Traders: Stalled roof repairs put us at risk

Smithfield butchers brand delayed work ‘irresponsible’

Friday, 27th November 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Smithfield Market Canopy smith

The collapsed canopy

MEAT traders in Smithfield Market have called for more protection after a section of the roof and window panels above their heads collapsed.

Butchers say repair work on the Grade II-­listed East Poultry Avenue, Farringdon, has taken too long and is putting them at risk.

A concrete canopy collapsed in August and glass panels came down last month.

The City, which owns the landmark site, said it would be erecting netting to catch any further objects – a strategy labelled a “crash pad”.

Greg Lawrence, who chairs the Smithfield Market Tenants’ Association, told the Tribune: “It’s been nearly five months since the canopy first collapsed and the work isn’t finished. It’s just irresponsible.”

Tenants say that City of London Corporation has been aware of the state of the concrete canopy since at least 2013 as it was listed as part of the historic works programme.

Writing in the Smithfield Gazette, Mr Lawrence added: “The impact on market operations and on traffic flows in the area has been severe and if that were not bad enough a glass panel in the canopy on the south side of the West Market failed – again. Fortunately, no one was injured. Since then a further two panels have failed in the same area.”

Traders have also been disrupted by animal rights campaigners who turned up last month with cameras and banners. They were “ushered out” of the premises by the traders.

The demonstration was not as large as the 200-strong Animal Rebellion camp that sat in at the market last year.

The five covered buildings that make up Smithfield Market now were built in the 19th century. The meat traders are mostly concentrated in the two Grade II-listed buildings known as the East and West Markets, split by the Grand Avenue.

The Poultry Market, which burnt down in the 1950s and was rebuilt, is the building next to it. It is earmarked for redevelopment along with the General and Fish Market buildings next door.

The Museum of London has submitted plans which would see them move in within two years.

The City plans to move the Smithfield tenants to a site in Barking and Dagenham where it will be combined with Billingsgate and New Spitalfields.

A City spokesman said: “Thankfully, there were no injuries sustained in the recent canopy collapse at Smithfield Market and traders were able to operate without significant disruption.

“Urgent remedial work has been undertaken and access to the area is restricted with additional security resources allocated to manage and control operations within the market. With regards to the glass panels, a bespoke netting solution has been manufactured and will be installed from the end of next week and it is hoped that East Poultry Avenue will be able to reopen from November 30.”

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