31 May 2002

Hopes rise for struggling mart

CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save Norwich market have moved one step closer to their aim, following the city councils local elections that took place on May 2.

The elections saw the controlling Labour council voted out in favour of the Liberal Democrats, a move that seems to have benefited those hoping to keep the market open.

Peter Howell, the campaigns leader and local cattle farmer, says the citys new councillors seemed more sympathetic to the market than the old regime and have backed his business plan for the site.

"We have cleared another hurdle. The new council has promised that we can reopen, but there are a few conditions, which will be up for negotiation."

The three-man market committee, chaired by Mr Howell, will now be involved in negotiations with city council staff on agreeing a workable lease and conditions.

Mr Howell aims to open one-third of the site. His plan would cost £15,000 to upgrade the markets facilities to meet DEFRAs new biosecurity rules, a figure well below the £100,000 the council initially quoted as the cost of meeting new operating standards.

Mr Howellis confident a deal can be struck and with interest from auctioneers, he reckons the market could attract other types of stock sales, such as early season sheep breeding sales in July and August. &#42