Thursday, 13 September 2012


This October is going to be busy month for Monmouth County Council (MCC) one way or another with two judicial reviews pending in relation to Abergavenny Livestock Market. To be fair one is in relation to the Welsh government for its decision to repeal the Abergavenny Improvement Acts and the second one is in relation to the Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) giving permission to sell the land upon which the livestock market sits. Both will be held at the High court in Cardiff on October 3rd.

Observation of MCC’s behaviour over recent years might suggest that it’s solely to boost the local authorities coffers. It’s a matter of public record that the County Council has long struggled to balance the books, suffering from a combination of historic poor financial settlements and poor decision making, which has driven the Authority to dispose of its assets for short term financial gain and actively pursue a policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. What makes this interesting is that earlier this year a report commissioned by the Abergavenny Civic Society pointed out that re-developing the existing market site would cost approximately half of the council's new site. The report stated that redevelopment would cost about £2.25m, with MCC's plan would cost closer to £5m.

I (and no doubt many other people) have long been puzzled by Conservative dominated MCC’s obsessive desire (let alone their motivation or heaven forbid any incentive), to press for the disposal of the livestock market site (and the livestock Market) and its replacement with yet another supermarket, in Abergavenny. MCC has partially succeeded in its aim by persuading the Labour in Wales administered National Assembly to repeal the original parliamentary legislation (which dated from the 19th century) which gave Abergavenny the legal right to hold a market within the town - as part of one of three Abergavenny Improvement Acts.

This was nominally one step further than previous assembly governments which failed to call in (for review) the planning applications for the livestock market site despite plenty of opportunities to do so if only on grounds of its economic impact and sustainability. The Labour in Wales,administered Welsh Government, went one step further, in allowing people a say on whether or not the Abergavenny Improvement Acts should be repealed.  The acts had ensured the presence of a livestock market in or in close proximity to Abergavenny, hence MCC’s desire to remove them.

The consultation process was a case of being too little too late, it was not good enough, and the scope for the consultation and review was far too narrow being limited to the repeal of the Abergavenny Improvement Acts, rather than why they were being repealed. It’s grimly ironic that one of the main reasons for Abergavenny’s existence is the livestock market which still works despite the fact that it needs modernisation. Local farmers were surveyed by KALM and they expressed a preference for retaining the livestock market where it is because it is the centre of an area where they have access to agricultural traders, dealers and other facilities. Thousands of letters were delivered to the National Assembly (in Cardiff) calling for the retention of the livestock market, to next to no effect.

From where I am sat it is clear that Government (and elected representatives) at almost every level (and from almost every political party) have failed the good people of Abergavenny and for small famers from the surrounding area. MCC has been allowed to act as judge, jury, executioners and main financial beneficiary, from the closure of Abergavenny Livestock market. The silence of locally elected representatives from Monmouth constituency, who happen to be members of the same political party, as those trying to remove the livestock market from the town, has been as eloquent as it has been telling.

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