Cowbridge protest over plans to close cattle market
A demonstration has been held over the planned closure of a livestock market at Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan.
About 1,000 protesters took part after protesters claimed selling the 200-year-old Cowbridge cattle market site for housing would be "devastating".
They say it will be bad for businesses and would force farmers to make a 90 mile round-trip to Abergavenny market.
The Vale of Glamorgan council, which owns the site, said it is consulting on plans to build houses there.
The council said it would then allocate land at nearby St Mary Hill for a new, replacement cattle market.
Farmers, local businesses and residents joined the protest, which starts at the town hall on Friday afternoon before moving to the cattle market.
The market has been in Cowbridge for over 200 years, with farmers selling their livestock there every Tuesday.
But during the rest of the week its operators, who lease the site from the council, open up the site for the public to use its car parking spaces.
Cowbridge Chamber of Trade said that businesses are worried that the loss of these spaces will mean visitors to the town will struggle to park - and they will go elsewhere.
"The market is a huge part of what Cowbridge is about - it's a market town," said chamber of trade chair Alun John.
"And it does bring in a certain amount of trade on Tuesdays, which is a quiet day.
"But the big issue for us is the loss of the 200 car parking spaces. Lack of car parking is already a big problem in the town.
"We've already got restaurants saying they have had people cancelling, saying they can't park. That's not unusual."
Mr John added: "The council has outlined another site but there seems to be no will from the council to invest any of the money they will get from the sale of the current site."
He said he hoped the demonstration would force the council to re-think the plans.
Dave Harris, local NFU Cymru group secretary, said: "Our members are up in arms about the proposal to sell off Cowbridge cattle market," he said.
"This market has been here for about 200 years and if it goes farmers and animals will have to travel a 90 mile round-trip to the nearest market in Abergavenny.
"Once it's gone it will be gone forever."
The Vale council said it had been "progressing work" on the local development plan for the county, which seeks to plan the way land is used for the next 15 years.
It said that along with new housing, it planned to create " a scheme to provide for public car parking".
"The responses to the consultation on the local development plan will be carefully considered," a spokesperson said.
"The leader of the council held a meeting late last year with farming representatives and other interested parties on the future of a cattle market in the Vale of Glamorgan.
"Feedback is still awaited from those representatives that attended the meeting.
"The leader is a strong supporter of the farming community and is committed into appropriate and meaningful discussion with interested parties on the future of the site."