Billingsgate bylaw changes will have “disastrous” consequences

THE heritage of medieval fish market Billingsgate will be “destroyed” because of bylaw changes according to the Unite union.

Yesterday market owners the City of London Corporation voted in favour of revoking the “obsolete” laws which mean only licensed porters can move fish around the Poplar market.

Unite fish porters have collected around 20,000 signatures in support of the bylaws which the corporation recognise have emotional and historical connotations. The amrket’s history dates back to the 14th century.

Unite has now called on Mayor Boris Johnson to step in despite the corporation saying the laws - some of which date back to 1876 - are not needed anymore.

Debbie McSweeney, Unite officer, said: “The members of the Markets Committee must think again before they destroy the heritage of the iconic Billingsgate Fish Market in London’s East End. The consequences for the market and its workforce will be disastrous.

“The Mayor of London must now step in and ensure Billingsgate Market is not smashed by the City of London Corporation.

“Over 120 fish porters work within Billingsgate Market and their expertise and knowledge ensures the market is well run and successful. They will lose their livelihoods.”

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Mark Boleat, chairman of the Markets Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “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.”