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Embattled market traders occupy their own units after being evicted

Traders have taken back their stalls at Seven Sisters Indoor Market in north London after being evicted by their landlord.

Traders at an indoor market in north London barricaded themselves inside as security guards with dogs and angle grinders tried to ram down the doors to evict them. 

Black Lives Matter activists and members of Save Latin Village rallied on Saturday night to place themselves between the private security guards and the Seven Sisters Indoor Market – also known as Latin Village.

Traders were evicted last week by landlord Transport for London (TfL), which wants to move them to a temporary site while work is carried out on the existing one. But campaign group Save Latin Village said the nature of the eviction sparked a backlash, with traders said to have arrived at their units to find bailiffs had taken control with no notice.

As a result, some traders returned on Saturday to occupy their units and security was sent in to evict them again. One trader is said to have suffered head injuries. Five are still occupying the units.

“We locked ourselves inside. We didn’t want to get aggressive with anyone, we just wanted to protect our stuff,” said Jaqueline Pinto, who has run a nutrition stall inside the market for four years.

“We felt this was the only way they would listen to us. We didn’t cause any criminal damage.

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“We called the police twice and the police didn’t come. But when they did come, they came for the security guards.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said a spokesperson for Save Latin Village. “The security guards were extremely aggressive, they refused to talk to us on a level. On what grounds were they here with an angle grinder and why is somebody injured?”

Latin Village, which has been closed since March 2020, is at the centre of a long-running redevelopment row. 

In August developer Grainger pulled out of a controversial building project that would have seen traders evicted and a new market created, citing “legal challenges” and “significant delays”.

The move was hailed as a major victory by Save Latin Village, which has developed an alternative community plan backed by Haringey Council that would see them continue to trade at the site while work takes place to create a new market.

“When I came across the Latin Village it was probably the first time in my life I found a Latin American community in the UK… before then I had a lot of issues with my self esteem and I never saw myself as represented,” added the Save Latin Village spokesperson. 

“The Latin Village allowed me to access my culture, actually meet people from South America my age, and be able to celebrate this beautiful community.” 

TfL says it needs to carry out health and safety repairs to gas and electricity systems and has told traders they need to leave the market while work takes place.

They offered traders temporary spaces until work was completed but they have yet to materialise and stallholders say they are waiting to receive written guarantees of their right to return.

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“The safe reopening of Seven Sisters market is our top priority and we are committed to addressing a number of serious health and safety concerns in relation to TfL-owned units on the site,” a Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said. 

“On September 25, one of our units, which our contractors had previously taken possession of, was re-occupied illegally. We are looking to take legal action to re-secure the unit, but also continue to seek an agreement for the occupiers to leave peacefully as soon as possible.”

TfL has paid grants of £13,150 to each of the 37 businesses that applied for funding to tide them over while their businesses were closed. 

However, the traders argue the sum does not match the loss of income they have suffered with the closure.

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Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

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