16 August 2002

Norwich back after 18 months

LIVESTOCK sales resumed at Norwich Market earlier this week – the first for nearly 18 months, after the foot-and-mouth outbreak and a battle to save the site.

A new company, Norwich Livestock Market, will run the Hall Road site, on the edge of the city. There is also a new logo: "Owned by farmers and run by farmers", and it is that principle that the organisers hope will make the operation a goer.

The three-man committee running the market is headed by Peter Howell, a local cattle farmer, who was relieved to have got it going again. "It is the day we have all been working towards," he said.

Two other farmers make up the committee. Pat Key, who looks after the sheep sales, and David Balls, who will run the cattle sales when they begin on Sept 16.

Mr Balls was really pleased with the first sale, which attracted more than 200 local producers, but said there was still much work to do to guarantee that the site survives.

"Its the overhead costs that kill a market. All our staff are part-time and it is run by farmers. This is how we will make money from the site, everything will go back to the company.

"For a first run, we were really pleased with the way the sale went. We are all stock people and have a fair idea what is needed."

When all the refurbishment is complete, it will have cost £30,000 to get the market up to scratch, with the biggest cost being paint to tidy up the pens.

"Trading standards and DEFRA have been very helpful. We cant fault their assistance, they have been really good," added Mr Balls.

Several farmers have already pledged cash to help the market, but the company hopes to raise about £200,000 to ensure it can survive without borrowings.

A total of 2500 sheep were catalogued for the first sale with a good run of more than a 1000 store lambs, averaging £28.49. Ewe lambs levelled at £34.51, selling to a top of £65.

The next sale at Norwich, which will be its official opening on Sept 16, will combine cattle and sheep. Entries should contact David Balls on 07989-343442. &#42