Stamford residents have reacted with horror after traditional paving setts in the heart of the town were permanently replaced with patches of Tarmac.
A section of Stamford’s historic High Street has been somewhat rudely brought in to the modern era after being resurfaced by contractors.
It is part of a £50,000 repair scheme by Lincolnshire County County which began in November.
But many of Stamford’s 20,000 residents reacted with outrage on Friday after a section of paving setts outside the town’s Marks & Spencer were replaced with Tarmac.
Other resurfacing work was also taking place on a nearby pedestrian crossing.
Lincolnshire County Council claim the work follows numerous cases of people tripping over uneven paving in the areas, as well as in the nearby historic Red Lion Square, and say the paving setts will be used elsewhere in the town.
But angry locals have described replacing the Williamson Cliff brick setts – formerly made in Stamford – as “madness,” like “painting an antique” and a “first step downhill.”
The historic Lincolnshire market town doubled as Meryton in the 2005 film of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightley.
It was also a backdrop for blockbuster The Da Vinci Code and the 2011 film Middlemarch.
But this historic beauty has been ruined by the Tarmac resurfacing, warn some locals.
Stamford resident Malcolm Scholes described the work as like “painting an antique” and a “first step downhill.”
Sales director Fiona Broadbent said: “Stamford gets voted in The Times one of the nicest places to live, but then it gets the High Street tarmacked.”
Another Stamford resident, Kay Bloodworth, asked: “It needed something doing, but Tarmac, wasn’t there an alternative, like relaying the stones properly?”
A similar outcry was made by Stamford residents in March last year when town councillors agreed to consider replacing the Yorkstone in Red Lion Square with Tarmac.
Stamford Civic Society warned stone setts were more appropriate for the surroundings and Lincolnshire County Council claimed no firm plans were yet in place.
But Coun David Brailsford (Con), county councillor for Stamford West, defended the recent Tarmac work.
Coun Brailsford said: “As part of the ongoing pavement works in Stamford town centre, the highways team found two small areas that would need to be tarmacked.
“As well as the stones lifting and becoming unsafe for pedestrians, tests carried out on the ground beneath these areas have shown that the base isn’t suitable.
“The cost of the base works and then resetting the stones, plus the ongoing maintenance and repair of them – and the risk to pedestrians where they lift – means they’re not a viable option for the two areas.
“The pedestrian crossing at Broad Street and Ironmonger Street, and the parking area opposite Marks and Spencer will need to be tarmacked.
“Vehicles moving about in both these areas has compounded the issues and caused further damage to the stones.
“In both areas they’re salvaging the stones for use elsewhere in the town centre.”