Louth Active Travel Scheme Meeting 17th October 2022 at St James’ Church, Louth
Transcript of Meeting
This transcript is only for guidance – words could have been misinterpreted from the recording as the recording in the church was very distorted (due to echo) and noisy and therefore it was difficult to hear everything said. (inaudible) indicates words that we were not able to hear concisely.
Please note unless a Councillor, all names which could identify a person have been excluded from the transcript. (marked with xx)
The text in italics was a summary written as notes on the night.
Chair: JS – Deputy Mayor of Louth Town Council Cllr. Julia Simmons
Assisting the Chair: DH – Cllr Darren Hobson
Speaker: CM – Chris Miller
Deputy Mayor of Louth Town Council (JS) Cllr. Julia Simmons
JS -Good evening ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming along to this public meeting. My name is Cllr Julia Simmons, I am the Deputy Mayor and I shall be chairing the meeting this evening. Basically you know why we are here, to discuss the Active Travel Scheme and we want to gauge the public regarding this. I want to invite…. we have a gentleman here, Mr Chris Miller who is the (stumbles over title ) Head of Environment at Lincolnshire County Council (apologises for mistake) and I would like to invite him to speak to you and just explain about the Active Travel Scheme as there were many elements of it, and some people are confused by it and I would like him to clear that. What we are going to do then is to open up this the floor to those people who have got a ticket (to ask a question) and then we will ask those in rotation. If there is any time at the end of the meeting, and you haven’t got a ticket, we will open up the floor to those wanting to ask a question, we may have a comfort break if there is time available. I would just like to run through some of the house rules with you: You have a piece of paper that was given to you on arrival and just to re-iterate and re-enforce the house rules, we would respectively ask that mobiles are turned off or in silent mode and please that you do not interrupt other people as they are speaking. We would like also if you could respect other people’s views, we realise that there is a strength of feeling and we know there is a lot of people that want to speak and so we will try to be fair and democratic by giving opportunity so please keep your comment succinct, keep them to the topic in hand and try not to repeat viewpoints that have already been expressed. I ask you also not to talk amongst yourselves while other people are talking and to remind you if anyone does disrupt the meeting they will be politely asked to leave. So we want to conduct this is an adult way, a measured way and want to find out what your views are and take them back and see where we move forward. So without further ado, I would like to invite Mr Chris Miller up to the lectern to explain about the Active Travel Scheme, thank you Chris.
Mr Chris Miller (CM) Head of Environment at Lincolnshire County Council
Thank you Councillor, good evening, I hope everyone can hear me, hand up at the back if you can (not all people can hear clearly so Mr Miller – issues with microphone) .Well I will try my best and try and project best I can, I am not known for being quiet so hopefully you will bear with me if there is anything you can’t hear and we can pick up, and raise your hand and I am sure during the questions we can pick it up at that point and it won’t be a problem. To introduce myself, I am Chris Miller, Head of Environment at Lincolnshire County Council, I picked up on this project probably part way through, so apologies if there are any gaps in my knowledge of what might have happened sometime in the past to where we have got to now. I will try and run through as much as I can about what I know and then ultimately wanting to take back the feedback really… that is what we are here for. We can try and provide a more positive outlook for what can be achieved in Louth and there are things we need to learn from, that is undeniable (sorry I will shout a bit louder), it is undeniable and there are lessons to be learned, but I think it would help if we could run through where we got to, at the outset.
Active Travel pretty much came about during the pandemic, we all remember that one of the first things Boris said we can do was go out for walks and so on, and that really started the agenda running really on Active Travel and mobility, and how that might change our society a little bit, how that might change market towns and develop them in different ways that they hadn’t been going down. We all know about the economic downturn and the question is whether or not we can do things differently to try and try and provide a different outlook. So out of that the government gave us a portion of money for Active Travel as a scheme nationwide and it was allocated to local authorities to spend on specifically that, so though there have been a lot of questions as to why we didn’t spend it on mending the potholes, why didn’t you reduce this, change that, increase that, the fact was that the money was only available for temporary, nothing permanent, schemes that allowed a debate to generate that what may be looked at as a future, longer term potential for an area such is as Louth is one of them. In that work we are quiet restricted as well, as to what we can do under (issues with microphone). I will go and stand in the middle.
So I will go back a little bit… (issues with microphone). Good. Apologies, just going back to where I was when I was up at the lectern. The Active Travel fund from the government was ring fenced for temporary options for looking at what might become fundamental change, we couldn’t be, spend money on anything that was permanent change, it had to be spent on something related to active travel again (inaudible) pedestrianism, walking cycling generally, something along those lines. As I say, it was ring fenced, couldn’t spend it on anything we’d like to (inaudible), it just wasn’t for that, so we were guided down a particular route. It was a very short bidding process that we had to go into, everything was, got a little bit of a rush, it had to be said.
The political issues at the County Council (inaudible)…and we were looking at other opportunities and options and Louth was put forward as a potential, a market town, we all know the economic downturn was getting more difficult (inaudible), might change the way Louth operates that might be beneficial (inaudible) that’s how you started off. So the initial hurdles were the include removal of parking on Mercer Row to provide a wider footway, the protection of cycle ways on Eastgate, the creation of a north/south side of the pedestrian ring by closing Burnt Hill Lane and Aswell Street and (inaudible) in Cornmarket (inaudible) that was taken forward to the engagement exercise which ran between March 2021 and May 21. You’ll recognise that the big (inaudible) of how we operate, it takes (inaudible) as a local authority. We know that the engagement wasn’t good practice and that needs to be improved as we go forward (inaudible), maybe looking at other things in Louth.
The (inaudible) was exclusively online which isn’t necessarily the best way of engaging with everybody’s opinion, not everybody is going to want to engage with that media. So, the exercise was online, the first was a general attitude survey providing baseline data on (inaudible) active travel and whether or not the residents wished to walk out and what obstacles they faced, and this wasn’t just in Louth. In Louth 61% of residents wish to walk (inaudible) on transport, 52% wished to cycle, 47% (inaudible) which is very important.. could be encouraged cycling or walking or the next number of 17% (inaudible) which was very important. The second part consisted of (inaudible). We had 51% said they strongly supported it, 19% strongly unsupported, 13% supported, 8% unsupported. So from that, and looking at that data and that data alone. (inaudible) engagement, you are coming up with a large portion of people being on the supportive side of the scheme, that is based on the engagement exercise. Obviously we wouldn’t be now if that was the overall opinion going on from that, but that is where we were. We allowed a free text box and so we got some comments back, and what came out of that was the stronger feeling of the unsuitability of the Aswell Street and Burnt Hill Lane options for closure and the cycle lane issue. (inaudible)so we need to take forward, and as you know, we (inaudible) Mercer Row and Cornmarket. As I said earlier, the principal of this is experimental, it is about gauging the appetite and the palatability of more fundamental and permanent changes. What (inaudible) is experimental traffic regulation order (inaudible) for use example, a one way street, reducing (inaudible) these are experimental for a period of 18 months to allow for the gauging or opinion or the opportunity for the palatability of change. So to the big one you want to talk about, seat units. I am not going to call them parklets and that (inaudible) was the name that stuck sadly, but they are actually seating, parklets was their trade name. The idea is that there were meant to be four to give a different example of what could be done (inaudible) in terms of the potential for wider pedestrian areas. Now I am guessing that a lot of questions will be, why that colour in a conservation area in a Georgian town, a complete lack of (inaudible) and I think they are all fair points. (inaudible) they are possibly, you would say probably the wrong solution to the wrong questions. Is there an opportunity for doing things differently on Mercer Row, can we make the footways wide enough, can there be more permanent seating with (inaudible) with (inaudible) planters with trees (inaudible) a line down there widen the footpath narrow the carriageway, reduce the speed to 20mph… all those kind of options are there and the idea was to try and gauge what the appetite was. And these engagements that we are doing now (inaudible) that is part of the (inaudible) process and so I am happy, but I know people (inaudible), but ultimately if we don’t (inaudible) and find out what the strength of feeling is we can’t ?? to take these forward.
Now that is one of the things that politicians will be looking at quite closely, is that feedback, at the end of the day you are their voters, they are responsible for what you want. And so Cllr Davies, couldn’t be here tonight, has set up a Travel Board, all the other large towns in Lincolnshire, (inaudible), Sleaford, Skegness, (inaudible) they all have a transport board made up of elective representatives from the town council or city council (inaudible) with prominent stake holders to try and shape and mould the general transport overview. (inaudible) not only active travel but also other (inaudible), but other traffic regulation, speed (inaudible), not just the active travel or cycling but some wider conversation.
So what will happen now is we will look to take forward the ideas that have come out of (inaudible) like this and what we have learned from what we have already done here and just see if we can do, what the people of Louth do want us to do. We appreciate that it might turn out that there is not something you want to see, and now they are gone. It is all part of the experiment. And similar the Cornmarket, there are certain (inaudible) with non directives that people want to know what has happened to it (inaudible). We have to gauge that feeling and see where we take it; do we go back to what we had, do we have highbred where summer is more seating arrangements and winter you have (inaudible) and (inaudible), so we want to know what is on the table. We want to make sure that (inaudible). So (inaudible) about 20 minutes before I came to see you, that Louth Town Council have been running a (inaudible) on the Active Travel Scheme and that has provided quite a range of potential ideas and they are the sort of things that will be taken to the transport board to discuss. (inaudible) looked at in terms of feasibility, looked at in (inaudible) is this something which is genuinely going to work, test back and engage on that and is this where we are at in terms of what people want. That’s where we have been, that’s where we are in terms of going forward. If you don’t mind I am going to wend my way out to the front and I will quite happily take questions.
From the notes taken on the night: Chris Miller – Head of Environment at LCC, admitted he had come into the scheme half way through. He gave the background to the Louth Active Travel Scheme. It had been an idea hatched by Boris Johnson to get people out again after the Pandemic. He said the scheme was being used to generate data for longer term potential. The government monies for the scheme had been ring fenced so spending had been guided down a particular route. The political leadership thought there were opportunities for Lincolnshire so had applied for funds. It had been thought that in Louth there was potential to use the money beneficially. He gave a run down of the results of the consultation. As a result of the consultation it was agreed the proposal to close Burnt Hill Lane and Aswell Street should be shelved. It was agreed that Mercer Row and the Cornmarket should be subject to an 18 mounts experimental order to assess the opportunities presented. He said four parklets had been purchased for Mercer Row to promote a more pedestrian area. He admitted this had been the wrong solution and that the comments about the colour etc were fair. He said the council had looked at the opportunities presented in Mercer Row such as more permanent planters and a tree lined avenue with wider pavements plus a 20 mph speed limit and the council was trying to gauge the appetite for this. The politicians were looking for feedback but now this had been passed to the Transport Board for Louth. He added that the results of the town council’s questionnaire would go to this Board. Basically the exercise had been to see what the council could do and what Louth wanted. It would seem an hybrid solution might be the way forward, particularly for the Cornmarket.
JS – Thank you Chris, as you know we have the ticket system so our Cllr Sue Crew will be coming amongst you with a roving microphone, if you are able to stand, please do so, if you aren’t then put your hand up so that Sue can see you. We will take them in order, and as I say, if you can keep them succinct then Chris will answer your questions. We will go ahead with number one please Sue.
Q1 – I’d like to ask, first of all, the number of people as a percentage, what was the number of people that actually (took part in the LCC consultation)?
CM – I am afraid I don’t have that information I only have percentages, no tell a lie, 514.
Q1 – what’s the population of Louth?
CM –I couldn’t tell you that…
JS – 17,000.
Q1 – So I wouldn’t say that is representative of the people of Louth would you?
CM – As I said down the middle, I think we can reflect on that with the engagement.
Q1 – That’s nowhere near reflection.
CM – That’s exactly what I am saying that we need to do better on the engagement to make sure that future schemes, future thoughts, not just in Louth but across Lincolnshire are better developed and better engaged on so that we can be confident that we are getting a more nuanced thought process coming, through from the people we are trying to do this for.
Q1 Why does it need to change?
CM – I am not saying that it does but it is an opportunity to change, we might like to look at what the opportunities are, what might be beneficial. Do we think that Louth needs to stay as it is, does everyone think that? Yes there might be a majority here, but there might be some people here that might want to see something slightly different, if that doesn’t come through, then that is not the things that we will take forward. Would we say that the 200 people in here are representative of the 17,000, it is the same question back?
From the notes taken on the night Question 1 – What was the number of people replying to the on-line questionnaire rather than the percentage? Chris M said he did not have this information but it needed to better nuanced going forward. Why did it need to be changed? Chris Miller – To see if changes would be beneficial.
JS –Sorry, can you wait until it is your turn to speak please, I think the time is up for that particular speaker, we are giving 2 minutes each so to be fair to get everyone or as many people to speak as we can.
Thank you can you please give your name as you speak please.
Q2 – I am Alex Hall I am the local representative for Louth North on Lincolnshire County Council and obviously I appreciate Chris coming in to discuss everything, obviously he’s an officer, he is not an elected so I (inaudible) I have got to say that before the parklets arrived I was receiving a lot of concerns about the Active Travel Scheme, I still do, and the feeling after the parklets arrived was like, people were already irritated and then all of a sudden that irritation become very much frustration, and I must say the way that this scheme has been handled by the County Council has been quite appalling from the start. I know that people have already said that compromise, but I do feel at this point people are so frustrated that any more engagement feels like an endless process and people have suffered enough. It feels like it has gone on for so long and people are still feeling quite ignored by the County Council, and I think it has come to the point that it should just be abandoned. A lot are phased about the fact that if we don’t go ahead with the scheme that they might lose funding for transport in the future, but that isn’t actually the case. All the County Council need to show is that it trialled the scheme and that is all it needs to show to the government, and that is it. So I really do hope that the County Council does listen to the views of the residents in Louth, and I represent a lot of rural villages, Utterby and Fotherby and very many people are against the scheme.
From the notes taken on the night: Alex Hall – Thanked Chris for coming. I have to say before the parklets arrived I was receiving a lot of concerns about the scheme and still do. People were already irritated and then they become even mor frustrated. He said things had been handled appallingly from the start and people had suffered enough. People were feeling ignored by the county council. “We are coming to a point where the scheme should be completely abandoned. He said there had been a threat that C/c funding would be withdrawn so the county needed to show that the scheme had been trialled and this could be shown to the government. He said he really hoped the county council would now show they had listened to residents in Louth and the rural villages.
JS – We will have to close you now as, thank you for your comments but we have to move on to someone else.
Q3 – I think to call this scheme half baked is flattering (inaudible) it has not been baked at all. The starting point is that the Transport Minister at the time, Chris Heston-Harris, talked engagingly about consultation with (inaudible) public opinion. We have heard a lot of facts and figures, but it isn’t just the population of Louth, it is a service centre a small town in the district (inaudible) the effective population of the hinterland of Louth is 45,000. Only 300 people voted in favour of this – it is less than one percent. There are already wide footpaths in the town at 2m wide, how wide should they be? It is just incredible. As the Deputy Mayor said, the number of people said (inaudible) pedestrianisation. It isn’t, (inaudible) cafe culture, it is not either, it is purely about encouraging pedestrians and encouraging cyclists. I haven’t seen a single change in the number of pedestrians, of which there are always many in Louth, many kamikaze walk in front of cars. I cycle proficiently in the town and I haven’t seen any other cyclist new ones, other than tourists (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: To say the scheme was half baked was flattering. It had not been baked at all. He cited the Chris Heston-Harris (MP originator of such schemes) letter stating how important consultation was and objective testing. He questioned how 300 responses to the consultation, a mere 1 percent of the population of the town and its hinterland could be conclusive enough to allow the scheme to go ahead. The scheme was not about the cafe culture, it was about encouraging cycling and pedestrians. He had not seen an increase in either – and he was a cyclist.
Q4 – I live in North Cockerington, I live along the main road, I think the point is made that (inaudible) it is not just Louth. We feel that we are (inaudible), we have no public transport, as you can see we are both elderly, I don’t ride a bike, I can’t walk very far without a stick, I want to be able park near, if I want to park I want to park quickly and go, we were just talking about the Mercer Row (inaudible), those parking spaces along Mercer Row were used all day every day people coming for ten minutes. It is a loss to the traders in Louth.
From the notes taken on the night: The resident made the point it was not just about Louth residents. People from the villages were being penalised because they lived in the country. She couldn’t walk or cycle into Louth, she could not walk very far and now used a stick. People needed to park for a short time to pop into shops or banks and the Active Travel Scheme certainly was not supporting the traders.
Q5 – (inaudible) What I am really cross about even after the words you gave earlier, is that we still seem to have the same attitude. (inaudible) make this in, the County Council still the same people who impose the parklets and how have their attitudes changed since the (inaudible) of this scheme because I think I am unsure how they are being treated, and the unaccountability of it and the appalling communications of which there seem to be none. And the other thing is, that when the parklets were in Mercer Row they, in my opinion, when they left, it totally changed, when you walked down it was like a totally different place (inaudible) and what I would like to see is if we still have new ideas, suggested back from the County Council, that they are sent in such as way, not as plonking something in, to make (inaudible) changes that have a huge affect on people. But there is technology available which is much more affordable than creating parklets where you have screens with visuals and ideas (inaudible) we can see more gentle, developmental ideas presented to us rather than simply imposed upon us.
From the notes taken on the nigh:. His concerns were about how the scheme was imposed on Louth by the decision makers, there was no accountability and appalling communication. When the parklets were removed Mercer Row improved but why had they not used new technology to illustrate how they might look rather than just be plonked down. It would be a better way to see new ideas rather than having things imposed on the town.
JS – Thank you for those comments, I would like to invite Chris to respond to those comments if that’s ok?
CM – Yes just on the first part of what was said on the seating, yes there are elected representatives and they change when you vote for different people, but they are still in their positions as they were. In terms of their positions on the seating units/parklets, whatever you want to call them, I think if I am being totally honest here, they looked at it, reflected on it and then come to the same conclusion as most of you have, that they were perhaps the wrong idea in the wrong place, so we have to take that on board and as you quite rightly said, and as tried to demonstrate down the middle, that we already know that the engagement. The gentleman was quite right, that we need to look at the hinterland, we need to look at who is coming in to Louth, it is not just about people who live right in the centre, it’s got to be about people who are travelling from the village of Utterby footprint and all the rest of it, South Cockerington, wherever, coming into Louth to engage with the provisions and services which are here, it is not good just asking the people of Louth. I think we can see that and I think that bares out from perhaps the points made out here, as well as in terms of the number of people and what the percentage are. You are quite right, in terms of those opportunities for looking at different ideas, should that be come forward that find any traction , we need to do better at having to show people what that looks like, and how that would feel. That was the intention of the parklets at the end of the day, that is what we were trying to do, gauge that and what might be palatable. It has probably had that affect, we gauged what wasn’t palatably, but ultimately yes, there are other ways of doing it.
From the notes taken on the night: Chris Miller said that elected representatives had reflected on the parklets and realised they were in the wrong place. It was right to consider people coming in from the villages and it wasn’t just about the people of Louth. It was right to look at different ideas but the county council needed to do better to show people how things might look.
JS – Ok thank you Chris. Could we have speaker number 6 please?
Q6 – I am Lynne Cooney, I am a Town Councillor and I am here to represent the disabled community tonight, I am a special needs mum and I believe there are over 1000 blue badge holders of cars in Louth alone, let alone the tourists coming into town. What’s happened has been appalling Mr Miller, I found I have to park in town sometimes, my daughter has panic attacks and I need to park as close to the shops as I can and sometimes that is impossible. You spoke about (inaudible) data online and what I want to make clear to you tonight is some of those demographics of people (inaudible) as they couldn’t actually be online, particularly those people partially sighted, people with mental health problems, autistic people, the list goes on. You missed those vital people and they are the people that are suffering because they cannot get into town to park. You talk about cycling, people in villages aren’t going to cycle from their village with shopping bags on their bikes. I am sorry to sound the way I do, but I really am angry about this. I have residents who constantly email me that they hate coming into town, they don’t like the town centre now, I urge you please to listen to the people of Louth please, thank you.
From the notes taken on the night. Cllr. Lynne Cooney – She said she was a special needs mother with a blue badge because her daughter had panic attacks. How the disabled had been treated was appalling. The demographics had not been considered, many people were unable to access the on-line consultation due to disability etc. People in the villages could not come in on their bikes. Please listen to the people of Louth! Chris agreed that it had not been carried out very well and going forward things would be better structured.
JS – Thank you Cllr Cooney, Mr Miller wants to respond to that.
CM – Only as much that I think you are right and it is a very well made point, tried to demonstrate when I was in the middle of it we have to recognise that. Ok it was a pandemic related way that we delivered it, but that, but an online only engagement exercise would not be how we want to deliver it, we would normally want to get out to the wider areas to gauge proper opinion– It didn’t happen on this occasion, whether that was fully the pandemic or partly oversight I can’t know, was I wasn’t here at that time, but what I can say is that engagement going forward on the scheme, be it Louth on anywhere else in the county, will have to be better structured, and as you (inaudible) said, making sure we get thoughts of that those that are affected in those ways, in the ability section, making sure that that is recognised properly.
JS – Thank you Chris.
Person – Excuse me (inaudible) there is a chap here that hasn’t had the opportunity to speak.
JS – oh I do apologise.
Q5 – (inaudible) Either question. Did you consider people sitting by the edge of the road (inaudible) people sitting there being gassed (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: Would the traders be entitled to any compensation? He had asthma and COPD did the council really think he would like to sit in the road? Chris said there wouldn’t be any compensation, it did not qualify for this. He said seating near roads was not uncommon though.
CM – I will take the second one first question first. Yes I can understand that point and I can see that particularly given the location where the seating was put in an area where there was potentially stationery traffic there micro parklets would be more prevalent. On the other hand though, seating around a town around streets is not uncommon. There are seating available on pavements all around the country, these are similar, they are just a little bit closer to the traffic I will grant that. In terms of your questions about compensation, no I don’t think that that will be the case, I don’t make those kind of decisions, that is something in the political (inaudible), but I don’t think he qualifies for it in the same way that a road closure wouldn’t, but you can’t take my word for that as it is not my sphere of expertise and I am not a politician.
JS – OK thank you.
Q7 – I live in Louth, I have done for a number of years. The scheme has obviously failed (inaudible). It is clearly having an impact on traders and people with disabilities getting around the place as you have heard. The fact that you have a time limit of 18 months seems to me crazily long. You had a trial of the parklets which have lasted a couple of months maybe, and they’ve been taken away, or they would have been taken away (inaudible), so my question is, can you cut short this trial (inaudible) the parklets. I mean for heaven’s sake the government has changed its mind over 3 weeks.
From the notes taken on the night: The scheme had absolutely failed. The parklets had an impact on the traders, 18 months was crazily long for a trial. He said it should be cut short after all the government had changed its mind after three weeks! Chris said the scheme had not been designed to be permanent and time was needed to see what worked and what didn’t. If there was an appetite for change this would be taken on board. There was a wide breadth of views on this.
CM – I wake each morning thankful that I am not the Prime Minister. As you said these are experimental schemes and they were never designed to be permanent, although they were 18 months in terms of the order put out, that is standard for an experimental traffic regulation order, they do not have to last that long, so yeh, we try and act as (inaudible), as we can in understanding what the feedback is. What does work and doesn’t work, so yes if there is an appetite for change and ceasing it more quickly, then that will be taken on board. Again, I don’t make those decisions, I am not a politician, these are the sort of questions that go to the Transport Board for a wider conversation amongst representatives to try and represent the wide breadth of opinions from these things, and then we will make a decision based on that and the Transport Board taking in full.
Q8 – I have run a shop in Louth for over 40 years, and the chamber of business for over 25 years …. (inaudible) years as president, 16 years …. (inaudible) I chaired that. It’s not a question, it’s the comment. If there (inaudible) was anything important in Louth, we always went to the Town Council first. This has been ignored (inaudible), it then went to East Lindsey and then County Council, this is always the way that you should do it (inaudible), that was to bring people, visitors to Louth because Louth is a (inaudible) market town so individual to (inaudible) and so you can imagine how we feel when the County Council come along and overnight they (inaudible). When you look at Mercer Row (inaudible) they taken away car parking (inaudible) and he stated that parked cars (inaudible). Do they realise they have taken away on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday any 800 potential customers a day, that’s (inaudible). Mercer Row, Market Place Eastgate, the Market Hall, New Street, the banks, building societies everything, the hustle and bustle of (inaudible) and what have we go right now, it’s dead, it is empty. (inaudible). Only one thing I agree with, twenty mile an hour through the town centre, how soon can we get that? (inaudible) All over Europe, everywhere, 20mph and it works… I’ve got so much more to say but (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: In the past LCC had gone to the town council with issues likes this but this time round they had been ignored. Overnight the county council had come along and killed Louth. Taking away parking on Mercer Row was wrong. In the past we were told that parked cars were traffic calming but now what have we seen happen in the Cornmarket? They have taken away 800 potential customers a day by closing it. These customers keep our businesses going. We have lost the hustle and bustle and the Cornmarket is dread and it is empty. But I do agree with the 20 mph limit in the town.
JS – Thank you for your contribution.
Q9 – I am a resident of Alvingham, Louth born and bred. xxx has taken most of my thunder here…Everything that he said made an awful lot of sense. I just want to say, it is called an Active Travel Scheme, what it seems to have done is actively discourage people from coming into the town. Discouraged people from spending money in the wonderful shops in the town centre, and if I had a business in the town centre I would be absolutely fuming about the whole scheme and I would be looking to be closing this down as soon as possible, and to restore car parking or even increase the number of car parking spaces in Louth or make them free for an hour in all the car parks.
From the notes taken on the night: It is called the Active Travel scheme but it discouraged people from going into town and spending money. If I owned a business in the town centre I would be fuming. He called for car parking to be restored and even increase the or make it free for an hour in all our car parks. This should all be part of the feedback. Chris said the Transport Board would look at it, it’s part of their remit.
JS – Thank you.
CM – Do I want to respond, of course I do. No, you are right, it is all part of the feedback process, I was actually just reflecting on the car park charge that is outside the County Council control, afraid that is our colleague’s at the District, but, what I wanted to say is that the Travel (Transport) Board includes representatives of the District Council as well, both officers and elected representatives so what the Transport Board will look to do is a look at all the elements together as a package and rather than just individual bits like as I said. Active Travel is just one bit, if you want to look at Active Travel, whatever, it is just one part it is just one part of the Transport Board remit, so taking notes for all the sort of things that need to go in there for further consideration.
JS – Thank you.
Q10 – Ros Jackson, ELDC Councillor, Trinity Ward. So much of the comments (inaudible) about the parklets are saying ‘don’t bring them back’. It’s most important that Mercer Row itself doesn’t fail… (inaudible) bringing in traffic (inaudible), footfall to the shops, not just Mercer Row but to the rest of the town. Also I want to make the point that disability engagement around groups is a legal requirement, and in future engagement that is really essential. It is something that has been missed (inaudible). This scheme, Active Travel, it was supposed to be about walking and cycling and there is still an awful lot that we don’t know and it would shape policy in terms of what we get now, in this town actual to walk and cycle more (inaudible), but also do people need more cycling storage? Are they worried about getting on their bike (inaudible) traffic calming (inaudible). Do we need to put in schemes to encourage car sharing (inaudible). How safe do people in Louth getting on the bus? These are the sort of things I was hoping that we could get from an Active Travel Scheme. So really my question is, is there scope to go back and ask these questions, ask about this scheme and do it properly this time (inaudible)? To help us get around in a more active way without the parklets please.
From the notes taken on the night: Cllr. Ros Jackson – She urged the council not to bring back the parklets. She stressed that Mercer Row was the anchor in terms of footfall for the rest of the town. She told the meeting it was a legal requirement for the disabled to be consulted properly, that was really essential. She said the scheme was to promote walking and cycling but it would need safer cycling storage traffic calming etc. She suggested lift sharing and other alternatives which could be looked at but it all needed discussing. She said schemes were needed to get people round more actively. Chris agreed.
JS – Thank you.
CM – yes very much advocate that, some of the ideas you were coming up there, really good, all the sorts of things the Transport Board need to be looking at. (inaudible) We have to remember that the money we were given originally had to be on things that were temporary scheme so we couldn’t install permanent features like new cycling lanes or anything like that in particular, but they are the sort of things putting forward. In terms of cycling proficiency, yes, they still do it in school (inaudible) ability now but they still available in schools. All those things which are exactly the sort of ideas to discuss at the Transport Board for evaluation, looking at whether we can bring to Louth as a (inaudible).
JS – Thank you.
Q11 – None.
Q12 – I am from Holten le Clay, rural to Louth. When I come into Louth it was a great place, but now it is ruined. I used to say I can come in Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday is Market Day so don’t bother, Thursday, Friday is market day and Saturday. I can come in (inaudible) I can but I have to walk, so it has absolutely ruined Louth, and what are you going to do, you are going to push away the banks, because the banks aren’t getting business? I changed my bank from Grimsby to Louth HSBC now I can’t get to it. I’ve got to go to a car park which is half a mile away and I can’t walk from it so I can’t use a bank unless I am lucky and can get to into a disabled bay, and the three bays in the main street are 3 hours per car, so that means I go round and round for three hours and no one would have moved. But just think about it, nobody here is for it. I never saw it on the internet or in a paper or where you interview people, never even heard of it all I know if one day there were two skips parked in the street.
From the notes taken on the night: Said they used to come into the town on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays but he felt he could no longer come in during the day because he was disabled. He said the scheme was ruining Louth – for example he could no longer get to the bank unless he was very lucky to find a disabled parking spot. It needed to be remembered that blue badges allowed three hours in one spot, unlike the rapid turnover there used to be in the town centre. He also urged the removal of all the yellow lines on Mercer Row.
Q (did not have a ticket) – (inaudible) You say it’s temporary but can I just ask, will you be removing the three yellow lines on the kerb allow you to park before (inaudible).
CM – I will take that back.
JS – Thank you.
Q13 – (inaudible) I live in Louth, why didn’t we have a meeting before the parklets were put in place (inaudible). They were just there. (inaudible) feedbacks (inaudible) surveys.
From the notes taken on the night: She questioned how things had happened to Louth overnight. Consultation had been very poor.
Q14 – My family have owned a very successful business in Louth for 42 years. We are situated at the bottom of the Cornmarket. (inaudible) and we watch the activity in the Cornmarket that has now been closed for sometime (inaudible) now who wants to sit and have a cup of coffee (inaudible). We are now coming up to what should be our busiest time of year, Christmas. People are struggling to park to come and visit our shop. (inaudible) c customers from out of town and apologise as they have no where to park. Wouldn’t it be a sensible idea to reopen the Cornmarket at times like this when nobody is using it. (inaudible) Apart from an hour, hour and a half over lunchtime it is (inaudible). I have written twice to Lincolnshire County Council and not received a reply, it just comes out (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said he had run a family jewellers for 42 years at the top of the Cornmarket. He questioned exactly how many people actually made use of the cafe culture, it was minimal and in his estimation It was probably only an hour a day and a half a day and at other times it would be sensible to open up the Cornmarket at other times so anyone could park. It was not as many as claimed. The rest of the day nothing whatsoever was going on in the Cornmarket, it was empty He said Christmas was coming and it was his busiest time but people were struggling to get to his shop and to park. He was hearing from a lot of his customers who came from out of town who were apologising for not being able to get into the shop and trade with him because there was nowhere to park. He said he had written to the county council on a number of occasions and never received a reply.
JS – Thank you very much for your comments, I know you are from (inaudible).
Q15 – None.
Q16 – None.
Q17 – None.
Q18 – I am a parish councillor at Utterby. Can you just confirm, (inaudible) have they really gone or are they just being repaired as I heard they are just being repaired.
From the notes taken on the night: She asked if the parklets had really gone or were they simply being repaired. If they had gone they were a costly mistake.
CM – Stand by your beds…. they’ve gone!
Q18 – What’s happened, frankly what a costly mistake.
CM – Yeh I will just come back to the cost, it’s been widely daubed on your roads but obviously that was not just over 2 units but 4 units and with the removal they will be used elsewhere, just we wont be using them essentially in Louth, so the longevity of the lifespan over the Active Travel would of defrayed. They were what they were and I can’t change that but, I get the sense, for me personally, I have only just landed on this project really. I don’t want to look back too much because I think we can gauge from that, from the expression in the room almost that we need to do things differently, what I want to look at is positive to go forward, in trying to take new fresh ideas, a better engagement though the Transport Board so that we can actually provide a change, if change is wanted. I can’t answer that question, only you can, you are the residents of Louth, to answer that question, but that needs to be discussed engaged on properly which I where I think we had problems.
From the notes taken on the night: Chris Miller said the cost was spread over four years , so the costs were defrayed. He could not change this. He admitted the council needed better ideas and better engagement to provide change if that was what was needed.
Q19 – (inaudible) and to tell you the truth this Cornmarket (inaudible). I speak for disabled people, I have friends in the same position, it is simply (inaudible) so let’s get back where we was, we are a market town. There are businesses in the town and people coming into the town – it’s not (inaudible) it’s not (inaudible), it’s a small market town (inaudible) so please, listen to what we are saying. You talk about 500 people that went online – it’s a mockery of conservation when you speak about (inaudible) when as already mentioned there are 45000 (inaudible) of people involved in this scheme (inaudible) use the town. So please, take away the fact that the small percentage (inaudible), quite simply was not representative really and the people at this meeting (inaudible). I don’t know if there are any positives from your point of view this summer but from my point of view there are so many negatives, bring back the parking (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said he was now disabled so the changes had affected him greatly. He asked that the parking should be returned to where it had been before the imposition of the changes. Louth was not Paris or Italy, it was a small market town so he implored the county council to listen. He said it had been a mockery of a consultation . For such a small percentage to be in favour was ridiculous and quite simply did not represent the views of the area. It was totally negative he argued and parking in the Cornmarket should be brought back immediately.
DH – (Cllr. Darren Hobson)- We think there may be two number 20s out there.
Q21 – My name is (Cllr) Pauline Watson, I was a County Councillors quite a few years ago. This would never had got past me in the first place. This is a conservation area we are dealing with here. Traders have to deal with the right type of signage, lighting colour, everything else, it should be the first thing on your radar, that you cannot put bright yellow (inaudible) with bright yellow markings on the road, that in the conservation area that every road in the conservation area you have to have pale lemon, that is a basic of any county council to look in the area and see it is a conservation area, (inaudible) I take issue with (inaudible) it is an absolute disgrace and I hope that in future you have a bit more respect for the traders and the people of this town that obey conservation all the time.
From the notes taken on the night: Cllr Pauline Watson said she had also been a county councillor who fought for better signage and lighting. She reminded LCC that the lines in Mercer Row were the wrong yellow, the officers simply had not done their homework properly and it was an absolute disgrace. Officers should have more respect for the people of the town.
Q22 – None.
Q23 – None.
Q24 – (inaudible) I am the branch manager for HSBC Louth. So picking up from XXXX at the front there and (inaudible) I had a meeting with one of my seniors today and we talked about volumes of customers in the branch. And only 5/6 months ago we were getting 650 customers a month, we are now down to 540 and I would say the reduction of the 100 customers down could be potentially disabled or vulnerable customers who can’t get in to see us. (inaudible) and the other thing that came out of our meeting today was the viability of the branch. I have been with HSBC for 39 years and I have never known it so bad in Louth, and it worries me for the customers and it worries me for the town. Potentially, don’t quote me, but potentially there is a question for the viability of Louth.
From the notes taken on the night: Works for the HSBC in the Cornmarket. She said she had had a meeting with a senior manager of the bank earlier in the day and they had talked about the volume of customers. Five or six months ago there were 650 people visiting the branch each month, now there was an average of 540. She felt the drop was down to the disabled and vulnerable not being able to get to the branch to see them. She said she had worked for the bank for 39 years and she had never known it so bad for Louth and she admitted she was very worried for the town. She said the drop in figures was a significant threat to the viability of the branch.
Q25 – None.
Q26 – I am a retired teacher when I and my family(inaudible) from north London about 40 years ago it was a thriving market town (inaudible )market stall openness in the Cornmarket (inaudible) market town, we are going to lose all that. I have colleagues that come from other parts, Grimsby for example, and I say what are you doing here? Oh we come here because it is a market town, I come to Louth because of the market, because of the shops and so on (inaudible) cafe culture (inaudible) less and less and less, there will just be an empty area (inaudible) if you are going to destroy that, it is a big mistake and a silly thing to do (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said Louth used to be a thriving market town with a vibrant market. Louth did not want to lose its viability, people liked to come in to go to the market and the shops and there was a danger of destroying this and being left with lots of empty shops. To destroy this would be a big mistake.
JS – Thank you very much, before we move on, can I just remind people that we are getting a lot of repetition of points, I know (inaudible) and we thank you for them, but if there are any new points that you would like to raise that would be very welcome too. Saying that we would like to move on to number 27 if there is a 27 here, yes, the lady down the front thank you.
Q27 – (inaudible) the arts and craft gallery on Mercer Row (inaudible). My first point is Louth Active Travel Scheme, from LCC to Victoria Atkins dated 20th May 2021 (inaudible) Mercer Row businesses will be consulted before any parking (inaudible) Mercer Row and Cornmarket. When have such consultations have ever gone ahead? Go to March 22 – Mercer Row is now stripped of its half hourly parking spaces and (inaudible) no stopping, no parking except for disabled parking spaces (inaudible) are imposed (inaudible). Without any discussion, without any recompense for those businesses who have suffered financial losses. My second point is, and now the parklets have appeared overnight, again without any consultation with businesses (inaudible) on Mercer Row. They were always going to be a magnet for unsocial behaviour, again a lack of common sense, not to mention the health and safety (inaudible). Number three, Louth is a (inaudible) Georgian market town, with good, safe, successful parking for tourists, visitors, customers etc. Point number four, please reinstate Louth’s family friendly reputation back to Gem of the Wolds, Louth market town.
From the notes taken on the night: She said the lady who runs the art shop on Mercer Row had received a letter on May 20 last year telling her the scheme was going to be brought in, it was the first notice she had this was going to happen. Then in March this year she learnt that Mercer Row would be stripped of parking except for two spaces. She felt that compensation should be forthcoming in recompense for the losses caused. The parklets had suddenly arrived too and they were always going to be a magnet for anti-social behaviour as well as being a health and safety risk. Louth was an historic market town and it needed safe and accessible parking. The council should put back in place Louth’s reputation for being the gem of the Wolds immediately.
JS – Thanks you.
Q28 – None.
Q29 – (inaudible) Just to say on Thursday it was a day like today, the temperature was about 17/18 degrees in town, it was about 12:30 and in the Cornmarket there was one person sitting having a coffee, one person in that whole area . XXx had no tables out, ??? had no tables out and ?? had no tables out. There was no one there, why are we going on with it?
From the notes taken on the night. He said the temperature the previous Thursday had been 18C and there was just one person sitting out in the Cornmarket having coffee. Most of the other outlets had not put out their tables! How as that fair to other people running businesses in the area?
Q30 – I am a Louth resident, most of the comments made here tonight, my wife and I have incessantly emailed the County Council. The reply that we had from Councillor Cllr Davies more or less said Louth have got this for 18 months, just get on with it. This is what we have. What I want to say is I’m with the HSBC I am one of her customers, if the bank goes, the town goes. Let’s keep Louth (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said he had emailed the county council to complain and had been told the trial was 18 months so he should get over it! And then the parklets came…..
JS – Can we move onto number 31 please?
Q31 -(inaudible) I love this town the way it is. I haven’t got any sensible ideas. We talk about the banks closing. Sure it has got something to do with internet banking (inaudible) it’s what the big brother wants us to use, the internet (inaudible). Now when we talk about the cafe culture, the idea of cafe culture is getting together, talking together in my mind is a brilliant idea, but it has got to be applied to Louth, not taking Louth as another area (inaudible). Ok so (inaudible) to think about those ideas as we go forward. (inaudible) The cafe culture is separate (inaudible). Let’s talk about Mercer Row. The parklets, yes, were ridiculous (inaudible) but we need to start thinking about the future of the town, not how the past used to be but what the future of this town could be like (inaudible). We need to start thinking about the future, now I am 61 and I come from the 70s, Grandways, the first service (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said that he felt the scheme did have some good ideas and he fully supported the cafe culture in Louth. He said he had a four year-old grandson growing up in the town and we needed to think with a view to the future.
JS – Thank you. 32 please.
Q32 – From Louth, most of the things I was going to say have been said, the arrogance and ignorance that put through, that we have been put through (inaudible) it just goes to show how we are not considered (inaudible) – how wrong you are (inaudible). Has anyone got the decency to say I resign, or as (inaudible) said to Liz Truss, are you going to apologise. Thank you.
From the notes taken on the night: He criticised the arrogance and ignorance shown by the council and said the town’s wishes had not been considered. He asked if no-one had the decency to say the parklets in particular were a risk?
JS – Thank you. 33 please 34, 35… you don’t get a prize I am sorry (a quip on finally a number being used).
Q36 – I m a resident from Louth, again lots I was going to say has been said. (inaudible) permanent painted lines on the cobbled area in the parking area (inaudible) as you are not allowed to park. As far as I am concerned if you spend the money sensibly, responsibly, before it is spent, think what you are spending (inaudible) the parklets cost an awful lot of money. More thought should have gone to where the money was spent. Yes put some benches in but small ones where people can sit around the Cornmarket If you want to sit down, some (inaudible) do need to sit down while they are shopping. I written twice to the county council and had no reply (inaudible). Meetings tonight – we didn’t get a lot of notice, and I am busy (inaudible) for the town, an active town, can we have more notice of future meetings please then hopefully we can discuss this hopefully together again. There are planters all over town, we bought last year planted by the Lions and looked after by (inaudible) they looked empty this summer don’t spend any (inaudible). We have them but they need to be planted up and looked after. It’s what (inaudible) the County Council , the Town Council, Parish Council ?? Thank you.
From the notes taken on the night: She said she was concerned about how money had been spent on the scheme and more thought should have gone into it all. She had also written to the county and got no reply. She reminded the planters lay empty. The Lions had initially planted them upon but they were never looked after. She added she felt there was insufficient notice for the meetings being held to discuss the scheme, people had busy lives.
JS – Thank you. Just like to remind you that this meeting was rescheduled sadly due to the Queen’s passing, we did put it out on the Louth Town Council site, and it was on social media. So we do apologise if you did not get that notice, but there are quite a few of you here, we thank you for coming. We think we may have run out of ticketing at the moment, I don’t know if there is a number 38, yes there is.
DH – can you raise your hand if you still have a ticket. 37.
Q37 – (inaudible) Surely one of the things we can say the fact that we are all here tonight and (inaudible), surely what we ought to do is reinstate all the parking that was there before and then send a letter to the Exchequer saying we would return the money which has not been spent to the Exchequer so that he can ???move the economy forward.
From the notes taken on the night: He said the parking should be reinstated immediately and then a letter should be sent to the Exchequer saying we would return the money which had not been spent, so it could be put to better use to take the economy forward.
JS – number 38, 39?
Q39 – (inaudible) retired, I have been here 30 years, under the general headings the town centre has prime uses to my mind, it is shopping, retail, businesses and banks and all the car parks around are out of walking distance for many people in order to go to those, to stop off and drop off. It seems to me, the present scheme seems to have thrown out exactly opposite to that (inaudible) I cannot see how we got to this point. However, looking to the future, I understand what the gentleman at the back said about future and changes, but were are here now, trading now, banks now, (inaudible) Louth and it’s hinterland now, not for the future – we can discuss that later. My point is, can it finished before the 18 months up, because Louth could well be dead by then. And thirdly, is there enough money held back to in order to reinstate where we were before sending it back to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
From the notes taken on the night: He said he had lived here for 30 years. The car parks were out of walking distance for a lot of people and there were no stop off points provided. Louth had a hinterland it needed to cater for as well as the town. If the town waited 18 months for the trial to end the town would be dead by then. He said there was enough money left over to reinstate things to how they were.
CM – (inaudible) Yes in terms of the decision and where we go from here ?? that political decision goes back to Cllr Davies.
From the notes taken on the night: Chris Miller reminded the audience that would be a political decision down to Councillor Davies.
JS – Thank you.
Q40 – My wife and I moved to Louth a beautiful town, was the disabled parking facilities which were brilliant, sadly no more. Can I ask that the parking kerb stripes that have been put on Mercer Row be removed as soon as possible so that (inaudible) again on double yellow line. The other thing is the good shops, Eve and Ranshaw (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He said he and his wife had moved to Louth quite recently and a disabled person he had found the town brilliant and he and his wife really loved the shops .Sadly that was no more. He urged the council to remove the markings on Mercer Row so that the disabled could reuse the street as soon as possible.
Q40 (2x 40s) – Cllr George Horton – I am a District Councillor and a Town Councillor for Louth (inaudible). What I want to know is when will the County Council listen to us. We have had meeting after meeting. I have sent 6 emails to Cllr Richard Davies with replies that say to get in touch with your local County Councillor Sarah Parkin, that’s all you get, you don’t even get a the gracious of an answer. (inaudible) meetings, we have told people to write into the County Council to share their views. I accept not everybody is against it, but being a political (inaudible) that use percentages instead of actual figures, you go back and say that 100% of Louth that are here are against it, because that is what figures you use, (inaudible). While I am on about it the County Council are here to help us. Louth Town council want to put up 13 or 14 Christmas trees to light the town up for its visitors and residents. We are (inaudible) we are taking them down again, they are solar panels so costing the rate payer is nothing, so what’s the county council do to help Louth – charge us £36 a lamp post. It’s disgraceful, it’s about time you go back and tell Cllr Davies how the feelings of Louth is and how gracious to attend a meeting and not hide without any excuse (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He questioned when the county council was going to listen to Louth. He said he had sent six emails and the replies said get in touch with his councillor, Sarah Parkin. But she had been in favour of the scheme whilst 100 percent of the town had been against it. He told the meeting that the county was not helpful towards the town. He revealed that it was charging £36 a lamp post for the display of solar Christmas trees over the festive period. It was about time the county to start supporting the town and not using every excuse.
Q41 – (inaudible) When Look North had the parklets on and Peter Levy was biting his (inaudible) to stop smiling and they said that Richard Davies was in charge, they said they’d done the health and safety checks and everything else. I question that, as I looked online at the parklets in Berlin and they are exactly the same as the ones you got in Louth, same style but they had extra safety valves around them and they weren’t in the road, they were at the side of the road. I (inaudible) for six weeks and I got a one line email back saying in the first instance please contact your local County Councillor. If you (inaudible) the feeling in this room, why has he sent you? No disrespect to you, why has he send the new boy when he is in charge, why isn’t he here facing (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He questioned health and safety of the parklets. Similar seats in Berlin had been fitted with safety valves. He too had emailed the county and had received a one line replay. He told Chris there was a great deal of feeling in the room and questioned why a “boy” had been sent to face the town. Why was he sent?
CM – Obviously I can’t speak for Cllr Davies, I don’t know why he can’t be here tonight, he had a prior engagement. He does cover the whole of the county, it is not just Louth, he has to represent (inaudible). I am here and I am spending my time in gauging. I will feed that back, I have no problem with that, I will feed anything back to Cllr Davies (inaudible).
JS – Can I ask now are there any other speakers wanting to speak?
Q42 – Hello and good evening – (inaudible) I work here in this beautiful town. (inaudible) I can’t put it in any better words than a 4 year old I am working with on a daily basis (inaudible) in school (inaudible) during a recent (inaudible) just came out with it and said, Miss xxx did you know there are seats in the road in the town…I said, goodness me, really well isn’t that silly. It is absolutely is silly isn’t it Miss XXX and (inaudible) she is sitting on them and she could be hurt (inaudible). I was (inaudible) to hear that this ridiculous (inaudible) has no place in our town (inaudible). I think really (inaudible) I think it is (inaudible) to reach a happy conclusion(inaudible), I am not in favour of (inaudible). I do hope to inspire young minds. I can walk into town, I am very fortunate, I am able bodied, (inaudible) I can cycle(inaudible)… I don’t. I am also rather partial to a glass of wine in an afternoon in the market place (inaudible). Let’s bring back the parking, let’s have café culture (inaudible) during summer and let’s bring back parking from September onwards.
From the notes taken on the night: She said one of her four year-old pupils had deemed the parklets silly as a bus could run into them and a lot of people could be hurt. The parklets had no place in this town and our opinions had been made very clear. She said she was in favour of moving the town forward. She could walk and cycle in the summer months but said we should not be silly, customers needed to get to the shops but in the summer months it was nice to be able to have a cup of coffee outside but from October parking needed to be brought back.
JS – Thank you.
Q43 – ?? there are plenty people who don’t have blue badges who now struggle to get to and from to Louth Market Place. I now find myself going to Louth, walk into town, buy it, ask the shop keepers to keep hold of it for me, walk back to my car, get in my car, drive to (inaudible), park illegally (inaudible). This is utter nonsense, we need parking back because (inaudible) disabled are struggling (inaudible).
From the notes taken on the night: He reminded we had an ageing population in this area but many did not have blue badges. He said if he wanted to buy something in Louth he now had to ask a shopkeeper to hold it so he could park his car illegally and hop across the road to pick up his purchases. He urged the council to reinstate the parking straight away.
Q44 – I live just outside of Louth (inaudible) my wife is registered fully disabled so I have to bring the car (inaudible) to the town, try and find a place, get the wheelchair out and move on from there. I find this totally unacceptable in 2022, and you sir, are not fit for purpose, for you to stand up there and to (inaudible) ?% questions that are fired at you, saying you are going to have to refer or whatever (inaudible). It shows disrespect (inaudible) and I think we need someone better than (inaudible) to answer the questions.
From the notes taken on the night: person from outside Louth. He said his wife was disabled and he had to get his wife’s wheelchair out of the car when he came here and this was unacceptable in 2022. Louth was not fit for purpose and what had happened was disrespectful. He said he thought someone better should have been sent to Louth to answer the town’s questions. He had been a professional before he retired and he never went to a meeting without being fully prepared.
Q45 – I own a business on Mercer Row, quite close to where those parklets were sat. I am glad to see the back of them(inaudible). Absolutely ludicrous idea, whoever thought of it and wasted sixty grand of taxpayers money. The other thing, most of what I have come to say has been said. I am reliant on these people for my living, many of these people have been supportive of my shop and I feel for them on a daily basis, people struggling (inaudible), I recognise his voice, one of my customers, he struggles in and out of the shop (inaudible) on a daily basis. An Active Travel Scheme is for active people, these people, many of them can’t hardly walk and you’re just (inaudible) in the town centre, and in this day and age if it was discriminating another sector of society, you wouldn’t dare (inaudible) but you are (inaudible) the disabled, it’s a disgrace. (inaudible) on Mercer Row, the impact (inaudible) we are small businesses (inaudible) many of the businesses on Mercer Row are struggling big time, they need (inaudible) they need support (inaudible). We are for improving (inaudible) in Louth, we all are, we all want to see improvement (inaudible). Cyclist and pedestrians, I see real no increase in pedestrian footfall and the only cyclists, the only ones I see are doing wheelies on the xxxx footpath.
From the notes taken on the night: The butcher said he was glad to have seen the back of the parklets and the children doing wheelies on their bikes. Whoever had come up with the idea of spending this money should be sacked, he argued. He said he relied on Louth for his living and he felt for people who were disadvantaged by the scheme. He said active travel was for active people and by not being inclusive they were discrimination against the old , disabled and inform by stopping them coming into town. This, he stressed, was a disgrace. It had impacted on small businesses and many were struggling from the impact of the introduction of the scheme. Any initiatives should benefit everyone as well as creating employment. There had not, he argued, been any increase in walkers or cyclists.
JS – Sorry I am going to have to stop you and move on…
Q45 – (inaudible) more cycle racks to allow cyclists to come into the town.
JS – Thank you very much for your comments.
Q46 – Cllr Andrew Leonard (inaudible) of the town, he is very disappointed that Cllr Richard Davies elected for (inaudible) couldn’t be bothered to turn up tonight as (inaudible) Sarah Parkin. (inaudible) I will remind you all… that those people at the County Council get £11,055 of your money every year for four years and on top (inaudible), on top of that Cllr Richard Davies received an extra £19,720 and he cant even make it here. He gave an undertaking to listen to the public of Louth and listen, she said she would listen, she hasn’t listened, she posted a (inaudible) photo on Facebook about how positive about how wonderful it all is, we must carry on we (inaudible), people’s livelihoods are at stake, their businesses, their homes. It’s alright if you get County Council money, it’s dead easy money. (inaudible) dropped 33%, you can’t just drop 33% and (inaudible) it’s ridiculous (inaudible). Cllr Davies has a lot to answer for (inaudible), he has no intention of (inaudible) Louth. The MP for the area struggles to get through to him on email, he wont respond (inaudible). Contact your County Councillor, well what’s the point, she saw it, she seems happy (inaudible) and at the end of the day, you elected those people and they are using your money, so I think you should have a say in Louth, XXX from Larders had it right from the word go as he said that actually (inaudible) you should have café culture on the market days (inaudible) if anybody had listened to him, because they don’t (inaudible).
JS – Thank you Cllr Leonard.
Q46 – (Cllr Leonard) Too often we pussyfoot around because we don’t want to offend someone, I couldn’t care less, I am here to do a job (inaudible) in the town, (inaudible) over it.
From the notes taken on the night: Cllr Andrew Leonard – He said he was disgusted Richard Davies and Sarah Parkin had not shown their faces at either of the meetings in the town, despite saying they would listen. People’s livelihoods were at stake. He said he felt people were being too nice about things but he was prepared to speak up. He told the meeting exactly how much the councillors were being paid – over £30k and £11k respectively. Councillor Davies had a lot to answer for, not least his reputation for not replying to emails. He reminded the meeting that Mike from Larders had right from the start told him that his idea was just to run the cafe culture on market days and he felt people should listen to this idea.
JS – We have a gentleman down the front who wants to speak, if we can just get the microphone to you.
Q47 – No number – (inaudible) I have been less affected by the parking because thankfully I am reasonably mobile, but I just want to thank Chris for coming along this evening and making himself (inaudible), but I want to reinforce the disappointment that those who made the decisions that affected this town so badly are not here to face the people that they affected.
JS – Thank you very much, I am very conscious of the time, and I think we have heard a wide range of comment here. I don’t thing anyone else what’s to speak, is that right? Gentleman has already spoken, Cllr Makinson Sanders.
Q48 – Cllr Makinson Sanders – The thing about the night time economy (inaudible) the Cornmarket (inaudible) wanting to use restaurants, pubs and anywhere else, we are cutting that out completely. We love our (inaudible) shops, in fact the District Council has (inaudible) and what does the county council do, it actually making it difficult for our traders to get on and do what they do. They had to close during lockdown, they didn’t have a choice and some of them are desperately trying to make up for what they lost in those two years and what’s happened if that the County Council would just stop doing this experiment. It’s not good enough I am afraid, they should be supporting traders and do everything to (inaudible) to the town to spend money in shops not to (inaudible) them and make them. So (inaudible) Chris, I take my hat off to you, good for you mate for coming along and actually listening to us all. But you need to ??? with some undertakings. We need to know that you are going to look at how (inaudible), so our businesses need to know if to stock up (inaudible) like Woollisses – we need to be supportive of those people (inaudible), you know that and you tell us now what you are going to do and write a report, because it is all about strategies. I understand you are not a politician (inaudible). Come here and listen to people what they should have done… (inaudible) .. so we want to know what you are going to do and what you are going to suggest to Richard Davies who is the man with the power and he (inaudible) like Louth did you know. So what is your answer?
From the notes taken on the night: Jill Makinson-Sanders – reminded the meeting that the loss of parking in the Cornmarket had hit the night time economy in Louth. There was little or no reason why the street could not be open for parking after 6pm. She thanked Chris for coming to the meeting and for having the bravery which the two elected councillors had failed to show. She said businesses were really struggling and with the challenging winter ahead things could only get worse unless some positive steps were taken.
JS – Thank you. Before we do that, and summarise, is there anyone here who wants to speak who hasn’t spoken? I just want to finish with the speakers and then I will come back.
Q49 – Cllr Hannah Filer, Louth Town Council, I just want to say how disappointed I am that the (inaudible) parklets overshadow what might be seen to have potential for the town. (inaudible) I heard comments (inaudible) where they said that future proofing was something we needed to think about. There have been so many (inaudible) it has been so stressful that not sleeping well (inaudible). But I just think that the passion in the room tonight shows how much people care about the town. Future decisions, we all need to be very involved and that includes all (inaudible) ELDC. We all ought to be working together, ultimately in my view the Active Travel Scheme, there were some very good points behind it but we actually help our town move on in the future, but (inaudible) and I don’t think we can even come back from it and I am so disappointed, and it is something that Lincolnshire County Council have to take responsibility for.
The notes taken on the night. Hannah Filer – She said she had been disappointed with the fiasco around the parklets. The proposed scheme did have potential and the town needed future proofing . The whole issue had been very stressful for lots of people but there was passion in the community showing people did care about the community. Mistakes had been made and she was disappointed about this but LCC had to take responsibility for that.
JS – I would just like to read out a letter from someone who could not be here tonight. Mike from Larders, he says, unfortunately I will be on holiday for the meeting otherwise of course I will have attended. I am not sure if I can make a statement on my views that could be read out at the meeting, if that is not practical that is fine.’ The Cafe Culture has been a tremendous success for all of us hospitality businesses in the Cornkmarket and all we thank those in allowing and helping to make this happen. Of course, we accept that this is not to everybody’s taste, if you mind the pun! However, a survey carried out by Larders and ?? collected well over 500 yes votes along with well over 200 signatures collected from Larders. Many businesses I have spoken to have said that footfall has increased over the summer, this has to be good, so please keep the cafe culture, this fabulous initiative for Louth and visitors. We accept it can be better and should be made better and this can only happen with all councillors and public on board, many thanks, xxxx from the Old Warehouse, Larders.’
From the notes taken on the night: A letter was read to the meeting by the Deputy Mayor sent by xxxx from Larders who had missed the meeting because he was away on holiday. He said he felt the cafe society had been a fabulous initiative for the town and this was supported by a petition which had attracted over 500 signatures.
JS – With that I would like to Chris Miller to come back…
Cllr Leonard starts to speak from back regarding a member of the public that had said something…
JS – Thank you go ahead Cllr Leonard.
Cllr Leonard – A freedom of information request by this person (inaudible) risk assessment for the use of the parklets and if so (inaudible). The answer was that no risk assessment had been done. Also why there were no bollards warning people, if you have a skip on the road you have to give notice of the skip, (inaudible) again things that were done afterwards and not before. And has any extra (inaudible) and the council’s response was no. (inaudible) Was the Road Safety Partnership (inaudible) sought before the installation and that was (inaudible) the response. The advice was not sought (inaudible).
The notes taken on the night. He also revealed the contents of a health and safety report one of his contacts had received regarding the parklets. It had been very negative about them. There had been no risk assessment for the parklets when there should have been.
JS – If I can ask Chris to comment?
CM –Not to provide a response but the Road Partnership were certainly aware (inaudible) didn’t raise any particular concerns in terms of road safety.
Cllr Makinson-Sanders – (inaudible).
Cllr Leonard – Why wasn’t consulted with the Road Partnership as a first option? Second one was the factoring of an official body and the intervention of (inaudible) the results and the facts of what had happened because you put it there? It seems that before they implemented the parklets it seems that little or no consultation was done by (inaudible) is there extra insurance, has assessments been done (inaudible) – so basically nothing done prior to the parklets being installed on Mercer Row (inaudible), a County Council who’s job is to do that and nothing else.
JS – Thanks you Cllr Leonard, thank you Chris.
CM – I was going to say I am not quite sure that is right – we certainly did speak to the Road Partnership and the liability is covered through the County Council’s general liability insurance as it is operating as a Highways Authority (inaudible). Not quite sure where that response came from.
Cllr Leonard – (inaudible).
CM – So coming back to what Cllr Makinson-Sanders said, what am I gong to take away, what am I going to feedback to Cllr Davies, and hopefully Cllr Hall is another elective representative will also be making your representation know to Cllr Davies, I am sure that will be the case. It is easy for me to gauge the strength of feeling in the room, certainly I picked up a lot about the ability to park within Louth – yes there is car parking around the town, is it in the right place, is this something that needs to be looked at. We want to look forward, we don’t want to look too retrospectively on this, it has been a learning curve. We need to take forward positive ideas that some people have been putting forward here – take them through the Transport (Travel) Board, so the district council can be involved, the town council, as the Councillor was saying, and the representatives within Louth of particular bodies, so that we can come together with a consensus of what should work and what we would like to see happen in Louth. These are the things I am going to take back. I believe the next Transport (Travel) Board is in a couple of week’s time, haven’t got the exact date I am afraid. But the representatives will be there, and this will all be fed back to them and that is why I am here today, to make sure that it is a part of that process and take things forward.
Audience – (inaudible)
JS – I just want to summarise what we have heard. This meeting has been a test of public opinion. Very valuable and informative points made along with the data which has been related from the surveys which have been undertaken, ones for visitors and residents and one for the businesses will be fed back to the Transport (Travel) Board, fed back to ELDC and Lincolnshire County Council and this information will help to determine a constructive way forward and a balance with regards to the very crucial issue, I think you will agree with that. I would like to say a big thank you to you all for coming along and supporting the meeting. I hope you feel you have had a chance to air your views and that they will be sent back to the appropriate officers. I would like to just conclude, as I say, yourselves for coming along, all the speakers that have contributed, all the officers, the Town Clerk and her assistant for all their help in preparing the meeting and also the church for giving us the facilities here to conduct the meeting, the press, the BBC Radio Lincs for advertising it. Just to say as we have already stated, these views will be fed back and they will determine the decisions going forward and I would also like to add that it is hoped that there will be a stronger collaboration between County, District, Town and Parish Councils in the future, so that we are not here, down the road, and so we know exactly where we stand.
Member of audience – I have a question about what you just said, is the report going to be sent through from Chris going to be visible to the public to read somewhere because we want to know what is being put forward? Can we have access to it please.
JS – Yes Chris is saying it will be put on the Louth Town Council website. Do we have a timescale?
CM– of this meeting? Of feedback? As soon as I have written it up. There is no formal reporting structure, I will send it to the town council – I can’t give a time of when I can actually send it, I have meetings all next week, possibly the end of the week, I will do it as soon as I can possibly get to it. It goes through Louth Town Council.
Member of audience -Thank you very much I would just like to say that (inaudible) under the freedom of information that no health and safety assessment was done (inaudible) I would a (inaudible) very sincerely that it is a corporate responsibility. If this is a (inaudible) court (inaudible) you could be charged with fines, and you could go to prison for (inaudible) and I think for you to (inaudible) the public purse (inaudible) not fit for purpose.
JS – Thank you for your conduct, take care, safe home, thank you very much indeed – watch the website.