13 Nov 2007
This was quite interesting AND funny!!
English donkey law branded an ass
LONDON (AFP) - An ancient law banning an English town from holding a market because it is less than "a donkey ride" away from one in a rival town, was branded an ass Tuesday.
The centuries-old law is used by residents of South Shields near Newcastle to prevent their neighbours in North Shields -- just on the other side of the Tyne river -- from setting up a market.
"We have been trying for a number of years to get around this," said Maggie Richardson of the North Shields Chamber of Trade and Commerce, which wants to set up a weekly market.
"But every time we have approached South Tyneside Council, they say they were given a market charter some time in the 1200 region by king John, so that no one can set up a market within a day's donkey ride.
"It is a bizarre situation ... It's not funny, it's pathetic. The law definitely is an ass. We need a market because they bring vibrancy to the town centre."
South Tyneside Council, like the proverbial donkey, won't budge. "South Shields market is both vibrant and popular, and attracts thousands of visitors to the borough every year," said a spokesman.
"It is of great importance to South Tyneside and, as its owner, South Tyneside Council has a duty to protect it from rivals."
The donkey ride distance is commonly understood to mean six and two-thirds miles (10.7 kilometres) -- how far a trader was deemed to be able to travel from home, sell for eight hours, then return in a single day.