A call to arms has been made for the people of Louth to fight to save the town’s Cattle Market, which is reported to be worth up to £10 million.
Around 80 people attended a public meeting held by Louth Town Council at the British Legion Hall on Monday night which aimed to give them a say on East Lindsey District Council’s decision to seek ‘expert advice’ over whether to cash in on the Newmarket site.
Figures called on the public to launch campaigns to stop the town’s ‘family silver’ being sold to a supermarket.
Louth resident Geoff Scarffe told the meeting: “If we lose the Cattle Market it will be a bigger loss than the railway.”
Alan Mumby, of Keep Louth Special, said a large supermarket would turn Louth into ‘another Market Rasen’, a view echoed by the NFU’s Nicholas Pope, who warned that ‘the fight we have is huge’.
Coun George Horton urged people to come up with ideas to make the current site more viable. They included a climbing wall, agricultural shops, car boots and a hotel.
But ex-mayor Jill Makinson-Sanders was less optimistic. “I think East Lindsey knows exactly where this is going,” she said.
“This is about how they are going to market the site.”
Louth is covered by a Royal Charter which promises a cattle market for the town, but Coun Sue Locking claimed the charter would allow one to be sited in a surrounding village.
ELDC has refuted this, and insists a new market would be built within the town itself.
Nick Louth, also of Keep Louth Special, said he feared ELDC would not listen unless there was a groundswell of public opposition to the sale.
“It’s important we don’t let this impetus dissipate,” he said.
A Newmarket resident claimed she could not get planning permission for a satellite dish, and said building a supermarket near her home would be ‘double standards’.
District councillor Daniel Simpson said: “The people have to make the council hold an inquiry. If you don’t you will not be able to have your say.”
Coun John Upsall said ELDC was aware of Louth’s ‘wonderful and unique character’ and said the Chase and Partners assessment will advise the best approach should it decide to sell the site.
He told the Leader: “Whilst the council is aware that supermarkets are interested in coming to the Louth area, and have expressed an interest in this site, the decision on what is acceptable for the site in planning terms would ultimately be down to the planning process, which provides an opportunity for the 16,000 people living in Louth and interested parties to have their say on future development.
“I have already given a commitment that if the council agrees to dispose of this site and if planning permission were secured, the council would look to provide a replacement Cattle Market in the Louth area that will also have wider uses on more days of the week.”