Dividing line a possibility for car park in Holbeach

TOWN MEETING: About 80 people packed into Holbeach Methodist Meeting Room to talk about the town's market and Boston Road South car park.
TOWN MEETING: About 80 people packed into Holbeach Methodist Meeting Room to talk about the town's market and Boston Road South car park.
  • Future of town economy hotly debated at public meeting in room
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A line of bollards down the middle of Holbeach’s main car park could be the answer to a row about the closure of one of its entrances.

The town’s Boston Road South car park dominated a 90-minute public meeting of residents, traders, parish councillors and district council officials at Holbeach Methodist Church on Monday night.

About 80 people packed into the church’s meeting room to hear arguments about a trial move of Holbeach’s twice-weekly market to the car park and the temporary closure of its entrance in Boston Road South.

Steve Cole, a Holbeach resident for more than 25 years, said: “It’s apparent that very few people were involved in this decision and people need to understand that when they are making such decisions, it’s Holbeach residents who matter.”

The trial of closing Boston Road South’s car park entrance was in response to a health and safety review which showed that drivers were using it as a ”cut-through” towards the A17, while the market move started in January after two traders threatened to quit.

Both trials are due to run until the end of next month, but a compromise move where parish and district councillors could jointly fund the cost of putting bollards down the centre of the car park won support from those at the meeting.

Our health and safety advisor went to review the markets and became aware of the cut-through which she decided was an issue that needed addressing

Emily Spicer, head of environmental services, South Holland District Council

Emily Spicer, head of environmental services for South Holland District Council, said: “Our health and safety advisor went to review the markets and became aware of the cut-through which she decided was an issue that needed addressing.

“The option of having bollards to divide the car park is one we’re actively pursuing.”

The propsects of Boston Road South car park and Holbeach Market were discussed at a public meeting jointly organised by parish and district councillors.

Resident Carolyn Ward said: “I moved here last year and found Holbeach to be a vibrant market town.

“Why should we be giving in to the market traders who threatened to leave and take all the local trade from the town?”

But Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for place at South Holland District Council, said: “I don’t believe anyone thought Holbeach Market would last, in one form or another, in that the traders were threatening to leave and we were struggling to get new ones.”

A final decision on whether one of the entrances to Boston Road South car park will be shut permanently is expected after a report is published in the autumn.

Likewise, the nine-month trial of moving market stalls in Holbeach from High Street to Boston Road South car park will be assessed by South Holland District Council officials once the experiment concludes at the end of September.

Paul Jackson, manager of places at South Holland District Council, said: “We’ve tried something as a pilot, without committing to any result or public money.

“These are two pilots that we’re seeking feedback on because, in our position, we have to work with a variety of people.

“The car park won’t be reopening with the cut-through because we can’t take the risk of an accident happening, now that the risk has been highlighted to us.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of Holbeach Parish Council described Monday night’s public meeting as a chance for those shaping the town to “stop and think”.

Coun Isobel Hutchinson, who chaired the meeting at Holbeach Methodist Church, said: “It was good to see so many people attending the meeting which did what it was meant to do in making South Holland District Council aware that we’re not just going to accept what they say.

“It made the district council stop and thin and make them realise that the people of Holbeach are very passionate about their town and don’t like being dictated to by people who don’t live and work in the town.

Holbeach district councillor Tracey Carter said: “Myself and Isobel felt it was important to arrange the meeting as it gave the residents of Holbeach the opportunity to raise concerns, suggest ideas and also hear the points made by the district council officers.

“Overall, I felt some good discussion took place as all the feedback gained during the trial period is crucial to ensure that decisions are made that suit as many people as possible and so that other options to be considered.”

“Finally, I was glad to see such a good turnout and to see so many residents of Holbeach come to hear the comments at the meeting.

“I really felt it gave people the opportunity to be heard that they really wanted and needed, so I am extremely glad myself and Isobel arranged the meeting.”