A report on the future of Abergavenny livestock market, commissioned by Abergavenny Civic Society, suggests that it would be cheaper to redevelop the existing site than build a new livestock market elsewhere. The report says redevelopment of the existing site would cost about £2.25m, but the council's plan would cost closer to £5m.
Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) has agreed to sell the site, and plans a new market 10 miles (16km) away near Raglan. Back in January, the Labour Welsh government rubber stamped MCC’s request to repeal 150-year-old laws requiring it to provide a market in the town centre. MCC which owns the land, backs plans for the replacement and claims the development of the current town centre market site would help regenerate the town.
Conservative run MCC’s desire to dispose of the livestock market site in Abergavenny (and other assets across the county of Monmouth) to boost the local authorities coffers had come up against the original parliamentary legislation (dating for the 19th century) which give Abergavenny the legal right to hold a market within the town. MCC has long struggled to balance the books for many years having suffered from poor financial settlements over the years, is seeking to dispose of its assets for short term financial gain.
Our planning laws are certainly in need of a serious review, especially when one of the key beneficiaries (Conservative run MCC) ran the whole planning process. MCC was literally the judge, jury, jury selector, executioner and main financial beneficiary. The silence and virtual invisibility of locally elected National Assembly and Westminster representatives (who also coincidentally happen to be Conservatives) on what has been for a number of years a key local issue is worth noting.
The opposition of the loss of the livestock market has never been about nimbyism, people in and around Abergavenny have never been opposed to balanced well thought out development, merely the lack of it. The potentially profound implications of the redevelopment of Abergavenny and the livestock market is one of those cases where there was (and still is) a pressing need for the proposed development to be called in by the Welsh Government and its Ministers.
Yet they have consistently failed to step up to the mark on behalf of the people of Abergavenny. This failure may come down to a combination of poor advice from civil servants to ministers, and an indifference on the part of elected representatives of Labour in Wales towards any other parts of the country that fall outside what they perceive to be their territory.
The new report commissioned by the Abergavenny Civic Society, suggests that re-developing the existing market would cost approximately half of the council's new site. The report states that “improving the market facilities will enable greater agricultural trade which will lead to the introduction of new jobs within the market for local people.” The report also suggests that “increasing parking capacity on non market days will increase the attraction of Abergavenny as a shopping destination which in turn will create jobs in the small retail outlets within the town.”
The report also notes that allowing a new supermarket to develop the site would be "damaging to the community", and that "There are other sites available in the town that could provide for a supermarket without the need to decrease the heritage of the town." Even at this late stage it is not too late for MCC to think again and to take a longer more sustainable view.