Louth Eye
 A guide to Louth in Lincolnshire since 2004

Town Council Round-Up: Inclusive Play, Speed Limits, And History

June 5th 2014

The verges on Horncastle 

Grass verges on Horncastle Road

At the town council meeting of Tuesday, 4th June, Shari-Ann Hubball spoke in the public forum about the need for better some playground provision for disabled children in Louth. "All my child can do is sit and watch. To see children just sitting there and watching the neurotypical is very sad."

Mrs Hubball had briefly spoken about this at the annual town meeting. This time she elaborated on her experiences, saying: "It makes me feel isolated."

Councillor Neil Ward thanked Mrs Hubball for bringing the matter to the council's attention. "This child has a right to participate in these events," he said.

Difficulty accessing playground equipment is not a rare occurrence. Mrs Hubball revealed that she had forty statements from the parents of disabled children.

Jackie Featherstone said "I find it a shame that the outdoor activity centre has been turned down." She was referring to Keep Louth Special's plans for redeveloping the cattle market, which are on hold since the ELDC executive opted to recommend the site's sale. Speaking on the topic of disability, Mrs Featherstone said: "You have to keep fighting for your rights."

Cattle market reaction

The Mayor, Andrew Leonard, also made some remarks about ELDC's cattle market decision. "I am not happy," he said. He expressed concerns about the process of the decision-making, saying: "Scrutiny has not been finished."

Councillor Andrew Austin mentioned the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, which had been granted a judicial review in the High Court "on the basis of pre-determination."

It does seem odd for the ELDC executive to make a recommendation before the council have had the chance to consider all of the angles in this debate.

Brown's Panorama

The Mayor noted that the St James' church had made a request to display Brown's Panorama. Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders was concerned "because of the insurance problems there."

However, the Clerk, Linda Blankley, reported that the church would not be unhappy if the Panorama wasn't in Louth for the celebration of the spire's 500th anniversary, "because they have events throughout the year."

At the previous town council meeting the timing of the loan of this painting for Lincolnshire's Great Exhibition in 2015 had been a topic of debate, because it clashed with the spire celebrations.

Parking enforcement

Grumbling about on-street parking enforcement has become a tradition at council meetings since the new regime was introduced. "It's complicated and it's putting people off coming to Louth," the Mayor said.

"It has to be self-funding," Councillor James Pocklington pointed out. He criticised the way enforcement officers are incentivised to hand out tickets, but said: "There isn't the funding to pay people to do it just as a service."

"We should have a review of the lines in the town," Councillor Makinson-Sanders suggested.

Councillor Austin cited a method of parking validation used in the USA, whereby shop owners issue stamps to give people permission to park. "This could be dealt with so, so easily by the businesses," he said.

Child's play

Returning to the topic of children's play areas, the Mayor said that when play equipment breaks "it is removed and not replaced" by ELDC.

Councillor Eileen Ballard was scathing about ELDC's attitude to play equipment. "They did the same thing years ago," she said. "We fought them. If we say it can't be replaced we are giving in... It is every child's right to be able to play."

Councillor Margaret Ottaway encouraged Mrs Hubble and the parents of disabled children to form a charity. "I think there's nothing against a child watching other children play," she commented.

Councillor Laura Stephenson said: "If a child can only watch, it's not really very fair." She proposed that the town council form a working group to help residents form a charity and obtain funding.

There was some discussion of how the district council or other bodies might be able to fund improvements in play provision. Councillor Makinson-Sanders had researched companies that provide play equipment, and she spoke about Sutcliffe Play, which specialises in inclusive playground equipment. She was also sympathetic to the constraints on parents when it comes to organising and applying for funding. "If you've got disabled children, it's hard to find the time," she said.

Councillor Ballard urged people not to let ELDC off the hook. "If ELDC don't replace their equipment there will be no play areas for anybody," she said.

The council voted in favour of Councillor Stephenson's proposal to form a working group. It was a curious vote, with only seven of the councillors (all but one of them Labour, I think) voting in favour, and everyone else abstaining. It's revealing how voting in council can divide on party lines, even on something that's apparently uncontroversial. Everything's political.

I hope ELDC gets its act together and properly funds inclusive play areas in Louth. It can be difficult enough dealing with a child with special needs. To then learn that you're expected to become a fundraiser and campaigner every time your child needs something that other children and their parents take for granted feels like a kick in the teeth when you're down.

Speed limits

The council discussed extending the 30mph speed limit on London Road to beyond The Pavilion. The Mayor reported that Highways "consider it a semi-rural location". The Clerk added that Highways are not planning on reviewing any individual speed limits because they are in the process of creating a new policy on speed.

"It's a disgrace that LCC can faff about like they do," Councillor Ottaway said.

"If the planning applications keep coming in it's not going to be semi-rural for very long," Councillor Stephenson said.

The council resolved to write to the Road Safety Partnership to communicate their concerns.

Ants and Nats, verges, and charters

The council voted to support an application for business rate relief by the Louth Antiquarians and Naturalists for the museum on Broadbank. "The museum is an asset to the town," Councillor Sue Locking said.

Councillor Makinson-Sanders then spoke about the state of Louth's grass verges, saying: "In town the cutting is very poor. It looks scruffy." She singled out Halfpenny Lane, saying: "The nettles are awful there." Councillor Makinson-Sanders described the verges on Horncastle Road as "appalling."

Grass verges are the responsibility of LCC Highways, whilst ELDC carries out cutting in the parks and play areas it runs as well as the Railway Walk.

Finally, the council voted to mount the town's charters, using money donated by the Mayor from the travel allowance that he is not claiming.

"I think it's a very, very good idea," Councillor Locking said. "It's a great shame they are not on display for the public."

It will be interesting to see what's in the charters, and I think history buffs will have a lot to look forward to.

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