London authorities crack down on Tower Bridge hawkers


Two central London authorities have announced they will put an end to illegal street traders operating on Tower Bridge.

Traders including peanut sellers have been hawking their goods on the Grade I-listed crossing for months while officers from the City of London Corporation and Tower Hamlets Council were often powerless to stop them.

The City of London’s Bridge House Estate owns the 800ft-long bridge, but a legal quirk meant 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.

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The Hawkers were initially avoiding authorities by jumping from one side of the bridge to the other, out of each authority’s district

At a meeting on 2 April, councillor 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.”

Councillor 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.”