The much-anticipated Lincoln Imp trail will be coming back in July 2021, after COVID-19 postponed the event last year.

The event returns on Saturday, July 3 and will run until September 8, with thirty imps designed by national and local artists to find.

Thirty IMPs will be displayed throughout the city of Lincoln, and one imp will even be placed in Skegness.

Five of the 1.5m high sculptures will be ‘roaming’ community imps that move among shops in Lincoln, in window displays between Newport Arch and St Mark’s Shopping Centre.

The imps were selected after a design competition where the winners were picked by sponsors.

As well as the 30 chosen for the main trail, the Education Trail Imps will be shown too, decorated by schools across Lincolnshire.

Maps will be available to help you find them all, and a social media campaign will run throughout the trail.

Plan for the 2020 Lincoln Imp trail as submitted to City of Lincoln Council.

A new interactive app will also be available to download for the trail, offering games and activities.

To say farewell to the imps, an event will take place at Lincoln Castle between September 9-23, ahead of the auction on Lincolnshire Day, October 1.

Funds raised will be donated to the event’s charity partner, St Barnabas Hospice.

Sarah Loftus, chief executive at Lincoln BIG, said: “It was disappointing that we had to postpone the trail last year, but this was the same for so many events.

“The trail will launch this summer across the city centre as it will take place outdoors so social distancing can still be respected.

“This does mean everyone will get the chance to see the individually hand-painted sculptures outside when exercising or having some retail therapy and put a smile on people’s faces.

“This project has the ability to unite the city during this really challenging time, it will bring something positive to both residents, workers and businesses this year.”

Some of the draft designs for the Lincoln Imps which were submitted to City of Lincoln Council.

Angry residents have criticised the National Trust after a postcode mix up caused hundreds of motorists to flood into their village during the coronavirus pandemic.

Villagers next to historic Belton House say visitors to a lights trail at the Grade I listed Georgian House drove up their driveways and were even knocking on doors to ask for directions to the entrance.

The traffic chaos was so bad that residents on one lane chose to barricade their street with wheelie bins to prevent further disruption caused by visitors to the country home, near Grantham.

Belton villager Bernard Norton claims the National Trust put the misleading postcode on tickets and its advertising to take visitors away from the Lion Gates on the other side of the estate.

And Mr Norton, who made a complaint to Lincolnshire Police and the local authorities, said this led to hundreds of cars driving into the village from cities further afield such as Lincoln, Nottingham, Peterborough and Leicester, and to his house.

He has demanded that the trust changes the postcode for future events.

The event ran until January 3 and even continued when Lincolnshire was put under tier 4 restrictions – despite some local opposition.

Mr Norton said: “Hundreds of cars have been coming into the village every night. It is not the visitors’ fault but we have had to barricade our entrance to stop people driving through the gate.”

Villager and parish council member Colin Thornton described the situation as “somewhat chaotic”.

He said: “Washdyke Lane is an unadopted single track lane that leads to a dead end and was initially inundated with vehicles trying to turn around in a very small area or on private drives in the dark and in poor weather conditions, risking damage to vehicles and property, to the extent that residents had to block the entrance to the lane with a wheelie bin with a sign stating ‘not Belton House’.”

A spokesperson from the National Trust at Belton House said: “The postcode for the entrance to Belton House and its car park also covers an area of Belton village, and unfortunately a small number of visitors miss the entrance as they drive past.

“Working closely with the local authorities we have taken steps to mitigate this, including installing additional bright lights around our entrance and signage to increase its visibility.

“We have been looking into the possibility of creating a unique satnav code purely for Belton’s entrance, which will eradicate this completely in future.”

The light show has attracted thousands of visitors every night and was able to remain open once Lincolnshire was placed into tier 4.

The trust added: “Before the current national lockdown, in line with government guidelines many of our places remained open across all tiers in England. In tiers 1 and 2, houses, shops and cafés could open.

“In tiers 3 and 4, outdoor spaces and toilets could open, and cafes were takeaway only. In tier four, shops were closed but outdoor light trails were permitted.

“The safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities is always our priority, and we continue to urge people to follow government guidance and restrictions. Belton remains open for the local community to use for exercise during the national lockdown.

“The booking system is still in place to help manage capacity and enable social distancing, and visitors are asked to look at the property website for information before planning a visit.”

Local county councillor Ray Wootten said: “South Kesteven has already seen an increase in reported infections, the highest in any district with 356.7 cases per 100,000 and sadly 10 additional deaths.

“With reports from the Belton and Manthorpe Parish Council and residents, claiming that social distancing was not taking place, then on safety grounds the event should have been closed.”

Tony McGinty, assistant director of public health, said: “With Lincolnshire moving to tier 4 previously, and now subject to the restrictions of the national lockdown, it’s so important that we stay at home as much as possible, and remember the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance.

“Throughout the pandemic, the county council, in partnership with district council colleagues and the police, has worked with businesses across the county to help them operate safely and in line with the latest guidance.

“The vaccine offers us light at the end of the tunnel, but we mustn’t get complacent. There is still real pressure on our hospitals and so we all must do our bit to reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

Boston Stump has cancelled two prayer afternoons in memory of 12-year-old Roberts Buncis, in support of his father’s desire for “all to keep safe”.

The body of Roberts was found in a common area at the rear of Alcorn Green in Fishtoft during the morning of Saturday, December 12. Three teens have been arrested since, two released and one charged with murder.

Police issued a warning over a planned vigil event due to take place this weekend and the boy’s father urged people to “remember Roberts with flowers and a smile” and to “be safe and please do not do anything stupid”.

He will remember his son “in private and celebrate his life at his funeral”.

Boston Stump will respect Edgars’ wishes and support “his desire for all to keep safe and remember Roberts privately at home” by cancelling its two prayer afternoons.

Chief Inspector James Trafford, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “While we understand that the community is grieving the loss of Roberts, we would like to strongly remind people that we are in a pandemic and tier 3 COVID restrictions apply.

“The safest way for those who want to pay their respects to Roberts is to do so in private while following the rules. Under tier three rules we are unable to gather in outdoor settings in groups of more than six.”

Police identified the victim as Roberts Buncis, 12.

Police continue to investigate Roberts’ tragic death and so far three teenage males, aged 13, 14, and 19, have been arrested.

The 14-year-old was charged with murder when he appeared in court on Monday and was remanded to a secure unit in Sleaford, with a provisional trial date set for June 21 next year.

The 19-year-old was released with no further action and the 13-year-old was released under investigation.

Edgars Buncis and his son Roberts. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Over £21,000 has been raised to help cover the funeral costs for the schoolboy, who died two days before his 13th birthday.

A tribute on a fundraiser for Roberts says he comes from a single parent family and was living with his dad Edgars, who the money will help during this difficult time. Flowers and candles have also been left in tribute to Roberts.

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