I would immediately say that I am grateful for Roddy Bushell agreeing to commit his thoughts to be published in this column last week and it presents a sound, if one-sided, argument on behalf of the Estate which is quite proper as its resident agent.

I do, however, just question how far the development is in Malton’s interest and even more so as to its effect on the future of the livestock market.

My reaction to his comments are set out below:

* In 1958, James Barker was the Fitzwilliam agent. He not only had some degree of autonomy in his management role but he also had great vision as to how landed estates could be run for the benefit of both owners and the community.

Brian Wilkinson then headed up the agricultural division at Boulton and Cooper and together they negotiated a 50-year lease at what was then deemed to be a fair rent but which has since been overtaken by inflation.

Their agreement to sign up a 50-year lease has been of undoubted benefit to both the town and the country. To a greater or lesser degree trade has flowed into Malton and brought the farming fraternity with it.

We also need to understand that in those halcyon days it was quite common to have long leases granted for commercial property and there are several examples still surviving in the town which have given continuity and stability to local businesses.

I think we should dispel once and for all the myth that cattle markets are hugely profitable. If there was so much money to be made, why have so many vanished from the rural landscape? Markets such as Driffield, Seamer, Hull, Beverley, Boroughbridge, Knaresborough, Pannal, Wetherby, Easingwold, Ripon and Stokesley have all died and not been replaced.

Brian Wilkinson and James Barker created a formula that allowed Malton to survive.

* I need to repeat that where any new market has been built in the country in recent years, the funds have largely come from the sale of the old sites for redevelopment. So what is different about Malton?

The Fitzwilliam Estate intends financing the development of the old cattle market site themselves to the tune of multi-million pounds, but the alternative route chosen by other site owners has been to sell the freehold to a selected developer, thus realising the windfall capital flowing from the planning consent.

I don’t think it is altogether fair of Roddy to claim there are no surplus funds available when the Estate has opted to stand in the place of the developer.

* I would also question the wisdom of not selling the freehold of the old market site which would introduce fresh blood into our property owners in the town centre of which there are precious, few bearing in mind that the Estate already owns 90-95 per cent.

For this reason, I doubt the wisdom of the Estate retaining its feudal hold on Malton and as a consequence wonder if it is in the town’s long-term interest.

* Finally, on a positive note, Roddy has hinted that the planning process itself could require the Estate to contribute to the new market as one of the “knock offs” to be paid as a condition of being granted permission. This is a useful suggestion but as he points out the council are responsible for putting conditions on planning consents and we would be in their hands.

* Roddy has, however, suggested that other large development sites within our town should be charged with providing some finance for relocating the market and while the idea sounds attractive, I think it would be unenforceable in legal terms.

As far as I know a Section 106 Agreement on any development site needs to demonstrate some tangible connection with that site. Relocating the cattle market has very little to do with a residential housing estate on Broughton Road but should be a prime objective of the Estate if they wish to develop the old market site.

I believe the practical relocation and funding of a new livestock market are essential for the next generation of Ryedale farmers and that we should fight to make sure some funds come out of the redevelopment of the old site.

Please let me have your views, hopefully looking forward not backward. They can be sent to me at the Boulton and Cooper office St Michael’s House, Malton.

MP backs farmers

OUR own MP Anne McIntosh chairs the parliamentary committee on environment, food and rural affairs and in their report last week, there was strong criticism of the way Defra is handling the CAP debate for reform in Europe. Defra, led by Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, is failing to represent the interest and diversity of UK agriculture.

There is no doubt that most farmers’ accounts would look sick, if not in deficit, should the single farm payment be taken away; and Mrs Spelman provoked criticism from the agricultural community when she announced in January that her ambition was to phase out direct payments.

Anne McIntosh and her committee quite rightly perceive that ending direct subsidies is unachievable in the short-term and that Defra must constructively engage with the rest of Europe in getting a sensible balance in the CAP reforms.

Anne McIntosh knows that this country will need its farmers to produce food and must be encouraged to do so through a system of incentives and not additional regulation.

Market report

Annual show and sale charolais lambs judged by Chris Hodgson, Rillington, for an excellent show of 300 spring lambs. First prize – Wilson and Kellett Ryton sold for £115 to C Hodgson, Rillington. Second prize sold for £117.50 to B W Glaves & Sons, Brompton. Third prize – J E Clifford & Sons sold for £97 to Agars Butchers, Ilkley. Forward 103 cattle including 22 bulls and 31 cows and OTMs 2,471 sheep including 300 lambs and 356 ewes heavy steers to 194p, JR Mennell, Heslerton, ave 174.3p; heavy heifers to 210p, GR Marwood, Harome, ave 179.2p; steers to 171p, TA Foster Harton, heifers, to 168p, AL Bosomworth, Thornton-le-Dale, ave 152.7p; stock bulls to 126p, Knapton Wold Farms, cows to 148p, RH Mason, Wold Newton, ave 116.8p; standard lambs to 262p, Witherstone Farms, Pockley, ave 248.9p; medium lambs to 287p, Wilson & Kellett, Ryton, ave 255.5p; heavy lambs to 251p, A Hall, Wilton, ave 263.7p; overweight lambs to 213p, GL Riby, Fraisthorpe, standard hoggs to 255p (£108) MD Medd & Son, Sawdon, ave 221.6p; medium hoggs to 241p (£105.50) Burdass Lamb Ltd, ave 226.2p; heavy hoggs to 223p (£09.50) WI Armitage, Hovingham, ave 215.4p; overweight hoggs to 221p (£125.50) CF Beal, Yedingham, ave 206.2p; ewes to £130, CG Harper, Newton, ave £80.40.