THE BATTLE to save Northampton livestock market has moved up a gear, as supporters formed a new company and submitted a bid to buy the site.

Called The Northampton Regional Livestock Market Company, the bid is said to reflect the value of the site as a livestock market, and “not some inflated development value”.

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

Andrew Cowling, director of Northamptonshire Auctions, said the site was not offered for sale specifically as a livestock mart, but as an auction venue.

Richard Sawbridge, farmer and chairman of the farmers‘ consortium that has campaigned to save the mart, wrote to farmers to ask them to support the new company.

He has appealed for them to demonstrate their commitment by purchasing a loan note to the value of £5.

It would be fully refundable if the project failed, and would 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:

“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, he said.

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

ian.ashbridge@rbi.co.uk