Cattle market a part of town’s soul

EDITOR – Barry West (letters January 19) likes everything about Louth. Unfortunately, his proposal to move the cattle market elsewhere and bring in a supermarket on the site would do nothing to help the town he professes to love.

Large out-of-town or edge-of-town supermarkets destroy market towns by drawing shoppers away from all the businesses in the centre.

You can see this in Sleaford, a town about the size of Louth which used to have a thriving centre until it got ringed by large supermarkets.

Now everyone drives to these and there’s little business for the town centre. It has happened in Brigg, in Market Rasen and hundreds of other towns across the country (we have a list on our website). Even Doncaster, with its large central market hall, isn’t thriving quite like it used to because of the business drawn away by big supermarkets.

This process in which communities are hollowed out and destroyed is a well-known phenomenon, which is why national planning rules as well as ELDC policy stipulate that development should take place in town centres. It isn’t particularly about saving individual stores, but about preserving character and distinctiveness, and a vibrant economy.

Louth has a great future as a food town and a tourist attraction within the region, and is already firmly on the national map for the quality of its food offering.

There are only a fraction of the vacant shops here that you will find in Hull or Grimsby, places which have many supermarkets. So where’s the prosperity they promised?

Clone towns stuffed with national chains and boarded-up shops are of no interest to visitors. Our economic future is in being different.

However, visitors alone aren’t sufficient to keep the town thriving. Those who live here need to use the local food shops, to help sustain the hundreds of jobs already here, and the network of businesses and farmers which supply them.

This is what keeps the town prosperous, and our community cohesive.

Keep Louth Special collected 5,300 signatures to retain the cattle market – the last in Lincolnshire. A huge vote of confidence by Louth residents in their own town and its independent future.

I’ve often heard those who oppose us list all the shops in Grimsby that they use, and would like to see here. But they should reflect that if they succeed they will get more than they bargained for: Grimsby’s unemployment, its bleak and soulless town centre and its falling property values too.

Nick Louth

Keep Louth Special