August 30, 2022 4.28 pm This story is over 15 months old

Supporter turns on Louth Active Travel scheme parklets following outcry

Their “aesthetic quality” is lacking, councillor says

A Louth councillor who supported a scheme to improve cycling and walking in the town has now turned on the new parklets installed in the town’s High Street because of their “aesthetic quality”.

Lincolnshire County Councillor Sarah Parkin released a statement on her Facebook page on Bank Holiday Monday in which she said the authority had “continually failed to deliver a scheme of quality.

“This cannot be allowed to continue, and I cannot express my frustration and anger loudly enough,” she explained.

She asked for the parklets, installed by Lincolnshire County Council last week, to “be removed and stored for future use” to allow further discussion and collaboration between Louth Town, East Lindsey District and Lincolnshire County Councils to take place.

However, she’s not walking away from Active Travel and was still a “firm advocate” for it, adding that it “could have the potential to deal with traffic pollution, promote public health and support local businesses”.

“But as I have said many times in private to LCC officers and politicians, and again now in public, the aesthetic quality of the scheme has to be right.”

Lincolnshire County and East Lindsey District Councillor Sarah Parkin.

The parklets caused a stir when they were installed last year, with hundreds of commenters raising concerns about the safety of the features on a busy high street, as well as the visual impact on the conservation area.

The council however, has said the parklets are there to stay for now as part of the 18-month long trial.

County councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: “We fully accept that the new parklets won’t be liked by everyone at first, but we’ll be keeping them in place for now and will gauge people’s views once they’ve had time to get used to them.

He said they were just one of several measures aimed at reducing congestion, encouraging more walking and cycling and providing new opportunities for local businesses.

“Councillor Parkin has been very involved in all aspects of this trial to date, including helping to choose the parklets we’ve put in, so it’s unfortunate she no longer thinks they are an aesthetic fit for Louth,” he added.

“We will be setting up a local transport board meeting next week that will include Cllr Parkin, Louth’s other county councillors and others from within the community. During our meeting, everyone in attendance will have an opportunity to share their views.

“In the meantime, we will continue engaging with members of the Louth community as our Louth Active Travel trial continues.”

A recent public meeting saw around 250 people vote almost unanimously to halt the Louth Active Travel Scheme – which aims to promote cycling and walking – and restore parking to how it was before changes were made across both Mercer Row and the Cornmarket.

Social media commenters last week referred to them as a “joke” and asked why anyone would “want to recline next to a busy road in the middle of town”.

One of the parklets that were installed. | Image: Jill Makinson-Sanders

Reports over the weekend suggested that some locals were using the seating, though some anti-social behaviour of people using them as cycle ramps was also mentioned.

Some commenters, however, have expressed support for the Cornmarket to remain in cafe culture, particularly during the summer months.

There was some suggestion that if the parklets were placed in the Cornmarket they would have less of an impact.

A petition was even launched by Mike Bristow, of Larders Coffee House.

“Larders Coffee House wish to ensure that the hundreds if not thousands of hospitality customers locally and holidaymakers that have enjoyed this unique to Louth cafe culture are given the opportunity to say yes to keep [it],” he said.

Anyone wanting to share feedback on the Louth Active Travel trial can email [email protected] with their comments.