Louth Cattle Market back up for grabs

ELDC HQ - Tedder Hall, Manby ENGEMN00120140114105907
ELDC HQ - Tedder Hall, Manby ENGEMN00120140114105907

The decision by supermarket chain Asda to backtrack on its proposed purchase of the Louth Cattle Market has ended up costing East Lindsey taxpayers £34,000.

At a meeting of the executive board on July 14, two non-members expressed concerns.

Coun Terry Knowles said: “We should re-examine the whole premise of why we have put up the site for sale.”

Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders added: “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 has indicated it might submit a new offer, but at a lower figure than the one it submitted before.

However, it risks 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.”

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.

Louth Town Council discussed the issue at its meeting last Tuesday.

Coun Andrew Leonard said: “The district council might wish to look at being a little bit more savvy in 
respect of some form of a surety bond being paid once the highest bidder is selected next time, which will be non-refundable and therefore if they decide to drop out again they would cover their costs.”

Otherwise, he added, history could repeat itself and “we could be back to square one again” in a year’s time if a surety bond is not 
put in place.

Coun Leonard added the marketing process had cost ratepayers a substantial amount of money, while Asda got away “scot free” with a chance to re-bid at a 
lesser price.