Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10600 - 10619)

  10600. When did you start trading on your own?
  (Mr Abrahams) 1991.

  10601. You say in your paragraph 6 that there are certain aspects of Crossrail that concern you. What are those?
  (Mr Abrahams) Because of the experience that I have had in relation to road closure, road closure, I feel, could have a dramatic effect on the operation of Smithfield in general.

  10602. What was your experience?
  (Mr Abrahams) It was during the closure of what is known as West Poultry Avenue, where the road was closed due to proposed works on a tunnel beneath that road. One of my companies was severely disrupted and business was grossly affected, so much so, that we had to purchase another site and move to another site. Fortunately, we had the resources to do that, otherwise it could have been, really, the end of that particular company.

  10603. You are not at the Lindsey Street end of the market, are you?
  (Mr Abrahams) No, sir.

  10604. However, you say in paragraph 8 that you have concerns for the Lindsey Street end of the market. What are those?
  (Mr Abrahams) Because a market is a market and you need a collection of companies to make a market. It is no good just me being there on my own; that would not constitute a market. So I am concerned that my colleagues on Smithfield would, or could, experience the same conditions that I experienced during the closure of West Poultry Avenue.

  10605. You were able to move. If anyone wanted to move from the Lindsey Street end of the market is there space into which they can now move?
  (Mr Abrahams) At this moment in time there is not, no.

  10606. What do you think will be the effect of the removal, if there is a removal, of loading and unloading bays in Lindsey Street?
  (Mr Abrahams) Again, I think if we could take it back to its simplest form: we all shop on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, and we try to get as near as possible to where we are going to shop. If we take away loading bays it will just restrict where customers can load and unload on Smithfield, and maybe they will think twice about coming.

  10607. In terms of the hygiene legislation, is your trade carcass or boxed?
  (Mr Abrahams) It is predominantly boxed, wrapped and packaged.

  10608. Does that mean it is exposed to the air at all?
  (Mr Abrahams) Not directly, but, again, as I say, it is wrapped and packaged, so it is not directly exposed to the air.

  10609. I think we will hear from some others involved in the carcass trade. Perhaps you can just give some indication of the hygiene levels that are imposed upon the market.
  (Mr Abrahams) We have had to fall into the new EU legislation some years ago, hence the millions of pounds that was spent on refurbishing the Smithfield Market site. The tenants did have to embark on major refurbishment of the internal parts of their stalls, of which refrigeration is a major, major part. Also, I know we have mentioned contamination to the food and meat itself, but we are yet to know how airborne pollution will affect the filters, etcetera of our refrigeration, which may be something that we have overlooked.

  10610. Can I just finish with this: some indication of the number of customers that you deal with each week?
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes. On a group basis we would have somewhere in the region, at its busiest times, of 2,000 live accounts per week.

  10611. A "live account" means?
  (Mr Abrahams) An active account; so somebody coming in and buying and purchasing.

  10612. MR DINGEMANS: Thank you very much.

Cross-examined by MR MOULD

  10613. MR MOULD: Good morning, Mr Abraham.

  (Mr Abrahams) Good morning.

  10614. You said, I think, that your principal or certainly one of your main concerns was what might result from access to the market being stopped up during the construction of the works.
  (Mr Abrahams) Could you just amplify—

  10615. Road closures.
  (Mr Abrahams) Road closure, yes.

  10616. I wonder if we could put up, please, page 038. I just want to be clear where we are on that. I do not know if you can see that, but can you see clause 3 on that page, headed: "Vehicular Access to and around the Market"?
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes.

  10617. You will see that one of the contractual commitments that we are proposing to offer to you and other tenants of the market is in constructing the authorised works we will, at all times, maintain vehicular access through Lindsey Street and vehicular access around the market. We say that access for that purpose includes access for 38 and 44-tonne vehicles. So far as your business is concerned, in the light of that unqualified commitment, will you be able to maintain access for your business throughout the construction works?
  (Mr Abrahams) Well, as light follows day, if you are giving us that undertaking, then that undertaking will not affect my business.

  10618. Thank you very much. In regard to loading bays, I think you said that was a concern that you were expressing on behalf of other traders at the eastern end of the market rather than one that you expected specifically to affect your own business, is that right?
  (Mr Abrahams) I do have a company at the western end of the Lindsey Street end of the market.

  10619. We have given a commitment in relation to loading bays, it is at page 39. You will appreciate this commitment was given in relation to the original scheme proposals. Do you remember I described those in opening earlier, which would involve digging out and providing an escalator box beneath the basement?
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes.

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