Councillors speak out on Hubbard's Hills ahead of town council meeting

A group of town councillors have struck a conciliatory tone ahead of tomorrow night's council meeting (January 19), regarding funding contributions and scrutiny relating to Hubbard's Hills.

The Sessions House, in Eastgate, where the town council hold their meetings.

Tomorrow's meeting will see the subject of Hubbard's Hills discussed in closed session, and councillors will subsequently vote on whether to approve the Governance & Finance Committee's recommendation regarding the town council's precept request for 2021/22.

At the aforementioned committee meeting, it was recommended that the Hubbard's Hills Trust should receive £35,000 - rather than the requested sum of £45,000 - in the financial year ahead. The Trust subsequently threatened the possibility of legal action after claiming that some councillors provided "misleading facts" during the meeting, and that the council would be in "breach of contract".

A statement sent to this newspaper today (Monday), on behalf of a group of ten town councillors, says: "Louth Town Council holds the Freehold of Hubbard Hills for the enjoyment and pleasure of the people of Louth. We fully support the trustees in their efforts to preserve one of our towns greatest assets.

"We acknowledge that their hard work and dedication is part of what makes Hubbard’s Hills so special.

"In fact, people travel far and wide to enjoy the rural setting. We recognise that whilst we want the Hills to be a desirable place to visit, it also poses a headache to the trust with regards to maintenance. This was a big concern in 2020 when record numbers of visitors flocked to the Hills.

"As councillors, we are responsible for questioning and justifying the expenses presented by the Trust. This allows us to plan expenditure into the budget and to scrutinise costs to ensure the people of Louth are getting good value for their council tax precept."

The statement claims that councillors "have not received a full and detailed explanation as to how the budgeted figures were arrived at", and continues: "Moving forward, we are hoping to work with the trustees more closely to ensure full transparency and accountability, which will in turn protect the Trust and Hubbard's Hills.

"We are keen supporters of Hubbard's Hills and we want to make sure that the Town Council continues to provide the resources required for its general upkeep so it may be enjoyed for generations.

"There will be a meeting on Tuesday 19th January where these points will be discussed, though due to sensitivity it’s expected to be conducted in closed session. It will then be brought back to a future meeting so the town can be updated.

"We hope that during this meeting we can explore the existing contract and make sure it fully represents the town and protects our greatest asset. We also hope to understand the exact expenditure of Hubbard’s Hills so we are able to make informed decisions regarding budget allocation."

The statement, provided by Councillor Hannah Filer, is also signed by Councillors Jeremy Baskett, Maurice Bellwood, Lynne Cooney, Alex Cox, David Ford, Jason Garrett, David Hall, Kevin Norman and Julia Simmons.

• At the meeting tomorrow, the council will receive the recommendation of an overall precept request of £275,668 for 2021/22, which is a decrease of 12.69% compared to last year's figures. If approved, this will equate to an annual cost of £53.54 (which is a weekly cost of £1.03) for an average 'Band D' property. This figure will form part of a Louth household's overall Council Tax bill, alongside the costs they must also pay towards Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire.