More than 100 farmers attended a vehicle protest at Builth Wells auction mart, Powys, Wales, on Sunday, June 14, fearing the site will remain closed once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
The market ceased operation when the lockdown came into effect in March, following directors’ concerns about the site’s town centre location.
Irving Parry of Brightwells, which runs the mart, said it was ‘in the interests of public safety and to protect our members of staff… not to operate during the lockdown period’.
But Mr Parry has reportedly ignored Powys County Councillor David Price’s requests to meet and discuss the reopening of the site, and declined to comment further on the situation, sparking mass concern about the future of the site among the farming community.
Coun Price said: “It is disappointing to see the mart remain closed while other similar markets are open as a drop and go market.
“The protest, concluding with the horn blast at 5.30pm, was powerful to witness, and really demonstrated the depth of feeling the farming community has about the market’s future.
“Brightwells has not been forthcoming with information and their lack of communication is really disappointing to see.”
Brightwells was rumoured to be in with discussions with the council about developing and improving the auction mart facility, but Mr Price said the focus should be on ‘retaining the site as it and reopening to facilitate trade’.
“If Brightwells are planning to improve the site, then they have lost a great deal of time to get the work done during the lockdown,” he said.
“The focus must be on retaining the site and reopening to meet the needs of farmers who want to see their livestock sold in their local auction mart, especially with the autumn breeding sales approaching.”
Chairman of the Beulah speckled-face sheep society, Jonathan Davies, said he had been ‘assured’ the premises for the ram sales held at Builth Wells mart would be available ‘as long as all rules and regulations could be met’.
He also indicated the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society was happy for autumn breeding sales to be ‘held on their premises as long as all the rules and regulations are adhered to’.\
The Farmers’ Union of Wales said it would do everything within its lobbying powers to ensure the market reopened.
In the meantime, farmers will continue to use alternative facilities at Rhayader, Brecon and Hereford.