KALM’s legal battle to prevent the closure of Abergavenny Livestock market and its removal from the town has drawn a blank as a High Court judge has rejected claims that Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) has acted unlawfully. MCC aim to replace the one hundred and fifty year old livestock market with a new market near Raglan they have already agreed to sell the old site with planning permission for a supermarket and library. The judicial review heard KALM had many complaints about Monmouthshire council's decision to grant planning permission in June last year to Optimisation Developments Ltd.
The market which covers a 1.9-hectare site is surrounded by the Abergavenny Conservation Area on three sides. KALM arguments included the claims that demolition would seriously affect the local economy and threaten to contaminate the River Usk. All the complaints were rejected by Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, who said the council had take all conservation, environmental and socio-economic issues properly into account when reaching its decision.
MCC deputy leader Bob Greenland made much of the suggestion that the supermarket scheme could potentially bring in over of 200 jobs for local people. Interestingly enough a study by the National Retail Planning Forum (in 1998) of 93 new superstores found that each one resulted in a net loss of 270 local jobs per development. The opening a large supermarket can lead to a loss of jobs as local businesses close. Supermarket domination of the retail trade puts the local food infrastructure at risk threatening the viability of local abattoirs, wholesalers and small farms and the associated jobs.
This effect was spotted by the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England who noted that following the opening of a large supermarket there was a loss of choice as it becomes harder to buy local foods. 64% of the local shops in Fakenham, Norfolk, and 75% of those in Warminster, Wiltshire, closed when new superstores were built in those towns. Most supermarkets sell very little locally sourced produce, with only 1-2% of their turnover coming from local foods, so, when local shops close, the outlet for local produce disappears with them.
As has already been noted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) our local retail traders are in trouble, The UK is losing approximately 2,000 local shops every year and that of this continues then by 2015 there will be no independent retailers left in business, something that effects consumers and communities as they effectively lose any real choice in the marketplace.
I think 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 farmers from the surrounding area. MCC has been allowed to act as judge, jury (not to mention jury sector), executioner and main financial beneficiary, from the closure of Abergavenny Livestock market, which if nothing else should focus minds on the farcical planning process.