The future of our markets

Tonight the Markets Committee of the City of London hosted traders and local government leaders to celebrate our wholesale food markets and look to their future. Here I share my speech:

Welcome to all our guests – here tonight in this historic place of those who see our ships safe home, in the very finest of City Wards, we are blessed with the people that collectively are steering forward public services and food supply to our great capital and beyond.

Thanks to you all – the representatives here tonight from London Government, and local Government beyond the M25 in the fine county of Essex, as well as the traders from our world class markets and the officers that keep them running.  

Tonight is a celebration of the traders and their produce and the officers that oversee our markets, because you are what make our markets – THANK YOU

To chair any committee is an honour, to be temporary custodian of our markets is a singular honour.  Commerce is what has made London a great capital, and world city, but it all began with markets.  Today the world may talk first of our financial markets, but people march on their stomachs, and our wholesale food markets; Billingsgate, Spitalfields and Smithfield have provided quality produce to the citizens of London for over 800 years. 

I consider it the duty of the members of the markets committee to ensure they go on serving us for another thousand years or more. So I thank the members for entrusting me to chair this committee, and for all the support they give to our operations. 

Now I ask what can we do to ensure the longevity of the markets? 

We can and must plan for their future and recognise how they have changed.  From the age when live animals were driven to our markets, to the current impressive deliveries through the night of produce from across the globe to the London of tomorrow…

In 1901 there were over 3 million horses supplying transport in London, that year saw the introduction of the famous omnibus and so the great shift to automobiles began. 23 years later the automobile had replaced the horse drawn vehicle in the majority of uses.

15 years ago we saw the congestion charge arrive, and we now face further pressures on transport from the Ultra Low Emission Zone, more use of bicycles, a desire for greener vehicles and perhaps automated vehicles.

So as times change we have had to adapt our markets, and we are in this year looking at the biggest change to our markets since Billingsgate left the square mile in 1982.

This year we are consulting on the future of our markets and looking to potentially consolidate all three on a new site.  A site to be a centre of food excellence with a vision for more integrated transport, better facilaities for traders and room to grow as well as allowing ancilliary food services to co-locate, and I hope we will eventually see an apprentices school for fishmongers and butchers.

An ambitious project that can only happen with those in this room working together.  Whatever the outcomes of our consultation I want to say publicly that our aim is to give London the very best in wholesale food markets for the coming years ahead, and I wish every trader great success in 2019!

I thank you all for coming here this evening to share with us a celebration of the wholesale food markets.