The decision by supermarket chain Asda to backtrack on its proposed purchase of the 5.5-acre Louth Cattle Market site put the cat among the pigeons at East Lindsey District Council yesterday (July 14).
At a meeting of the Executive Board, two non-members expressed concern at how the issue was being progressed.
Coun Terry Knowles said: “We should re-examine the whole premise of why we have put up the site for sale.”
And Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders warned: “We’re in the dark about so much.
“It will be pretty stupid if we simply plonk a white elephant from one part of the town to another.
“It is important to have regard for the interests of Louth – the town where I was born and brought up - and these do not necessarily coincide with those of ELDC.”
Despite the duo’s misgivings, the board unanimously resolved to put the controversial site back up for grabs.
The decision will cost the authority £34,000, and it has decided to give the contract straight back to Chase & Partners – the same firm which, for a fee of £54,000, carried out the initial marketing exercise
Asda have indicated that they might submit a new offer, but at a lower figure than the one which they submitted before.
However, they risk being outbid either by another supermarket chain or by another developer, possibly a deep-pocketed housebuilder.
Urging re-marketing of the site, Portfolio Holder for Finance Coun Nick Guyatt insisted: “It is absolutely right to offer the site to other developers – and we need to do it properly from the outset.”
Portfolio Holder for Market Towns, Coun Adam Grist, agreed and said: “We need to make an informed decision.”
In response to Coun Knowles’ concerns, Council Leader Coun Craig Leyland said the authority would retain the option not to sell the site once the bids have been evaluated.
It is hoped the process will be completed before the end of the current calendar year.