29 March 2002

Axe falls on third East Anglian mart

ANOTHER East Anglian livestock market has shut its gates leaving stock farmers in the area little choice but to sell animals straight to processors.

Norwich market is the latest market to close following its near neighbour Aylsham earlier this year and Bury St Edmunds in 1998. The nearest market for livestock farmers in the east will now be Colchester in Essex.

The decision to close the site, which dates back to Saxon times, was made because £100,000 was needed to upgrade facilities.

Site owners Norwich City Council is no longer willing to fund the investment, which would have included new facilities for segregating livestock and cleaning livestock lorries.

The council, which claims the market made an annual loss of £70,000 before foot-and-mouth, said the decision was taken in the light of the national shift towards selling direct to supermarkets and meat processors.

It also consulted with DEFRA and operating auctioneers Irelands and Horners.

"It is very difficult to support a service which is funded by local taxpayers with very little benefit to them," said a council spokesman.

Mike Gamble, of Irelands Auctioneers, said: "There is an ever-decreasing number of livestock to sell in Norfolk and it is very difficult to see that this operation would be viable in the future."

He added the city council had been planning to redevelop the market site for some time and that the decision came as no surprise. &#42