Taking advantage of COVID-19
to end London’s Latin Quarter?
It should be noted that every trader in the Latin Village is from an ethnic minority background
12 March 2020
- At a time when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suddenly announced: “Many families will lose their loved ones before their time” which sent the UK into a state of panic buying which caused food shortages. The Deputy Mayor of London Joanne McCartney chaired a meeting with traders and landowner Transport for London (TfL) regarding their essential works to the Latin Village. TfL promised they would do everything they could to keep it open during the works.
16 March 2020
- Power cut due to electricity provider discovering that private company MAM/Quarterbridge was unlawfully abstracting electricity from neighbouring building. Public corporation TfL pays the bill but electricity is not restored. No legal action is taken against MAM/Quarterbridge. There is no natural light in the Latin Village and traders work in the dark while losing perishable food stock during a week of frantic panic buying and food shortages.
- The United Nations released a statement in relation to the Covid-19 which stated some may find “emergency powers attractive because it offers shortcuts.”
23 March 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new measures ordering the closure of non-essential shops which excluded “market stalls which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food” and restaurants “exceptions food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.”
- Private-public partnership agent advises traders market will remain open as “many report increased sales as shoppers seeking an alternative to supermarkets. The shorter supply chain of market retailers means they are less subject to delivery delays.”
- Grainger PLC writes to traders drawing attention to their loss of legal appeal against the move to Apex House and demolition of Wards Corner site. Grainger PLC advises traders of plans to move traders by the end of the year.
24 March 2020
- The private-public partnership agent ordered the closure of the Latin Village which is within Seven Sisters Indoor Market advising, “We have been asked by LB Haringey Public Health Department to advise them of any non-compliance.” Many of the traders sell specialised food products for the Latin American population which is not provided in the main food chain stores.
- A few days after all essential food outlets were eventually ordered to close, the traders were still without electricity. They were treated in a very insensitive manner. According to traders, the private-public partnership agent staff said to traders “you no longer have a future here, the electricity is not going to be fixed, you have already lost everything, and you’ll have to adjust to the new rules when you’re moved”.
- Traders question the actual motive behind the prevention of sales of culturally appropriate food. According to another London market: “the provision of culturally appropriate food is vital to building up peoples’ immune systems and the developers are clearly taking advantage of COVID-19 and it is a dangerous precedent”.
1 April 2020
- Afro-Colombian trader Fabian who was supported for many years by Member of Parliament David Lammy while he filed and fought his race discrimination case against private-public partnership agent MAM/Quarterbridge was admitted to the intensive care due to contracting coronavirus. He was trading at the Latin Village until the day of his admission.
- It was reported in the press that Harvard University researchers found that workplaces, where stress levels are high, have worse rates of infections. We suspect that all the stress that led up to his admission was not helpful.
9 April 2020
- Private-Public partnership agent advised traders to visit Latin Village to collect letters and handover keys during official lockdown close to the COVID-19 peak on the Easter Weekend
- The traders have been under significant stress, discrimination, etc since Quarterbridge/MAM’s appointment in 2015, compounded by COVID-19 and the power cut on the 16th March which left them with no power. The electricity had still not been restored at the time of writing this post.
- Traders are considering that the current COVID-19 crisis is being used as a shortcut to achieve private-public partnership development agenda.
- According to the BBC reporting on the UK situation “there is some evidence to suggest that coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
11 May 2020
An insolvency practitioner is appointed by the current market operator. They communicate to the traders that if a deal is not possible the Latin Village may shut permanently, threatening the 40 ethnic minority businesses and the livelihood of around 120 ethnic minority workers.
22 May 2020
Grainger PLC is hastening Apex House works while TfL is stalling the restoration of electricity at the Latin Village. Traders are asked to participate in the unit design, however, no information is provided on forecasted rents. Communication is sent to Market Facilitator copying in Grainger PLC CEO requesting forecasted rent information. The requested information is not provided.
24 May 2020
Boris Johnson PM announces a planned date for reopening non-essential business. The public-partnership agent reminds traders that it is possible that Latin Village will not reopen and adds padlocks to the main entrances to all the main entrances to prevent traders from accessing their trading units.
2 June 2020
In concert with their agent, TfL informs traders that the Latin Village may not reopen soon due to essential works “as a result of years of neglect“. Seventy-five percent of the market is still without power and TfL has stalled the restoration of electricity throughout the lockdown.
5 June 2020
MAM/Quarterbridge issues traders rent invoices despite the fact that:
- they are enjoying a rent holiday by landlord TfL until the COVID-19 situation returns to normal
- they have been defrauding traders in the overcharging of utilities
- they were caught by TfL in the unlawful abstraction of electricity through its connection to the grid from a neighbouring building. By ‘unlawful’ we mean a criminal act, specifically commission of an offence under Section 13 of the Theft Act 1968
- a race discrimination claim was filed under the Equality Act 2010 against them by Afro-Latin trader Fabian in addition to numerous complaints of discrimination, victimisation, and harassment
15 Jun 2020
Non-essential businesses and indoor markets are allowed to open in the UK. The Latin Village: Pueblito Paisa in Seven Sisters Indoor Market is still closed. Due to managed decline over almost 5 years which has been taken too far by stakeholders, and essential remedial works being stalled during the COVID-19 lockdown. Traders and the Latin American community are paying the consequences of structural racism whilst COVID-19 was already exacerbating existing inequalities and will be unable to trade. Moreover, the wider Latin American community is without a Mutual Aid Centre and registered Community Asset during a time of a forecasted economic recession.
30 Nov 2020
After years of lobbying and SLV chairing two meetings, the Mayor of London awards financial assistance to the traders which amounts to £13,150 per trader. It should be noted, that the Latin Village was not closed due to COVID-19 but due to the landowner’s failure to abide by statutory health and safety duties. Thus the traders have not been able to access all of the COVID-19 government support due to the eligibility criteria of closure because of COVID-19.
7 April 2021
Grainger issues communication to traders advising them, that it, “has identified significant challenges to the project’s viability, we are disappointed to confirm that we are not currently able to proceed with the installation of the temporary market at Apex Gardens.” It should be noted that Grainger PLC has not been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and published financial results up to March 2021 demonstrate a “strong performance and continued growth trajectory.”