Breaking: ELDC Executive Board vote to recommend sale of Cattle Market site

ELDC headquarters at Manby
ELDC headquarters at Manby

At this morning’s meeting of East Lindsey District Council’s executive board, members unanimously voted to recommend this course of action to a meeting the full council on July 23.

A proviso is that an alternative location will be found for a more modern cattle market elsewhere in the town.

Portfolio holder for finance Coun John Upsall said the authority had a duty to council taxpayers to make best use of its assets.

“The existing market is under-utilised and only operates on a Thursday,” he declared.

“The buildings are in poor condition and capital would be required to bring the premises up to modern standards.”

Coun Adam Grist said he was “broadly comfortable” with the proposal though he acknowledged the subject was “contentious” and the debate would continue to rage both inside and outside the council.

“This is just one milestone in a long and complicated journey,” he observed.

It emerged that no fewer than 15 firms had submitted bids by the deadline of March 21 this year.

These were whittled down to a shortlist of six, whose representatives were interviewed by chief executive Stuart Davy and other senior officers on April 28 and May 7.

One “clear” favourite has come to the top of the pile, but its identity and its proposals have been kept top secret by the ELDC executive. The information has even been withheld from a scrutiny panel that is currently investigating the site’s future.

This has sparked controversy, with Coun Fiona Martin saying it was the first time in her 27 years on the authority that access to information had been denied to members.

Similar disquiet was sounded by Coun Terry Knowles who complained that he and colleagues were “not being kept in the loop on an issue that would affect the lives and aspirations of many people in Louth.”

He continued: “It is imperative that all councillors are kept fully informed before they make a decision at next month’s meeting.”

Council leader Coun Doreen Stephenson confirmed this information would be made available in due course, though she did not give date.

There has been speculation that ELDC could receive a windfall of up to £12 million from sale of the site, though this is unconfirmed.

Coun Sandra Harrison declared a personal interest because family members are livestock farmers whom, she said, were “concerned” about what the future might hold in store.

She said that it was “imperative” that a new site was operational before any demise of the existing market.

However, the meeting noted that any developments, both at the current site and any new location, would be subject to planning consent.