Louth campaign groups react to Cattle Market sale doubts

Louth Cattle Market. EMN-151003-100843001
Louth Cattle Market. EMN-151003-100843001

Campaign groups Keep Louth Special and Move Louth Forward have responded to the news that ELDC is “reviewing its position” over the sale of the Cattle Market after Asda Stores Ltd revised its offer, as reported last week.

Chairman of Keep Louth Special, Alan Mumby, told the Leader: “ELDC has been forced to announce that Asda/Walmart has chopped the price it is willing to offer for the cattle market site.

With new convenience stores all over the place, plus an Aldi on its way, the town’s economy and population just can’t support the kind of megastore that the pro-supermarket lobby want in Louth.

Alan Mumby, Keep Louth Special.

“They won’t tell us the prices (new or old) but it must be a big cut for the council to decide it is now so tricky, that it will leave it for the new council, post election. The cost of the new cattle market – still unquantified - may easily swallow the proceeds of the sale for a much smaller, but still unnecessary store. If so, ELDC will have jeopardised the town, enraged the farming community, failed to satisfy the pro-supermarket lobby, and still failed to make a profit for the district. Brilliant.

“It is something we at Keep Louth Special have long predicted – with new convenience stores all over the place, plus an Aldi on its way, the town’s economy and population just can’t support the kind of megastore that the pro-supermarket lobby want in Louth. The figures just don’t add up, as Asda now agrees.

“And now, as I pointed out in my letter to the Leader last October, with consumer spending habits changing – the decline of the ‘big shop’ and the rise of online shopping – the major retailers realise the country is awash with supermarkets, and large stores are no longer commercially viable.

“But this isn’t an overnight phenomenon, and if ELDC had done their homework they should have seen it coming. Did they negotiate a break fee to be compensated for Asda pulling out? No, of course they didn’t. The main reason KLS called for a Judicial Review was because ELDC simply turned a deaf ear to calls for an alternative in keeping with the town’s strengths. How else would you explain why the executive committee recommended that the Council accept the Asda bid BEFORE the Scrutiny Report on the sale of the cattle market had been published?

“The election’s coming: do you have confidence in ELDC’s competence and vision? No, I thought not.”

Meanwhile, Jason Garrett - representing pro supermarket campaign group Move Louth Forward - said: “We were disappointed but not surprised with the news, in light of the current climate.

“We do hope, however, that things will proceed once a decision has been reached.

“We feel that ELDC has been pushed into a corner, they could accept a lower offer or risk putting it back on the market and losing more. Obviously we hope that ELDC will be able to strike a deal that will ultimately secure the future of the new and needed Cattle Market.

“We still feel that if a supermarket is to come to louth in the future that this is still the favoured site.”

• What are your thoughts on the issue? Comment below or email louthleader@jpress.co.uk with your views.