October 18, 2022 4.47 pm This story is over 17 months old

Louth parklets drama: They’re gone and won’t return

Council holds meeting with frustrated residents

Controversial parklets have gone from a Lincolnshire town and will not return, it has been confirmed.

Lincolnshire County Council took the parklets away from Louth’s Mercer Row recently following a spate of vandalism, including damage to the features and graffiti along the high street and other areas of town.

They cost £62,000 for four different seating layouts, but only two were used, and there had been an outcry over their position and how they looked, as well as the loss of some parking spaces through the Louth Active Travel Scheme. Four incidents of vandalism have taken place with some reported to police.

At a meeting organised by Louth Town Council at St James’ Church on Monday night, Lincolnshire County Council’s Chris Miller said the parklets were meant to give an idea of how improvements through the Louth Active Travel Scheme could look.

He said questions around the style of the parklets were “all fair comment” and admitted they were “probably the wrong solution to all the right suggestions”.

He said the county wanted to explore opportunities to do things differently, including the widening of footways and lining the area with trees.

“What will happen now is look to take forward the ideas that have come out of our engagements and see if there’s anything we can do that the people of Louth do want us to do.

“We appreciate the seating units turned out to be something you’d not want us to do, and now they’ve gone.”

Seating had to be taken away for investigation following a previous incident of vandalism. | Image: Andrew Leonard

Following the meeting, Mr Miller said in a statement: “We have taken the decision that the parklets will not be returning to Mercer Row. We will now find locations best suited to the seating units that will mean that they will continue to be used in the manner that they are designed for.

“During the meeting with the Town Council and Louth residents, and through a survey by the Town Council, there have been many ideas put forward about what the next phase of the Active Travel Scheme could look like to reflect the future needs of pedestrians and visitors to Louth that the experimental scheme has sought to demonstrate.

“What is worth remembering is that this has always been a fluid, trial scheme the council has reacted and made changes in step with suggestions put to us through the activetravel@lincolnshire.gov.uk route.

“What we have now is a terrific opportunity to take these ideas and others to the Louth Transport Board next week. The ideas already received, and those still coming forward, will be discussed by the LTB as possibilities for what happens next in the market town. 

“Because of this, I would recommend that anyone with ideas about what would be a possible option for the future of sustainable transport solutions for Louth get in touch and let us know what they would like to see.”

He said Transport Boards have been set up around the county to look at how to shape and mould transport, promote more physical activity and tackle speeding issues.

He said further engagement would take place around the Cornmarket, including around hybrid use where more cafe culture was available in the summer and less was used in the winter.

Councillor Andrew Leonard, one of the main opponents to the parklets, said he was delighted by the decision.

“Some form of normality will return to Louth and we won’t have the embarrassment of them sat there now,” he said.

Some graffiti was done overnight. | Photo Jamie Waller

However, he said there still remained a number of unresolved issues around the loss of parking.

He said closing off the Cornmarket had disadvantaged a number of visitors to the town and that there had been better ways of doing it without resulting in a loss of trade to local businesses – including only having the area closed on market days.

Residents who attended the meeting said there were periods where no-one was using the space, while one woman from HSBC bank said trade had fallen off to the point that bosses were beginning to question whether it was worth having the service in the town.

Some did support moving forward with the scheme, saying it would improve the town for future generations, however, others argued that Louth could lose what made it special.

Criticism was also levelled at LCC’s Portfolio Holder for Highways Councillor Richard Davies and other supporters for not attending the meeting, despite it being well publicised.