20,000 Londoners say’hands off Billingsgate Published: 29 September, 2010
MORE than 20,000 Londoners have signed a petition calling on Boris Johnson, the capital city’s mayor, to support the Billingsgate Fish Market porters who fear for their jobs.
The strength of public feeling about the historic market was made known to the mayor when he was presented with the petition.The City of London Corporation’s wants to revoke bylaws which require porters to be licensed. Some fear it could alter the unique culture of what is thought to be the world’s oldest fish market.
The workers have already warned that plans to revoke bye-laws governing the running of Billingsgate Market threaten its future and will lead to job losses. They already have the support of several London celebrities including Harry Rednapp, manager of Tottenham Hotspur football club.
The Unite trade union has rallied to the porters cause, handing in a formal response to the corporation’s consultation on the removal of the bylaws yesterday. Unite’s London regional officer Steve Hart said: “As our response to the consultation shows, this foolish plan will destroy centuries of heritage. It is driven by ideology rather than common sense. The fish porters have the support of over 20,000 Londoners in their opposition to the fundamental changes being proposed.”
He added: “The corporation must hear the opposition of the fish porters, the public and even some of the fish merchants at Billingsgate. This plan has no significant support, apart from external consultants.”
The City of London Corporation says is arguing that changes are necessary if Billingsgate is to be brought into the modern era.