the sensitive and sustainable restoration of the Wards Corner building to deliver a new and improved space for the indoor market alongside new affordable retail, office and community space. All existing traders would be included in the market with rents maintained at existing levels. The Community Plan had originally been proposed by a group of market traders in 2007 and had been revised several times since then following community meetings, workshops and events. The Community Plan had obtained planning permission in 2014 and again in 2019.


Myfanwy Taylor said that 28 out of 38 market traders had recently signed a statement in support of the Community Plan. Following a successful application to the Architectural Heritage Fund for a Project Viability Grant this summer, reports were being prepared to put the Community Plan on a more conventional design pathway. Meetings would be organised with traders and the community to inform those reports. Studies commissioned by the West Green Road/Seven Sisters Market Trust had demonstrated the financial viability of the Community Plan which would be a £13m development funded by £6m of identified grant funding, £6m of ethical investment and a £1m community share issue. Conversations were underway with potential funders and investors and specialist advice had been sought to inform the community share offer. Work was beginning to develop the Wards Corner Community Benefit Society (CBS) which would be a democratic organisation, owned by its members to deliver the Community Plan and manage the building for the benefit of the community on a one-member one-vote basis. This would be open to all traders and community members with everyone invited to participate in workshops to shape the CBS in the coming months. The role of the Trust would be to reinvest the surplus from the Community Plan in other projects but not to deliver the Community Plan itself.


Asked by Cllr Adje about the ethical investment funding, Myfanwy Taylor said that informal discussions had taken place with two ethical investment banks but the lack of sightline to the lease from TfL remained a barrier. Asked by Cllr Adje about the status of the Trust, Myfanwy Taylor said that it was currently listed as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee but the aim was to register it as a charity.


Asked by Cllr Ibrahim for further details about the ethical investment banks and the potential role of the Council as an ethical investor, Myfanwy Taylor said that discussions with the two banks were at an early stage and that the Trust would of course be willing to explore any funding opportunities from the Council or the GLA. Only £6m of grant funding had been identified which was why support from an ethical investment bank was required.


Asked by Cllr Barnes how they proposed to engage with market traders who do not support the Community Plan proposals, Myfanwy Taylor said that the Trust engages directly with all traders and would continue to do so. Nicholas Amayo added that the divisions in the community was unfortunate but that they were open to reconciliation and that the goal was a Seven Sisters market with a bright future.


In response to a question from Cllr Barnes about the idea of the Council managing the market,Myfanwy Taylor said that the role of the Council was important to advance the Community Plan and to support the development of good relations between all stakeholders. However, the ambition of the traders had long been to self-manage the market.


Cllr Tucker suggested that what was being proposed was a complicated arrangement involving unnamed grant funders and investment banks that need a return on their money. He then raised the proposed one-member, one-vote management structure of the CBS, asking who would be able to vote under these arrangements and why this would be preferrable to management from the Council which was a publicly accountable body with expertise, financial wherewithal and a direct relationship with local residents. Myfanwy Taylor responded that the CBS had not yet been set up and that establishing the membership criteria would be discussed through the forthcoming workshops. The CBS was intended to benefit the local community so there would be few restrictions on membership and would include market traders and local residents. She added that the return of investment required by the investment banks had been factored into the financial model commissioned by the Trust. The CBS would be owned, run and managed by the local community, would draw on professional advice and would work productively with the Council.


Asked by Cllr Hare whether there was a possible language barrier between the two groups of traders, Myfanwy Taylor said that, wherever possible, materials were translated into Spanish though this was a work in progress and resources were limited. In response to a query from Cllr Hare about rent paid by traders, Myfanwy Taylor said that rents in the new market space would be kept at existing levels and that any surplus generated by the scheme would be reinvested in the market rather than being taken out by private shareholders.


Cllr Ibrahim commented that a key point from the previous deputation was that public assets are best held in public control. She also asked how the CBS would engage with the wider community, including those who were not aware of the CBS or found it difficult to attend meetings. Myfanwy Taylor said that the original public meetings and workshops that informed the Community Plan had been initiated by market traders themselves and had been a successful approach. It would be necessary to build the CBS in a way that was democratic and inclusive but there was a lot of work to do. She felt that the community should be offered the chance to carry out the plan themselves noting that the Council had proceeded with the Grainger plan for the past 15 years. The Council would still have a key role to play in the Community Plan however.