23 August 2002

Farmers fight to save mart

CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save Northampton livestock market have stepped up their bid to stop the site closing later this autumn.

Three weeks ago, farmers were devastated to learn that the market would shut after the directors blamed mounting debts in the region of £1m.

Since then local farmer Richard Sawbridge has been enlisting support for his consortium, which put in a bid to run the market earlier this year.

"We want to have a farmers mart owned by farmers," said Mr Sawbridge. Last time about 250 producers supported Mr Sawbridges campaign pledging £2.4m to save the market.

Letters have been sent to those farmers who pledged money before asking them to repledge. The consortium also hopes it can get in contact with other farmers, market users and members of the general public who wish to back its campaign.

Mr Sawbridge said that the consortium planned to raise enough capital to buy and own the market with auctioneer Henry &#42 Bletsoes from nearby Thrapston market being employed to run the auction.

Last week over 150 people, including about 100 local farmers, attended a meeting with local and borough councillors at Northamptons Guildhall and there was plenty of positive feedback, said Alastair Brodie, partner of Henry &#42 Bletsoe.

"There has been a strong expression of support from both the local and borough council for saving the market."

&#8226 The consortium is holding an open farmers meeting on Aug 29 at Malton Agricultural College at 8pm about the campaign. Anyone interesting in backing Mr Sawbridges consortium should write to Richard Sawbridge, c/o Henry &#42 Bletsoe & Son, Oakleigh House, High St, Thrapston, Northants NN14 4LJ (01832-732241). &#42