By FWi staff
THE battle is on to save at least one of three Welsh auction markets from closure.
The operating company, Caernarfon-based Bob Parry Auctioneers, has closed down its livestock trading section, effectively shutting Llanwrst, Bryncir and Talycafn markets.
The company announced it was shedding 12 staff and would be concentrating on other parts of its business.
Managing director Brian Sharpe said the centres had traded at a loss for some time and the compulsory shut down due to foot-and-mouth disease was the last straw.
The company could no longer subsidise livestock operations.
He claimed the market business had suffered from an increased volume of bad debts, higher operating costs and government policies that encouraged farmers to bypass livestock markets and direct sell.
Both Welsh farming unions immediately agreed to throw their weight behind any moves to save the biggest of the three markets at Llanwrst, which they claimed was essential for competitive marketing in the area.
Closure would put up farmers costs by forcing them to move stock longer distances.
Independent butchers, which supply local customers and those catering for the big tourist trade in north-west Wales, are also backing a rescue bid and at least one major bank has expressed interest in becoming involved.
Elfed Williams, NFU Cymru/Waless Llanwrst-based group secretary, is one of the co-ordinators of the group trying to save the towns market.
He said the plan was to form a co-operative that can lease or buy the site.
The aim would be to operate on one extra day each week and persuade farmers and buyers who used the Talycafn site five miles away to switch allegiance to Llanwrst.
“Farmers will need livestock markets more than ever when the foot-and-mouth epidemic is over,” Mr Williams insisted.
“Closure would rip the heart out of this market town, which is why everyone is rallying round.”
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