July 29, 2022 10.35 am

Frustrated councillors call public meeting over Louth Market parking changes

Businesses estimate £1.2m loss in trade in the town centre

Angry councillors “frustrated” by the response to concerns around a new traffic scheme in Louth have called a public meeting for residents and businesses to air their grievances.

East Lindsey District and Louth Town councillors Jill Makinson-Sanders, Andrew Leonard and George Horton said there had been a failure by Lincolnshire County Council to engage with the town over the plans.

The Louth Active Travel Scheme looks to improve pedestrian and cycling access to the town.

The scheme, an 18-month long trial, sees the restriction of traffic along Mercer Row to create a larger pedestrianised area feeding into the Cornmarket.

It began in March following what LCC said was a near year long consultation. However many dispute the level of knowledge and engagement around the plans by those on the ground.

Businesses say the changes are having a detrimental effect on them, particularly as they look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and tackle the cost of living crisis.

The local councillors said more businesses are under threat of closure and have calculated a £1.2m loss of trade in the town centre annually if the plans continue.

In response, they have organised a public meeting at the Royal British Legion on Wednesday, August 10, starting at 7pm, with invites to be sent to Lincolnshire County Council – including executive portfolio holder for highways Councillor Richard Davies.

They said they had been contacted by hundreds of residents with many unable to manage walking from a car park to the bank.

They include Councillor Horton who has a hip injury, which impairs walking and qualifies him for a blue badge.

“The last thing Louth needed was a badly thought out scheme turning parking on its head and disrupting the pattern of local shopping once again,” said a statement.

“Traders all round the town report a drop in business as shoppers are avoiding Louth and going to places like Market Rasen where parking is free and convenient.”

Councillor Leonard said the council had “erroneously” said the scheme was supported, adding that supporters such as the Louth Independent Traders group did not represent “many businesses”

A new petition calling for LCC to withdraw the plans and return to the drawing board has received more than 600 signatures.

Councillors also criticised the aesthetic of the planters during the winter.

Councillor Makinson-Sanders, carried out a recent survey where she reported around a quarter of the planters had dead flowers in.

She said: “The cafe culture is a nice idea in the summer months but needed to be done properly.

“What message does it give out to tourists when they see the scheme’s planters full of dead and dying plants, nettles and other weeds and sandbags.

“It’s not a good advert for Louth, it looks scruffy and unloved. It’s laughable.”

She suggested the Cornmarket should be returned to its former layout, particularly during the colder winter months, questioning how many would cycle in from the surrounding villages during that time.

“The councillors and their officers at Lincoln appear to have failed to grasp what makes a market town work,” she said.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways Councillor Richard Davies said he had not yet received an invite and was surprised to hear about it.

He said he would not be able to attend on the date provided.

However, he said: “we remain open to all forms of comment, suggestions and feedback surrounding the Louth Active Travel Scheme so I am always happy to listen to residents about how they feel this drive toward a sustainable future for one of the jewels of our county is going.

“Once we have the parklets installed, given them time to become established and people have had plenty of chance to use them, we will be holding a meeting of our own to continue our assessment of the scheme and how it should move forward.

“As always, this remains a trial scheme which can be adapted and tuned accordingly in line with the needs of the community.”