22 August 1997

Fight to keep Norwich mart

EAST Anglian farmers are to fight proposals to close Norwichs livestock market and redevelop the site to create extra jobs.

The markets lease runs out in 2004 and the city council argues it must take into account changing trends and the growth of the retail sector.

Norwich has had a cattle market since the 13th century, but the current site at Hall Road has only been used since the 1960s.

Alan Waters, Norwich City Council leader, said the livestock market currently only occupied half of its 4ha (10 acre) site, and it was time to develop its potential to bring in extra jobs to the city.

Resentment felt

But Sandra Nichols, NFU East Anglia policy adviser, said there was resentment among the farming community at the lack of help from the council. "The former livestock market is now Castle Mall – a large shopping centre – and the council must have made a substantial sum of money from that."

She is preparing a report for the Norfolk NFU branch to examine the support for the retention of the market or proposals for an alternative site.

Farmers in the region have recently had to face a string of closures among its livestock markets, including Acle, North Walsham and most recently Kings Lynn. If Norwich closed, the nearest market would be at Bury St Edmunds.

The council is to meet again with the markets different livestock users next month to see if there is any interest in a public/private sponsorship partnership for the market.