Parking wrangle threatens to put the brakes on Norwich livestock market
- Credit: Archant © 2007
The future of Norwich Livestock Market has been thrown into doubt following the implementation of tough new parking restrictions by site owner Graham Dacre.
The Norwich entrepreneur bought the site off Hall Road from the city council four years ago in a multi-million pound deal, leasing it back to the local authority on a 99-year agreement, which in turn sublets it to the market.
Until the end of June Mr Dacre rented out an additional parking area to the market - vital at busy times because of pressure on space - but he has now withdrawn that agreement, having given the required three months notice.
And to stop the risk of farmers parking on the access road instead, he this week put up no parking signs and warned that vehicles parking away from the offical site will face fine notices.
Market director Mike Beckett said: 'At the moment we have about 100 farmers coming to the fortnightly markets from all over Norfolk and north Suffolk. However, from September, when our busy time begins that number will increase to 150 and there won't be sufficient parking.
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'Mr Dacre wants to put us in a position where the market can't trade and without extra parking that could happen.'
He said the market had continued to grow and prices achieved were as good as anywhere in the country - if it closed farmers would face a journey to markets in Colchester, Newark or Melton Mowbray.
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He said: 'The market is also a meeting place for farmers and a social event; that is important as the industry has changed over the last 20 to 30 years into quite a lonely way of life.'
Mr Beckett said the city council had a duty to ensure that the market - run by farmers for farmers as a limited company - had a suitable site under an ancient charter; he said they were lobbying South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon to intervene.
Mr Dacre responded: 'Having owned the premises for four years we are reviewing the day to day operation of the site.
'A number of our tenants have been complaining about fly-tipping and illegal activity on the site and our concern is for the safety of all who use and visit it. More positively, recently we have had inquiries from potential new occupiers and we are exploring the possibility of developing the land opposite B&Q.'
He admitted it was their long-term goal to develop the whole site, including the area currently used as the livestock market.
He said: 'We have no doubt that the council and Norwich Livestock Market would also like to see the future of the market resolved. In the meantime the market will need to operate within its site.'
Mr Dacre said Norwich Traffic Control (NTC) had been formally instructed to provide vehicle control and site monitoring services on a 24 hour/ seven day a week basis. On market days NTC would provide additional on-site service.
Access to the businesses operating to the rear would be maintained at all times. Customers and others visiting any of the businesses were advised to park only in parking bays allocated to each individual unit and business.
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'The council has a 99-year lease on the livestock market site and is happy for the market to continue operating there.
'The company running the market separately leased a site for car parking from a third party. If it has an issue about this it will need to take it up with the owner of that site.'