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Tower Bridge: further crackdown on illegal traders

Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

The City of London Corporation has reached agreement with Tower Hamlets to work together to prevent illegal street trading on Tower Bridge. The Square Mile authority already has arrangements with Southwark Council.

Tower Bridge: further crackdown on illegal traders

Traders including peanut sellers have been hawking their goods on the grade I-listed crossing for years while officials were often powerless to stop them.

Earlier this year we reported on the game of cat and mouse between traders and officials as they took advantage of differing enforcement regimes on the Southwark and Tower Hamlets sides of the bridge.

The City of London's Bridge House Estates owns the 800ft-long bridge, but City officers had no jurisdiction over the bridge's northern side, which is controlled by Tower Hamlets council.

But a legal agreement between the two has now been thrashed out, and the City looks set to enforce a clampdown on the 125-year-old bridge.

City bosses were "mortified" that traders continued for "several months" to burden the bridge, which Tower Hamlets has been reluctant to send staff to patrol due to a lack of resources . And they raised fears that hawkers would cause a nuisance as thousands more tourists flocked to its walkways for the Easter holidays.

At a Guildhall meeting last week common councilman Christopher Hayward, said: "I don't believe we have had any response from Tower Hamlets, they have had several months to read the details now."

He added: "We're all mortified by it. We will try it again and keep trying."

Common councilman Sylvia Moys told the meeting: "I expect Tower Hamlets to get on with this and have it ratified without any more delay whatsoever."

One trader – who asked not to be named – told the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service: "I have been on this bridge for over a year. I have never seen anyone tell me to stop."

The trader, who sells pots of peanuts and almonds for £2, added: "I'm not worried, if they come, they come."

A City of London Corporation spokesman said: "We're pleased to have reached an agreement with Tower Hamlets that will enable us to work together to prevent illegal street trading on Tower Bridge.

"Illegal trading on our bridges is not acceptable and creates health and security concerns for members of the public.

"It is only right that we continue to keep our City clean and safe for our workers, visitors and residents."

A Tower Hamlets spokesman added: "We have been involved in discussions with the City about sharing enforcement powers in this area so as to maximise the coverage in place. The formal agreement on this was finalised this week."

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