Twelve years ago, Malton’s livestock auction market looked in imminent danger of closure.
Its lease was up, there were plans to develop the site. It seemed time was to be called on another of the county’s long-established agricultural institutions.
This week cattle and sheep were being sold in the sale rings and sheep sheds in the town centre mart, as they have for decades. Although time has moved on, the market remains a bustling feature of this market town and is likely to stay that way until progress is made between Ryedale District Council and the Ryedale Farmers’ Livestock Market Company.
But it looks like there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the long-running battle to re-site the market.
The basics are that, following a successful petition to keep the livestock market open, an offer was made to the livestock market company from Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation that should have brought about a move for the market to a site at Eden Camp out of Malton on the Pickering road and Ryedale District Council offered a substantial figure towards the building costs.
A roundabout was eventually built and a sign erected that included notice of the siting of the new livestock market.
Twelve years on and Fitzwilliam Malton Estate, owners of the current market site, now seem in little hurry to see the back of the livestock market – perhaps realising the ‘death of the high street’ has killed off any ambitions in that direction, where they previously appeared to have a supermarket and ‘shopping experience’ businesses in their sight.
Pat Foxton, chairman of the livestock market company, who farms near Scarborough and is also a livestock haulier, has never had any qualms over the move. His team has been planning for it since 2008, he just wants those involved with it to honour their original commitments.
“We are looking at a more modest version of Thirsk livestock market that is practical and workable. The cost is projected at between £2m to £2.5m.
“We have pledges from the farming community, there is a proposed share issue. We should also have the monies that were agreed originally by Ryedale District Council, the deeds to the ‘fully serviced five-acre site’ that Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation agreed to in response to our assistance over a planning application made by them to build 250 houses on the showfield and a business park at Eden Camp.
“ We have our planning permission, but the nub of it all is nobody seems as though they want to funnel the funds to make it happen.”
It is a muddle that newly elected independent councillor Simon Thackray has been trying to make some sense of since being elected in May last year.
“I can’t speak for the council, but I can speak as a councillor,” says Simon, who comes from a farming and agricultural buildings and engineering background.
“I’ve seen the reports prepared by the council that include the intention that the council invest taxpayers’ money to facilitate the relocation of Malton Livestock Market. It was planned by the owners of the existing livestock market site for a supermarket and some kind of shopping experience but the world has changed dramatically since 2008.
“I’m a member of the policy and resources committee and very recently, out of the blue, there was a motion to abdicate from any other financial involvement with the livestock market. The motion to ditch the livestock market was proposed by the leader of the council, Keane Duncan, when taken to the full council, as it had to be in order to be ratified, but was defeated.
“There is now a majority on Ryedale District Council across the parties in favour of ‘doing more work’ and ‘looking at this problem’. It is back on the hob.”
Simon is suspicious of the intent behind the delays and mystified as to why the livestock market and farming community has been treated, he believes, so shabbily.
“The more I have got involved in this debacle and what I think is an underhand operation to pull the plug from the farming community, the more I feel aggrieved that they have been basically ‘shafted’.
“I would now like to see the council facilitate the relocation of Malton livestock market and I would support the release of the £500,000 that is there in the S106 fund, which originally had £1m.
“My understanding is that leaders of different groups on the council are seeking paperwork to have a thorough reinvestigation of the situation.
“My personal view, which I bring to council, is that I would like to see us as a council supporting farming, farmers and the auctioneers in helping facilitate the development of the site at Eden Camp. It is out-moded to have what is an industrial business in the middle of a small market town.”