By FWi staff

SURREYS last remaining livestock market, at Guildford, is to close ending over 700 years of history.

Local producers will be left with the prospect of long journeys to other outlets.

The announcement by South East Marts ends over a year of uncertainty over future of the market, which has lost over 500,000 in the past four years.

The company also faced with what Chris Sykes, SEMs managing director, called a “swingeing” rise in rent from 16,000 for the 3ha (8acre) site to at least 100,000, although agents for the sites owner, Guildford Borough Council, reportedly asked for much more.

Local supporters have been angered by SEMs decision which has been prompted, they believe, by a financial incentive to relinquish the remaining 75-year lease to allow the site to be redeveloped.

Mr Sykes says the market will have to close anyway, even if the proposal is rejected by a full sitting of the council on 8 March.

“We are only doing what any right-minded producer would do in similar circumstances,” argues Mr Sykes.

Up to 26 part-time and two full-time employees could loose their jobs.

SEMs other centres at Thame, Oxon and Hailsham, Sussex will not be affected.