RYEDALE District Council is set to step in and take over the construction of a relocated livestock market in Malton.

At a meeting of the policy and resources committee tomorrow (Thursday), members will vote on whether or not to purchase the land at Edenhouse Road, Old Malton, and spend about £3 million on constructing the new market and associated facilities.

Plans for a new livestock market were first unveiled five years ago after the lease on its current site expired. Extensions were granted and a plan for an agri-business park near Eden Camp was first developed in conjunction with the local enterprise partnership in 2016, and there has since been a food enterprise zone (FEZ) designation.

The Malton and Ryedale Farmers Livestock Market Company Ltd has since been working to secure the funds towards relocating the market.

In a report to members, RDC’s chief planning officer Gary Housden said the market is considered to be “integral to the district’s economy, its cultural heritage and its identity”.

The current livestock market, in the centre of Malton, which is owned by the Fitzwilliam Estate, has planning consent for a supermarket, and the report says it is considered “very likely” that the market will have to vacate the site.

Of a number of options, the report recommends the authority build and own the livestock market and ancillary buildings - with a projected return of about £100,000 a year in rent.

First, however, it recommends spending £150,000 on the development of “a business case, specification and procurement exercise” to ensure value for taxpayers’ money.

Cllr Luke Ives, chairman of the policy and resources committee, said: “The livestock market is an essential part of the local community and provides a sustainable place for the sale and purchase of livestock.

"Not only does this reduce food miles and encourage local food production, but it benefits the welfare of animals by reducing the distances required to transport livestock.

“Without the intervention of the council, there is a serious risk that the market will disappear, which would be a huge blow for farmers and the wider Ryedale economy.

“This proposal provides a bold and a deliverable way to resolve a decades-old problem, while helping to kickstart the development of the wider Eden Camp business park.

“Of course, it is only right the council protects the taxpayer’s purse, so under the plan the council will own the livestock market building and land, while leasing the facilities to achieve a decent rate of return.

“Nevertheless, a full business case is necessary before a final decision is taken to proceed.”

Cllr Ives added the plans are only possible due to the council’s cost-cutting and efficiency measures over the last few years, which have increased its reserves to £12 million.

“Over the past five years we have made sweeping efficiency savings and increased our reserves at a time when most other councils have used their reserves to prop up their day-to-day spending,” he said.

“The money we have saved can now be invested to secure our cultural heritage for generations to come.”

The plans have the support of MP Kevin Hollinrake, who added: “I applaud and support the council’s efforts to help to find a permanent home for the livestock auction market. Clearly, this also has to offer fair deal and value for money for local taxpayers, after all it is their money.”

The Livestock Market Company were approached for comment.