Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10700 - 10719)

  10700. It is just loading bays?
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes.

  10701. And you comment on pollution in paragraph 20 of your statement. Can you deal with the question of rodent population? What is the effect of any rodent infestation?
  (Mr Lawrence) Well, if there would be any rodent infestation it would be an absolute disaster, imagewise as well as for customers. It would be an absolute disaster.

  10702. You mention in paragraphs 23-25 refrigeration and other services, and you have noted that the Promoter stated that it will require the nominated undertaker to ensure essential supplies are not interrupted and, indeed, obviously if the escalator does not go ahead in the market basement car park, that will make things easier. Can you indicate the importance of the refrigeration to the market?
  (Mr Lawrence) We are not allowed to trade without refrigeration. In the cutting plants, what we call the cutting rooms have to be below 7 degrees and the meat has to be below 7 degrees before we are allowed to start cutting the meat. It is absolutely vital to the running of the businesses.

  10703. And then in paragraphs 28 and 29 can I identify what you consider to be the losses that market traders are likely to sustain?
  (Mr Lawrence) Sorry, in what way?

  10704. You have identified in your witness statement the two types of losses that you think market traders are most likely to sustain.
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes. For the carcass trade more so than the boxed trade the contamination of meat and the traffic issue is absolutely vital to the running of the market.

  10705. MR DINGEMANS: Thank you very much.


  10706. LORD BROOKE OF ALVETHORPE: Could I just ask a question? What is the ratio between the traders who are dealing in carcasses and those dealing with boxes?

  (Mr Lawrence) 50:50 roughly.

  10707. And on paragraph 25 in your witness statement, on the issue of failure of the refrigeration system, do you have insurance to cover you for loss arising from that? For instance, I have personal insurance and if my deep freeze collapses I get compensation from my insurance company.
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes, we do. There has been a problem in the past when the summer months come obviously, but the answer is yes, we do have insurance.

  10708. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I have two questions. In relation to the point that was asked about the trading time, again for me to get a sense of perspective of trading in the market, does the majority of trading take place during night hours, finishing approximately I think you said nine o'clock? If I said 90 per cent of trading finishes at nine o'clock would I be exaggerating? Could you give me the right figures?
  (Mr Lawrence) No. You would be fairly correct.

  10709. So it would be fair to describe it as principally a night-time operation, but with some extension?
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes, it would, and in the last two, three, four years, because of the dreaded congestion charge, we have had to start earlier and earlier, and now the hours are more horrific than they have ever been. But the cutting carcass shops start approximately at ten o'clock and finish round about nine o'clock. The box shops start round about midnight, between midnight and one, and some of them do go on longer than nine o'clock in the morning.

  10710. And in relation to paragraph 22, I can understand your concern about vermin but you know what they say in London, I forget what it is, every one of us is no more than six feet away from a rat—present company excepted, of course! But, seriously, reading the paragraph: "For that reason it is essential that proper and effective mitigation measures are put in place to control the spread of pollution and vermin," presumably you have mitigation measures on-going in relation to that?
  (Mr Lawrence) On-going, yes. Every tenant has a contract.

  10711. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Thank you.

  10712. CHAIRMAN: Mr Mould?

Cross-examined by MR MOULD

  10713. MR MOULD: And the reason for that, of course, is perfectly straightforward: it is clearly in your economic interest and those of your members to keep to the absolute minimum the amount of meat you have to put to waste?

  (Mr Lawrence) Absolutely.

  10714. Insofar as insurance is concerned, you were asked a question about insurance and a damaged refrigeration unit. Do you also have insurance in relation to meat that is wasted due to failure to meet pollution control standards?
  (Mr Lawrence) No.

  10715. Why is that? Because such insurance is not available because your members do not regard it as a sufficiently likely risk that it is worth seeking insurance on?
  (Mr Lawrence) Could you just clarify what you mean about the meat —

  10716. Yes. You have explained in paragraphs 20-22 of your statement, put simply, that you have to meet exacting hygiene standards, and clearly there is a risk that from time to time, for whatever reason, meat is inspected and found not to meet those standards and has to be put to waste. That is right, is it not?
  (Mr Lawrence) On the fresh carcass side meat would never be accepted if it was not in the proper condition. That is the first point. On the second part, the box shops, if the vacuum busts or whatever, when it comes in vacuum-packed, then it would not have so much life on it.

  10717. So there are two risks there, and if those risks are realised from time to time then obviously the income that would otherwise be obtained from those goods would be lost?
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes.

  10718. My question is, I think you have said you do not insure against those particular risks and nor do your members, is that right?
  (Mr Lawrence) Yes.

  10719. Is the reason for that either because insurance is not available for those risks, albeit that you have asked for it, or because your members have chosen not to pursue any insurance arrangements in relation to those particular risks because they do not regard them as sufficiently realistic to merit protection against?
  (Mr Lawrence) As the market stands there is not too much meat that does get condemned anyway.

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