Cattle trading at Louth Livestock Market faces an uncertain future following the local council’s decision to consult on the site’s sale.
Masons Chartered Surveyors and Willsons Chartered Surveyors, who operate the livestock market in the town as a partnership, Louth Market Auctioneers, have been served formal notice to end their occupancy at the market at the end of the year.
They believe the closure of the market would be a huge blow to farmers in the area. Cattle trading has been a major part of the Lincolnshire town since the 1600s.
Auctioneer David Williams said despite the decision by East Lindsey District Council (ELDC), the mart was still committed to ‘servicing the needs of the farming community’.
“A small livestock market in this strong farming county is an essential service we offer to the rural community,” he said.
“If the council gets its way the closure of our market by Christmas is unimaginable.
“In order to protect us from eviction this coming New Year we have taken legal advice and have now instructed a national law firm to represent us and defend our strong legal position as tenants of the market site."
Auctioneer Paul Robinson added the mart’s financial position was strong.
“Our average trading figures for the last three years are 2,846 cattle sold, 11,821 sheep sold with a turnover of £3.4 million,” he said.
“These are consistent and have not declined over that period.”
There is a legal obligation to provide a livestock market in Louth, which was granted in 1551 by King Edward VI in the first Royal Charter. One of three options mooted by the council is to remove their legal obligation to provide a livestock market, at a cost of £200,000.
Mr Williams called on all farmers, whether livestock or arable, to get behind the mart and show their support.
A public meeting held last night (August 9) was attended by more than 350 people, all keen to see the mart remain open.
The council’s consultation closes on September 6 and people are being encouraged to voice their support.
Portfolio holder for market towns and rural economy at ELDC, Coun Adam Grist, said: “I would like to thank those farmers and residents who attended the public meeting, which was organised by the council to inform the consultation.
"Along with colleagues at the council, I am acutely aware of the views of the farming community in regard to the need for future of livestock market provision and would encourage anyone with an interest to take part in the consultation.”
The council is consulting on three proposals:
To develop a new market on land now owned by the council, which the council has estimated at between £4m and £5m. If the council wishes to pursue this option, the auctioneers believe it could be delivered at a significantly lower cost than the figure quoted by ELDC.
To close the market. To do this the council would seek parliamentary consent for the Royal Charter to be amended at an estimated legal cost of £200,000.
To refurbish the existing facility. However, the cost of £700,000 being quoted by the council is misleading, the auctioneers said, as the only significant work required to the site would be the replacement of the roof sheets on the main building. Essentially the rest of the facility is in a good state of repair.
What can you do?
July 12 Consultation Commenced
August 9 Public meeting held by ELDC at Louth Town Hall
September 6 consultation closes
December 31 ELDC plans to suspend the market