British Queen celebrates

The Markets Committee of the City of London Corporation has today (Monday 29 November 2010) voted in favour of revoking the outdated byelaws at its three food markets, which have been overtaken by national and EU legislation.

A lengthy consultation period revealed only one area of real contention: the licensing of the fish porters at Billingsgate. The City of London Corporation does not employ porters, and the licence is only a permit to work, although it recognises the emotional significance to the porters themselves and its historical connotations. However, nobody has made a coherent business case to continuing to licence only 20% of the Billingsgate workforce.

The proposals to revoke the byelaws, some of which date from 1876, have been supported by the fish merchants and their representative body, London Fish Merchants’ Association, who say that their businesses are being adversely affected by the portering arrangements.

Mark Boleat, Chairman of the Markets Committee at the City of London Corporation, says:

“I am very pleased that members have voted in favour of revoking these obsolete byelaws, which are not needed in modern markets. The City of London Corporation recognises that Billingsgate’s porters have opposed the plans and argued that the market’s future is now under threat. We do not share that view at all.

“We are committed to helping Billingsgate flourish and we are confident about its future. Today’s decision is proof of that, and it now paves the way for the Union and the porters’ employers to begin productive negotiations about modernising working practices.”


Andrew Buckingham