Auctioneers speak out

Thursday 28th May 2009 10:00 pm
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AUCTIONEERS on the Abergavenny Cattle Market site have broken their silence in order to "redress balance" on the controversial saga.

In a letter to The Abergavenny Chronicle, Keith Spencer, a director from Abergavenny Market Auctioneers Ltd (AMAL) says, "We cannot allow this romantic and somewhat historic vision to cloud the harsh realities of running a livestock market business and providing the best service for the market users in the 21st Century."

Mr Spencer has spoken out about the criticism of AMAL and the proposed new cattle market at Bryngwyn, near Raglan.

Monmouthshire Council's plans to put a retail park with an Asda on site of the 150-year-old market cannot proceed unless the Assembly Government repeals Victorian laws.

MCC are proposing to build a new cattle market 11 miles away in Bryngwyn, near Raglan. Campaigners, such as KALM, claim the scheme will lead to a decline in visitors and trade.

But Mr Spencer says many users of the market welcome the plan, and worry that its failure would mean the council is short of finance for the new cattle market they need.

"The important point that a new market is needed for its own sake. It's been promised for years and years. A market not just for Abergavenny but for Newport and Monmouthshire. As all the others are closed it's only Abergavenny left. The new market is for everyone - it's always going to be a county market.

"KALM want to keep the market in Abergavenny for their own reasons, they only want it to keep Asda out. They should say they don't want Asda not make a big song and dance about the farmers. We feel a little bit of balance is needed."

Mr Spencer claims the criticism of AMAL is "misguided or misinformed," he said, "It's time we set out position."

"AMAL has held the lease on Abergavenny Market for the last 20 years and for more than half of that time, since 1997, the market has been under threat of development and the auctioneers, threatened with compulsory purchase, not knowing how much longer they will be able to conduct their business from the present site.

"Over the last 12 years debate has taken place over the future of the livestock markets in Monmouthshire i.e. Abergavenny and Monmouth and, although not nowadays in Monmouthshire, Newport.

"Unfortunately Monmouthshire County Council's best efforts to provide a market have been frustrated and the planning application for a site at Bryngwyn is still waiting to be considered by the planning committee.

"This application is being opposed by some and demonised on the basis that Monmouthshire County council should not be providing a "regional market". We believe that it will be a long overdue County Market to replace Abergavenny and Monmouth and those that once existed in Usk and Chepstow whose supporters from the south of the County then had to use Newport. It is in the nature of livestock markets that the successful ones attract stock and buyers from a wide area and even before Monmouth and Newport closed, livestock came to Abergavenny from as far afield as Swansea, Brecon, Hereford and Gloucester with buyers from all over the country including the Midlands, the South East and North of England and occasionally even Scotland. These customers are already coming to Abergavenny which since the closure of Newport is now catering for all those who it is envisaged will patronise the proposed new market. As a matter of fact the livestock capacity of the proposed new market is no more than that of Abergavenny and less than it was before the Tuesday stalls took over part of the market.

"The strain is however beginning to tell as the old and in some cases obsolete fixtures and fittings are inadequate and beginning to fail and the acute shortage of parking space especially for today's large lorries causes more and more congestion in and around the market and forces more Land Rovers and trailers out into the car parks. This will only increase when we come to the busiest period of the year in the Autumn."

Mr Spencer said the need for a new livestock market able to provide up to date facilities, adequate parking and ease of access for large articulated lorries is "evident and urgent."

He said, "It is for these reasons that we have not supported KALM's campaign to keep the livestock market in town. Whilst sympathising with those who value the tradition and feel the town might lose something if the market were to move out of Abergavenny we cannot allow this romantic and somewhat historic vision to cloud the harsh realities of running a livestock market business and providing the best service for the market users in the 21st Century. Even if it was possible from both a practical and financial perspective to upgrade the present facility it is, it would not solve the problem of accommodating all the market traffic and indeed by making the market more attractive would only exacerbate the problem. It is less easy for us to sympathise however with those whose only real motive for keeping the market in town is to thwart the development proposals of Monmouthshire County Council. It was revealing to note how few of those on KALM's protest march were actually market users. We would also like to point out to those who consider that a new livestock market would be an unjustified drain on the Council's capital budget that it can be funded entirely from the capital receipt that will be obtained from the sale of the old market site, which will also help fund the Brewery Yard redevelopment and the new library which is included in the development brief.

"Let no-one be under any misapprehension as to our determination to maintain a livestock market in Monmouthshire. If Monmouthshire County Council are unable or unwilling to provide a new market we will fight tooth and nail to retain the only facility we have despite all its shortcomings and then you would see a real farmer and auctioneer endorsed protest."

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