Fears have been raised that businesses in Louth are already feeling the pinch after car parking charges were controversially ramped up.
Claims were made at the annual Louth Town Meeting that Louth had become a ‘ghost town’ and that the economy had been ‘gravely affected’ by the changes which were brought in by East Lindsey District Council in April.
The authority defied local opposition, including a petition with 2,624 signatures, to make the previously free cattle market site a £3 per day paid-for car park as well as increasing charges across the board to fill a £400,000 ‘black hole’ in their budget.
Speaking as parishioners at the meeting on May 14, councillors claimed Louth’s visitor economy had been hit hard in recent weeks.
“We need to put as much pressure as possible on East Lindsey as we can, we’ve got to wait 10 months for a review on the changes and there’s going to be a lot of people who won’t come to Louth anymore,” coun Sue Locking said.
“We’re concerned about the three festivals in Louth this year especially with the Sunday charges being brought in, we’re going to lose footfall.”
The outgoing mayor, Jill Makinson-Sanders, said Louth had become a ‘ghost town’ since the changes had been introduced.
Former mayor Margaret Ottaway said: “How it was voted through is not altogether a mystery.
“There’s businesses in Louth being gravely affected because of the people who come from Mablethorpe and Market Rasen, they can’t afford to park here.”
“I’ve been down to the cattle market and the car parks which are normally full had two cars in, where are they all going?” George Horton asked.
“They’ve now gone onto Church Street and St Mary’s lane, East Lindsey have forced people out of the car parks and onto the streets, it’s naive.
“ELDC are really knocking us back and we’ve got to get a grip. I hope Louth Town Council will take this up, car parking is a real issue to businesses and the visitors to Louth.”
Jackie Featherstone, who successfully campaigned to keep Louth’s Ambulance Station open earlier this year, labelled the changes ‘ridiculous’.
“The voting was a bit of a grey area, for what seems like little gain they are killing off Louth,” she said. “If we have to start a new campaign so be it. This is people’s lives, something needs to be done about it.
“I didn’t vote in this ridiculous scheme.”
At the ELDC full council meeting in January where the changes were voted through, Louth district councillor Philip Sturman had said there was ‘no evidence at all’ that trade would suffer as a result.