‘No’ decision on St Lawrence Street closure is a ‘travesty’

Councillors in Horncastle have reacted furiously to Lincolnshire County Council’s refusal to support calls to ban traffic from St Lawrence Street.
Coun Richard Barker highlights safety issues on St Lawrence Street -  something the  County Council disputesCoun Richard Barker highlights safety issues on St Lawrence Street -  something the  County Council disputes
Coun Richard Barker highlights safety issues on St Lawrence Street - something the County Council disputes

Town councillors have been campaigning for the closure for months, saying it would regenerate the town, attract more tourists and lead to the development of a street cafe culture.

They say businesses and residents were behind the idea.

After months of deadlock, hopes of a pedestrian-only scheme rose last month following a meeting between the town council’s Highways Work Group and Highways officers, including Richard Fenwick.

Councillors say they understood there were three options for closing the road and clerk Amanda Bushell wrote to Mr Fenwick, outlining the town council’s preference.

Now, Mr Fenwick has replied via an email which has been seen by the Horncastle News.

In it, Mr Fenwick says he apologises if he gave the impression in the meeting that the County Council would pursue the scheme.

He adds: “I am very sorry to say that having escalated this through the hierarchy of decision making within Highways, it has been agreed at executive level that LCC will not be using its resources to progress any closure of St Lawrence Street at this time.”

The email goes on to state East Lindsey District Council has also expressed concern over problems with access to the Market Place.

Mr Fenwick adds: “I realise this will be disappointing due to the desires of the Town Council, however we have to make the final decision as the Highways Authority.”

He adds the County Council is considering other suggestions for Horncastle and adds the town’s county councillor Bill Aron will continue to ‘help the Working Group take them forward.’

Mr Fenwick adds: “He has already suggested the proposal for a Louth Road crossing and Russell Crockford (Highways officer) is preparing a bid to formally explore the feasibility of this.”

Town councillor Alan Lockwood slammed the County Council and described the email as a ‘travesty’ .

“It is further proof that our County Council and District Council has no wish to help the regeneration of Horncastle.

“He (Mr Fenwick) has obviously been told by his masters to refuse our request and I fully believe that those masters consider us a nuisance because we fight for our town.

“Any excuse is used to refuse our request and shows the inflexibility of the highways managers.

“In addition, the lack of support from ELDC using the market as an excuse reflects how they don’t work for the town but themselves. It is time we took the market back from the district and ran it ourselves. “

Coun Richard Barker also condemned the County Council and said he had written to MP Victoria Atkins, calling on her to investigate what he said was a ‘flawed’ decision.

He said: “Horncastle needs this closure to help businesses in the area and develop the café culture in the town centre.”

The refusal is likely to add to the pressure on Coun Aron, who has been criticised for failing to support the closure; allegations he refutes .

He insists his track record shows he is working hard for the town (see pages 12 & 13).

Coun Aron was elected on a Conservative ticket, but Coun Lockwood claims the party could struggle to retain their control of the ward in this May’s local elections.

Ironically, Coun Aron will be standing as an independent, after losing out to William Grey in the process to elect a Tory candidate.