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Billingsgate porters in mass protest to protect ancient licenses

PUBLISHED: 10:47 03 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:17 05 October 2010

MARKET porters protesting this morning at the historic Billingsgate fish-market to protect their ancient role were backed by MPs and London Assembly members. At least 100 demonstrated at the complex near London’s Canary Wharf against a bid to end their centuries-old licensing

By Mike Brooke

MARKET porters protesting this morning at the historic Billingsgate fish-market to protect their ancient role were backed by MPs and London Assembly members.

At least 100 demonstrated at the market complex near London's Canary Wharf at 7am against what they claim is the City Corporation's bid to end the centuries-old licensing of porters.

MP Jim Fitzpatrick, whose Poplar & Limehouse constituency includes Billingsgate, spoke to support the protesters at the rally, along with London Assembly budget chairman John Biggs and ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

"The porters felt angry and frustrated at the City Corporation refusing to come to the negotiating table," Mr Fitzpatrick later told the East London Advertiser.

"They had to invoke the historic Billingsgate Charter that goes back to 1327 to force the City Corporation to negotiate, when the porters will make their case on Thursday."

The leasehold on the Billingsgate complex is up in 2013 and the City Corporation is seeking a new location, possibly further out towards the M25.

"Billingsgate has a historic importance serving London," the MP added. "It is the most famous fish market in the world. Billingsgate is a national treasure that must be protected."

Billingsgate has been in Docklands for the past 35 years, since it moved from its historic site neat the Tower of London where it had been since the 14th century.

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