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2012 Louth Town Meeting

April 18th 2012

Sessions House

Sessions House

On Tuesday 17th April the annual Louth Town Meeting took place at Sessions House. The Mayor Brian Burnett gave a presentation on the work of the council over the past year, and it's plans for next year. He mentioned that the coroner's court will return to Sessions House next month, and the town will be getting a new Mayor's Serjeant as Sandra Dykes steps down in favour of Mr Barham. The Town Clerk, Linda Blankley, then took over with a presentation on council finances and the impact of the government's new localism bill.

Where The Money Goes

The town council's net expenditure in 2011/12 was £188409. Significant costs were:
  • £30,000 towards Hubbards Hills
  • £33,000 on the cemetery
  • £20,000 on loan repayments for the Sessions House building
  • £6669 on Christmas
  • £3575 on CCTV

Localism

The Localism Act brings changes to local government that come into force from April 2012. It affects five key areas.
  1. Community rights. This gives community organisations more of a chance to take over important assets, such as libraries or community centres, if they come up for sale or change hands. The council will have to maintain a list of such assets, as nominated by the people of Louth.

  2. Neighbourhood planning. The Act brings in new rights for communities to shape a neighbourhood plan which says where new homes and businesses should go, and how they should look. When this is drawn up we will be able to vote on it in a referendum (which seems a bit of an extravagant expense for what is just a planning document.)

  3. Housing. More decisions about housing will be taken locally, allowing councils to decide how best to help homeless people, manage waiting lists, and so on.

  4. Empowering cities. I'll skip this one.

  5. The general power of competence. This is about giving local councils more power to do the same things an individual can do, without having to refer everything back to a higher authority to ask for permission. This means that they can buy a shop, for instance, or commission works of art for public display, if that's the sort of thing their electorate want.

After this presentation the floor was opened to questions from the public. Mr Shaw of Mount Pleasant Residents' Association stepped forward to comment on Sainsbury's application to take over the former Brown's garage site on Newmarket, which he branded "dangerous" due to the chaotic parking provisions and the proposals to unload lorries at Watts Lane. Sainsburys claim that "the area is badly supplied by convenience stores", but Mr Shaw pointed out there are three nearby, with one only 20 metres away.

Louth is Britain’s Favourite Market Town, Say Ludensians

It's all change at Louth Town Partnership, as Samantha Phillips takes over from Alison Hall as the new town manager. She didn't make a presentation at the town meeting, having been only five days in the job, but she has been working to promote the town in other ways, and the partnership have issued the following press release:

Louth has the honour of being shortlisted by the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards in the Britain’s Favourite Market Town category and it is now over to the public across the country to vote for their favourite. BBC Countryfile Magazine has formed 12 categories and asked its panel of experts to create a shortlist in each. Louth has been shortlisted in the Britain’s Favourite Market Town category and the Louth Town Partnership is keen to encourage people to vote for the town to win. Town Partnership Chairman, Peter Atterby is excited by the potential of winning this award; “Louth is a very special Market Town and it is time we achieved more national recognition for our blend of successful, vibrant markets alongside many independent retailers and specialist local food shops, attracting a wide range of residents and visitors alike. “Winning the Award for Britain’s Favourite Market Town would be a huge benefit to Louth; firmly putting the town on the map as tourist destination, which would be a real boost to the town’s sustainability as a special Market Town.”

It doesn't seem that long since we were being asked to vote for Lincolnshire as the greatest food county, or for the prettiest town, or whatever. I hate to be the one to sound a note of scepticism about these awards, but I can't help myself so I'm going to anyway. They don't seem scientifically rigorous. So rather than getting an objective view of which town the best at whatever, all you get is who has the most active tourist promotion, and/or where are the readers of that publication more likely to come from. In short, these things are great for promoting the organisation running the award, but they don't tell us much about the best places to visit. I have my doubts that they have much influence on tourism as well, but things like this are notoriously difficult to measure.

I prefer to see an emphasis on the tangible changes that make the town a great place to visit, such as the floral displays encouraged by the Lovely Louth competition and events like Wolds Words and the Victorian Fayre. But you don't have to agree with me. If you think voting in the Countryfile awards is a good way to spread awareness of our town you can turn to page 58 in the April edition of the BBC Countryfile Magazine, email awards@countryfile.com or visit their website. Voting is open until June 1. Votes will be entered into a prize draw to win a two night break in Devon.



 


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