Builth livestock market threatened in health centre plans

Closing Builth market would leave a “gaping hole” in South Wales livestock trading, says the Farmers Union of Wales.

A Welsh rural community desperate for a proposed health centre has united to fight plans to build it onthe site of a thriving livestock market.

Builth Wells Chamber of Trade and other organisations have joined farming unions to fight the proposal to close the market, which they say would drain the town of its economic viability.

A stakeholder meeting this week told the Welsh Assembly that it should consider other suitable sites for the proposed 80-bed Health and Social Care Project.

sheep market

Ironically, farmers who fought to save the town’s cottage hospital are now faced with the closure of the town’s livestock market so that the hospital can be housed in a modern, state-of-the-art unit.

The Farmers Union of Wales has warned that closure of the local authority-owned market, which has an annual throughput of more than 100,000 sheep as well as cattle, would leave a “gaping hole” in South Wales livestock trading.

The NFU said it was fully supportive of the concept of the new health centre, but not at the cost of losing the market.

“We have put in a plea that they look at other sites,” said NFU Cymru Brecon and Radnor Chairman Estyn James. “As a last resort we would want them to find an alternative site for the market. We’re concerned that Powys County Council can’t afford the £3m it would cost to build a new market.”

He added that about 500 farmers travelled from a 20-mile radius to use the market, which employs 10 full-time and 50 casual staff, and has an annual stock turnover of more than £4m.

Rob Meadmore, chairman of the Welsh Association of Livestock Auctioneers and an auctioneer with Brightwells, which operates the market, said the proposal was being made against the background of many market closures.

“It is vital that a market as substantial as Builth Wells remains open to service the needs of the wide area from which its clients come,” he said.

The market has been operating for almost a century and was modernised in the 1980s.

Online editor Julian Gairdner says:

“The proposed closure of this local authority-owned livestock market represents madness on several counts.

“At a time when disease control is paramount, a need for more sustainable local food supply is strengthening, social cohesion in rural areas remains a worry, and rising fuel costs threaten farm profitability, it defies belief that these farmers could be forced into such a precarious position.

“They, and the people of South Wales, deserve a more responsible approach from local government.”

Do you agree? Put your point across in this Builth Wells market closure forum thread