LETTERS: Market is bad news for animal welfare
Below is a copy of my letter, published in the Gazette & Herald, pointing out and correcting the errors made by the Ryedale District Council’s Head of Planning, Mr. Gary Housden, in his officer’s report to members on the subject of Malton Livestock Market.
Letter from Simon Thackray:
‘The claims made by Gary Housden, in his recommendation to members of Ryedale District Council, that the retention of a livestock market in Ryedale “helps to reduce the distance that livestock is transported” and is “helping to reduce food miles”, and, more incredibly, that it is “beneficial in terms of enhanced animal welfare matters”, are wholly incorrect. In fact, the opposite is true.
In 2018, much of Ryedale’s livestock is sold direct to the ABP abattoir in York. By “cutting-out the middle-man”, and selling direct to the abattoir, not only do Ryedale farmers avoid paying commission to the Malton livestock auctioneers but, more importantly, this trend reduces unnecessary handling and transportation of livestock, which is of real benefit to animal welfare.
By contrast, livestock that is sold at auction in Malton, is reloaded onto trucks and taken to York, or County Durham, or West Yorkshire, to be slaughtered, therefore doing nothing to reduce the distance that livestock is transported, or reduce so-called ‘food miles’. The origin and destination of livestock sold in Malton is recorded in the market reports, and, although I am not a vegetarian, the logistics are unpalatable. Below is an extract from the publicly available Malton livestock market report, 1st May 2018:
“The top price per kilo of 263.5ppk was for three heifers this week. The first was a 22 month old Lim x from JR Gardiner Ltd of Carnaby weighing 525kgs and selling to Worsley Wholesale Butchers of Leeds and the other two were lim x from J & R Waind weighing 550 and 575kgs and selling to JA Jewitt Ltd of Spennymoor and Worsley Wholesale Butchers.”
Contrary to the claims made by Mr. Housden, the selling of livestock in Malton directly contributes to an increase in ‘food miles’, and increases the number of times that livestock is handled, and transported, before reaching its final destination to be killed.
In short, Malton livestock market, due to the absence of an onsite abattoir, is bad news for animal welfare, and Ryedale District Council members should not invest a single penny of our money in this dying practice.’
Danger to Life:
On a related issue, in which I highlighted the risk to human life (not the unnecessary suffering of animals), I wrote to the Chairman of Ryedale District Council, Cllr. Michael Cleary (who was recently re-elected as Chairman of Council in May 2019), pointing out to him the inadequacy, and inability, of the road network in and around Malton to accommodate the safe movement of HGV vehicles to a new livestock market at Eden Camp. A new livestock market would, if it ever goes ahead, cause the re-routing of even more HGV vehicles from the B1257 (Hovingham to Malton road), via Pasture Lane and Highfield Road (and/or via Butcher Corner), to Old Malton. Councillor Cleary confirmed that the new livestock market WOULD cause the re-routing of HGV vehicles along Highfield Road!
Ryedale District Council knows that this would increase the risk of harm to pedestrians (especially small children) as HGV vehicles pass two schools along unsuitable narrow roads.
Here is the public question (and supplementary question) that I asked on 6 September 2018, and the answers given by the Council Chairman. I have omitted my preamble for the sake of brevity.
Question to RDC for 6 September 2018 from Simon Thackray:
“HGV livestock traffic currently entering Malton from the B1257 Broughton Road, in order to access Malton livestock market on Horsemarket Road, travels along Mount Crescent, Middlecave Road and Victoria Road.
Assuming that the same HGV livestock traffic, that currently enters Malton from the B1257 Broughton Road, re-routes along Newbiggin and Wheelgate to Butcher Corner, in order to travel through Old Malton to the new livestock market at Eden Camp, how will the council prevent further increases in the concentration of NO2 in the Malton AQMA, and on Wheelgate in particular?”
Supplementary question from Simon Thackray – 6 September 2018:
“A new Malton livestock market on land adjoining Eden Camp could result in the re-routing of HGV livestock transport vehicles from the B1257 Broughton Road, onto Pasture Lane and Highfield Road, passing a junior school and a primary school.
In light of the concerns of members about the “disastrous knock-on effects” and negative impact of the Norton level crossing HGV restriction, what additional measures will the council put in place, to restrict and/or prevent, the re-routing of HGV livestock vehicles along unsuitable roads and through highly sensitive town centre locations?”
Ryedale District Council – written answer:
“At present, livestock market traffic from the majority of the approaches to Malton access the existing Livestock Market site through the town centre and Air Quality Management Area.NOTE THE CHAIRMAN’S WORDS: “In addition Livestock Market Traffic from the B1257 would have a choice of accessing Eden Camp via Highfield Road and could avoid Wheelgate and Butcher Corner”.
The relocation of the market to Eden Camp would result in a redistribution of livestock market traffic across the local highway network. The location of the new facility would mean that users of the market which travel from the east, north and south would be able to access the facility without the need to drive through the central network and the Air Quality Management Area. In addition Livestock Market traffic from the B1257 would have a choice of accessing Eden Camp via Highfield Road and could avoid Wheelgate and Butcher Corner.
It is not unreasonable to assume that the location of the new facility would remove a significant proportion of the existing livestock market traffic in the Air Quality Management Area.
The Council will continue to monitor air quality within the Air Quality Management Area and will work with partners to continue to implement the air quality action plan in order to improve air quality.”
HGVs at Butcher Corner:
Due to the weight restriction on HGV vehicles traveling over Norton level crossing, HGV vehicles routinely turn left from Wheelgate, Malton towards Old Malton at Butcher Corner. By so doing, many vehicles are forced to ‘screw’ their near-side rear wheels over the curb and pavement. I have personally witnessed mothers grabbing and dragging their small children away from the wheels of HGV vehicles as they drive over the curb and pavement whilst making a left turn.
This is a serious issue, and one that is directly caused by the NYCC 7.5 tonne HGV restriction over Norton level crossing (which has been introduced, on an 18 month experimental basis, to reduce Malton’s air pollution, and to ensure that good air quality is retained, as required by law). However, the HGV restriction causes the re-routing of HGV vehicles (which , needs-must, find an alternative route to their destination), onto unsuitable local roads i.e. Pasture Lane and Highfield Road (past two junior schools), and, periodically, over the curb and pavement at Butcher Corner.
Neither NYCC nor RDC need feign ignorance of this current and dangerous scenario; both councils were fully aware of the negative implications of the Brambling Fields junction upgrade scheme at the start. Both councils knew, that in order for the £6 million pounds junction to deliver the ‘required benefits’ of the scheme (i.e. improvement in Malton air quality), HGVs would have to be removed from the town centre roads. However, NYCC and RDC officers also identified, in 2011/2012, that there would be ‘issues’ caused by HGVs re-routing onto unsuitable roads. There is no escaping this prior knowledge, or squirming away from the evidence.
The increased danger to pedestrian safety and risk to life has been caused by the re-routing of HGVs, which is an integral part of the Brambling Fields scheme. The matter was highlighted by Julian Rudd, Ryedale District Council’s Head of Housing and Economic Development, in 2012.
On 16 January 2012, Julian Rudd, former Head of Housing and Economic Development of RDC, said: “The improvements in Brambling Fields doesn’t sort out the access issues at Musley Bank or Broughton Road.”
“If HDVs [HGVs] are directed from the town centre there may need to be a restriction on HDVs [HGVs] on Highfield Road/Pasture Lane.”
The matter was raised again, in 2016, by Ryedale District Council’s Environmental Health officer, Steven Richmond, and both notes of concern are recorded in the minutes of meetings of the Ryedale District Council Air Quality Steering Group. The minutes of the meeting held on 11 August 2016 state the following: “Concern was raised in relation to re-routing of traffic and its impacts.”
The HGV restriction over Norton level crossing is ranked, by Ryedale District Council, as the most important ‘action’ of its Air Quality Action Plan 2012 – AP2a (or A2a), after the Brambling Fields junction upgrade itself, which occupies top spot. However, both NYCC and RDC have done nothing to prevent or alleviate the danger to pedestrians caused by the re-routing of HGVs along Highfield Road, Malton.
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