Bill Nicholson has it all wrong when he claims that Keep Louth Special (KLS) speaks for only ‘the few independent shops in the town’ (Sale of Cattle Market is right, June 11).
In case he hasn’t noticed, Louth is stuffed with independent shops, and is a rare high street success story, bringing in shoppers from across the county and far beyond. Move Louth Forward (MLF), who he quotes as the majority view in the debate, are far from it. Though they claim 1,600 online members they couldn’t raise more than ten members for their own public meeting in April, which we attended. Within a fortnight, the group had split, though the rancourous online name-calling continues.
By contrast, when KLS went to the public meeting last year organised by Louth Town Council to stop the sale of the cattle market, there were well over a hundred attendees: farmers, shoppers, residents, and many of those employed by local shops. The truth is that every single independent poll for the last seven years has shown that the people of Louth oppose the arrival of a new supermarket on that site. Here are the details:
1) Louth Town Plan 2007/8 postal consultation. Of 1327 respondents. 81.7% wanted to retain the cattle market on its current site. Only 14%, when asked what Louth really needed, said a larger/better supermarket. Are shopping facilities adequate to purchase all your daily needs? 61% said yes.
2) ELDC’s own retail report, commissioned from Nathaniel Litchfield in 2012, had a telephone survey of 250 Louth residents in which 49.9% did not want a new supermarket, 35% did and 11% don’t know.
3) Louth Eye poll in February this year: Does Louth need another big supermarket: No 72%, yes 15% (100 polled.
Last month KLS handed in to ELDC a petition of 4,300 signatures opposing the sale. Unlike the similar one we collected in 2007/8, this one keys into localism legislation.
It entitles us to a local referendum on an issue that is crucial to the town’s survival. If MLF believes it has the majority opinion, why does it not join with us in demanding that the people of Louth have their say? We have asked them before – and they have never answered. Could it possibly be that they think they might lose?
While some shoppers choose to shop for food in Grimsby or elsewhere, the main contention of MLF, that many Louth shoppers have to do this, is puzzling.
This was, after all, a group formed on the Internet, yet apparently unaware that anyone online can have all the groceries they want delivered in bulk to their door for free.
The supermarket then, is an answer to a problem which doesn’t exist.
Yet the destruction that the arrival of large, edge-of-town supermarkets wreak upon Britain’s towns and their independent shops is very well documented.
Keep Louth Special