3 March 2000

Anger at Guildford market closure

SURREYs last remaining livestock market at Guildford is to close ending over 700 years of history and leaving local producers with the prospect of long journeys to other outlets.

The announcement by South East Marts ends over a year of uncertainty over the future of the market, which has lost over £500,000 in the past four years. The company also faced what Chris Sykes, SEMs managing director, called a "swingeing" rise in rent from £16,000 for the 3ha (8 acre) site to at least £100,000, although agents for the sites owner, Guildford Borough Council, reportedly asked for much more.

Local supporters have been angered by SEMs decision, which has been prompted, they believe, by a financial incentive to relinquish the remaining 75-year lease to allow the site to be redeveloped. Mr Skyes says the market will have to close anyway, even if the proposal is rejected by a full sitting of the council on Mar 8.

SEMs other centres at Thame, Oxon and Hailsham, Sussex, will not be affected. &#42