A highly anticipated decision on the future of Louth’s Cattle Market will be made tonight (Wednesday), almost four years to the day since the site was first put on the market.
It is hoped that the decision, to be made by all East Lindsey District councillors at their headquarters in Manby this evening, will put the matter the bed after almost half a decade of uncertainty.
The controversial site was first put on the market in 2013, and in July 2014 the District Council accepted a bid from McLagan Investments Ltd (c/o ASDA Stores Ltd), subject to contract and planning. This was one of 15 different bids for the cattle market site.
However, following a review of trading conditions by many major retailers, the bid from Asda was revised in March 2015.
As a result of this revised offer, the sale did not go ahead.
Just four months later, the District Council decided to put the cattle market back on the open market once again.
This marketing exercise concluded in September 2015, and by May 2016 the District Council had selected the ADV Partnership as their ‘preferred bidder’ to bring forward a retail-led proposal.
It was promised that this proposal would aim to ‘generate an increased footfall in the town centre and create new jobs’.
However, in July this year, the District Council decided to launch a consultation asking market users and the public what they would like to happen to the cattle market.
As previously reported, the three options included selling the site for redevelopment and building a replacement on the industrial estate, or selling the site and not providing a replacement facility at all, or withdrawing from the sale process altogether and retaining and refurbishing the existing site.
The public voted 84 per cent in favour of this third option, and last week, the District Council’s Executive Board made ‘option three’ their formal recommendation to the full council ahead of tonight’s crucial meeting.
The question remains as to whether the 55 councillors, from across the district - an area spanning over 680 square miles - will vote in accordance with the ‘will of the people’ and save the cattle market.
Alternatively, could the allure of an extra few million pounds in the District Council’s coffers - which could then, in theory, be spent anywhere in the district - be enough to sway some councillors to vote against the public opinion?
There is no doubt that the public will be relieved when a decision is finally reached tonight - and many will agree with Councillor Adam Grist who recently said that the matter should be resolved ‘for a generation’ to prevent further uncertainty in future.
• Follow us on social media tonight from 6.30pm for live coverage of the meeting.