SUPPORTERS OF Northampton livestock market have formed a new company and submitted a bid to buy the site from operator Northamptonshire Auctions.

The ailing operator, which ceased livestock trading two years ago, has now offered the site on the open market with a guide price of 3.5m.

Richard Sawbridge, farmer and chairman of the farmers’ consortium that has campaigned to save the mart, wrote to farmers earlier this month to gauge support for the new venture.

In his letter, Mr Sawbridge appealed to farmers to demonstrate their commitment to a new firm, The Northampton Regional Livestock Market Company, by purchasing a loan note to the value of 5.

The loan notes would be fully refundable if the project failed, and did not commit the buyer to subsequently purchase shares.

Alastair Brodie, of Thrapston-based Henry H Bletsoe & Son which has looked after Northampton”s farmers since its closure, said: “The site is offered on the basis of its existing use – not as a development site.

“We will submit a strong bid. We need a modern livestock market facility in Northampton.” Earlier plans to find a new location for the mart would have meant a delay of up to two years before a new mart could open, said Mr Brodie.

The farmers’ consortium said its bid would reflect the value of the site as a livestock market, and “not some inflated development value”.

Andrew Cowling, director of Northamptonshire Auctions, said he was aware the farmers’ consortium intended to bid for the site, but said it was not offered for sale specifically as a livestock mart, but as an auction venue.

An announcement on the outcome is expected in mid-February.