A Leeds High Court judge has rejected Keep Louth Special’s application for a judicial review into the decision to sell the Louth Cattle Market site to Asda, and has awarded East Lindsey District Council £2,000 in costs.
Keep Louth Special, a community interest company, was supported by Louth Town Council in their bid for a judicial review on the basis that they believe ELDC’s decision-making process was flawed.
Keep Louth Special have paid the £2,000 costs to ELDC, and have not asked Louth Town Council for a contribution.
ELDC’s Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property, Councillor John Upsall, said: “The council welcomes the decision of the High Court to reject the application for Judicial Review.
“From the outset the council has followed a clear, fair and transparent process in relation to the sale of the site and the High Court’s decision confirms that we have acted properly.
“We have recently appointed architects to start looking in detail at what a replacement livestock market, with the flexibility for other uses on non-market days, might look like.
“Although Asda hasn’t secured planning consent, should they do so, the council has been clear that the new livestock market will be up and running before the existing site ceases to operate as we know this continuity will be important to the farming community.”
Following the High Court’s decision to reject the judicial review application, Keep Louth Special’s Chairman Alan Mumby said: “This is a clear demonstration that Localism legislation is a sham.
“Whether it is putting up hundreds of houses on greenfield sites against the wishes of the local population, or selling the last cattle market in Lincolnshire in the teeth of a petition signed by thousands of people, do not expect the powers that be to listen. Forget democracy: money talks louder.
“The only weapon we have against this is the ballot box. Let’s hope that next May the electorate of Louth pass judgment on ELDC’s short-sighted, money-grabbing strategy.
“Only time will tell whether ELDC gets ‘best value’ from this sale.”
Mr Mumby added: “Of course, this is still a long way from being a done deal. One battle lost, but we owe it to the many thousands of local people who have supported us to continue the campaign.
“We turn now to planning, which is an arena in which we will be better able to expose the reasons why a large supermarket on that site would be bad for the long term economic prosperity of the town.”
Mayor of Louth, Andrew Leonard, gave his personal view on the matter earlier this week, and said: “Personally, I am very disappointed by this decision as are many other people in the town. However, a decision by the Judge has been made and Louth will have to live with the consequences.
“The Keep Louth Special group have put a tremendous amount of work in behind the scenes for Louth, working with the town council, so deserve recognition for all the voluntary time they have given.
“I am sure that the public will remember that ELDC would have probably voted on the sale a long while ago, had the Town Council not forced the District Council into asking the public for their thoughts. Regrettably however, in my opinion that only turned out to be window dressing for the benefit of the public as i believe that the decision had already been made some years ago, hence the Judicial review.
“The one glimmer of hope is that supermarket policy is changing daily and bigger supermarkets are going out of fashion. Certainly planning has not even been granted to them yet, so who knows what the future may hold.
“Next year’s elections will allow the public to act as judge and jury over the District Council’s decision-making process on this and other subjects, such as parking and charging for green waste.
“The beauty of the public deciding is that no party leader can tell them how to vote. That is why I am an independent councillor so I can speak freely on what I believe is right.
“Certainly red or blue rosette wearers who sealed this sale of the Livestock Market will have a lot of explaining to do next May when they are knocking on doors in and around Louth asking for the public’s vote.”
Meanwhile, pro-supermarket campaign group Move Louth Forward were “very pleased” with the rejection of the judicial review application.
Spokesperson Jason Garrett said: “We have fully supported East Lindsey District Council’s decision to sell the cattle market site from the outset.
“We believe this to be the best site for a supermarket with the least impact on the town centre, and also the best option for securing the future of a livestock market in Louth.
“We hope Louth Town Council and the Mayor can move on from this. Many have called for his resignation over his actions throughout this saga, which at times have been questionable.
“We feel that in the future, the Council must be more proactive in engaging with the community over issues like this. The Council must also be more open and transparent in its dealings, so that it is seen to be fair and representative of all.
“Move Louth Forward are strong believers in progression and development. If a developer wants to come to our area then it should be to the benefit of the community as a whole.
“Now is the time to move on, and Louth Town Council must make the most of this situation by working with East Lindsey District Council and the developer through the planning process to secure and implement some strong Section 106 agreements that will be of benefit to the town and the existing retail area.”