Smithfield traders clinch refit deal

The City of London Corporation has made concessions worth at least pounds 2m to Smithfield meat traders as part of a deal to end a 10-year-old wrangle over refurbishment plans for the market.

The agreement will allow the Corporation, which owns and administers the site, to begin the second phase of a pounds 60m programme to bring Smithfield into line with European Union requirement.

Traders exerted pressure on the Corporation by using its archaic electoral system to vote two of their representatives on to the Court of Common Council, the Corporation's ruling body, earlier this year. Even though the dispute is over, the traders say they have no intention of dismantling their new political power base.

The package agreed by the two sides includes an undertaking to freeze rents until all the new accommodation is ready for occupation, so traders moving from the older stalls into their new ones are not faced with higher costs.

When the second phase of the work is completed, probably within the next two years, a new rent of pounds 20 a square foot will also be frozen for another four years.

Rents are now pounds 13 a square foot, but are increased annually by 9 per cent. The Corporation believes the deal will reduce initial costs for tenants by pounds 2m. In return the traders will pay for the fitting of their new stalls at an estimated cost of between pounds 5 and pounds 7 a square foot.

John Brewster, chairman of the Smithfield Market Tenants Association (SMTA), said it was the deal the traders had wanted. 'The new rents, when the place is finished, will include service charges and an office will be thrown in.'

Michael Cassidy, the chairman of the Corporation's powerful policy committee, said he and the traders had reached a compromise. 'We have peace and honour on both sides.'

The Corporation has also agreed to pay 75 per cent of the cost for a new carcass delivery system (estimated at pounds 1m), and to honour the bids for new stall reservations made by individual traders while the SMTA and the local authority were refusing to negotiate.

At the heart of the dispute was the threat by traders to use a local government loophole that would have meant that they would have significantly increased their power within the Corporation.

People who own or lease property are allowed to vote in Corporation elections and the traders discovered that it was legal to lease buildings across the City, divide them into hundreds of small areas of floor space and sublet each section to family and friends. Each would then be qualified to vote.

Although the compromise has now been reached, the opportunity to strengthen the traders' power remains.

For those wanting to vote in December the closing date for registration was 15 June and the Corporation believes the traders may have recruited as many as 200 people over the City's 25 wards.

Peter Martinelli, a former trader and an elected member of the Court of Common Council, said: 'We are never going to relinquish the vote we have.

'All I can say is that I would think it will have been hundreds of hundreds who have registered.'

However, Mr Cassidy believes the traders who have registered will not pose a threat to the stability of the Corporation.

'They have registered their hundreds of supporters, but I have more than matched their numbers in my own ward by my own supporters. My expectation is that they will rapidly lose interest now this agreement has been reached.'

He said one-third of the wards have fewer than 1,000 electors and are, therefore, vulnerable to the efforts of the traders using the electoral

loophole.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

    Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Luton - £24,000

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst vacancy with a we...

    Recruitment Genius: Instructional Training Designer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic and interes...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse & Stores Supervisor

    £16224 - £20280 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Warehouse & Stores Supervisor...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen