Market chief: ‘Sainsbury’s is only option’

Plans for the cattle market
Plans for the cattle market

A CATTLE market chief has hit back at critics opposing a new Sainsbury’s store in Thame insisting it is the only economically viable option and that it will benefit the local community.

A CATTLE market chief has hit back at critics opposing a new Sainsbury’s store in Thame insisting it is the only economically viable option and that it will benefit the local community.

Bob Williams, one of the directors of the farmers cooperative responsible for the site, says the proposed development is the ‘only way to save the cattle market and also guarantee the continuation of the Thame Show’.

If the sale goes through, the money will be used to finance moving the cattle market to new facilities next to the showground.

Mr Williams, who is also a director of the Thame Show, said: “We need to generate £4million to move to the show ground. The new facilities will then provide electricity, services and free offices for the show.

“Thame Show doesn’t make thatmuch money. All it needs is to have bad weather one year and it may well go under.”

He believes the move will save the show between £15,000 to £20,000 a year.

The farmer said moving was the only hope for the future of the cattle market and that it was important to keep it and the Thame show close together to maintain the ‘agricultural roots’ of the popular show.

The site is owned by South Oxford District Council and Mr Williams said their lease runs out in ‘10 or so years time’.

“When that lease comes up for renewal we probably won’t be able to cover it. The longer we leave it the less value it has.”

He said Sainsbury’s had been interested for a while and were the only viable option.

“A theatre or a facility for the community would not be viable.

“There is no way an economic case could be made. A business plan hasn’t been drawn up and wouldn’t work.

“The benefit to the community comes from the continuation of the cattle market and the strengthening of the Thame Show.

Both of these provide many benefits to Thame. This side of the discussion has not been raised.”

Mr Williams said a commercial option like a supermarket was the only possibility which would raise the necessary funds and that people should be aware that this is the case.

“If we can’t raise the £4million we will not move and when the lease runs out we will cease to exist.”

He said he enjoyed living in the town and that Sainsbury’s would not be of detriment the local community.

“Sainsbury’s have always seen Thame as a very ‘Sainsbury’s town’ and have a record of being good for the local community.

“Our initial application for planning consent was turned down by the council but we successfully appealed it with the planning inspector.

“He said the advantages to the show and the cattle market would outweigh any disadvantages to the town.

“If we don’t move there is a chance the cattle market and the show will fail. We are living in an economic climate in a time of recession.”