City’s livestock market row is heating up
08:00 26 July 2014
copyright: Archant 2013
The war of words intensified this week between the directors of Norwich Livestock Market and site owner Graham Dacre.
Farmers, supported by the NFU, have rallied behind the market off Hall Road describing any threat to its future as “appalling”.
Their angry reaction has been sparked by stringent parking restrictions imposed by the Norwich entrepreneur last Saturday on the market access road; he had earlier withdrawn an agreement that gave the market an extra parking area.
Mr Dacre candidly acknowledged that following his action in withdrawing the extra parking, “operating a market within the limitations of a 3.28 acre site will prove a challenge”.
“It is unlikely to be sufficient other in the short term,” he admitted.
He also said the only circumstances in which he would offer them extra parking again would be if the agreement was linked to the market vacating the site within a defined time frame.
The city council, which sold the market site to Mr Dacre four years ago and took it back on a 99-year lease, last week made it clear that it believed it was fulfilling its charter obligation to provide a market by offering the present location.
And Mr Dacre, who admits his long-term goal is to develop the whole site, said: “Common sense would be to give up asking the council to cough up £3.5m of taxpayers’ money to provide a new market.
“The current premises are past their sell by date and I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t be pleased to see the market relocate onto a better located site.
“If NLM had to buy industrial land and cover the normal costs associated with commercial development, it would not make for a viable business. The situation requires a number of wealthy farmers to philanthropically invest in the infrastructure of a new market.”
Market director Mike Beckett said last Saturday’s market had gone off successfully and the only disruption came when farmers wanted to leave and visit the businesses behind it.
He said: “They were confronted by a mobile barrier put in place by Norwich Traffic Control whose personnel were stopping everyone.”
Mr Beckett said Mr Dacre had to take on board the fact he had bought a site with sitting tenants.
“Farmers are a very determined group of people and they are going to fight as far as they can to keep the market open,” he said.
Ken Proctor, a dairy farmer at Shipdham, said the threat to the market was “appalling”.
He said: “The market is a great way for farmers to trade their wares and there are welfare issues in keeping it local.”
Alex Dinsdale, NFU advisor for Norfolk, said: “We are right behind Norwich Livestock Market and really value it as an important way to help our members’ businesses to trade.”