UK council slammed for spending £60k on US-style parklets which look like 'naff sun loungers'

A cash-strapped council has been slammed for spending tens of thousands of pounds on US-style parklets which look like 'naff sun loungers on a random bit of decking'.

The small seating areas, believed to have cost £60,000, are the first of their kind in the UK to be installed in the historic market town in Louth, Lincs.

Lincolnshire County Council erected the brightly-coloured wooden seating and decking as part of a scheme to encourage people to spend more time in the town.

But many residents have blasted the move as a 'waste of taxpayers cash' and a 'dangerous eyesore' as they stick out onto a busy main road.

Others said they were 'baffled' by the 'sun lounger on some random decking' which was 'not in keeping' with the town's Georgian architecture.

The seating platforms are a common sight across the United States and originated in San Francisco where parking spaces are transformed into 'vibrant community spaces'.

But they have faced strong opposition from locals living in Louth who have accused the council of 'losing the plot' and branded them 'hideous' and 'a joke'.

Taxi driver Harry Bolton, 48, of Louth, said: "Everybody is just gobsmacked at how ridiculously bad they look. It's a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

"But on top of that they cannot be safe. They are sticking out into one of the busiest roads in the town and there's no protection from traffic.

"Not only that, who wants to lie on a wooden sunlounger in the middle of a town centre while inhaling fumes from passing traffic?

"I haven't picked up one passenger who thinks they are a good idea. The council are completely out of touch with what people want.

"This is not the USA, we are a historic Georgian town in Britain and they just look rubbish and are not in keeping with the area.

"And that's before you take into consideration the safety issues. Somebody could get seriously hurt or worse."

The move also faced opposition from councillors who said the “modern seating” clashes with the strict rules within Louth’s Conservation Area.

A recent public meeting saw around 250 people vote almost unanimously in favour of calling on the council to halt the scheme – which aims to promote cycling and walking.

Louth Town and District Councillor Andrew Leonard said: “This latest initiative really is the last straw, who on earth wants to sit by a roadside with cars, vans, buses and delivery vehicles passing within feet?

“The county council has failed to listen to what the public want for their town centre and are completely out of touch.”

Other members of the public flooded community pages on social media with negative feedback.

Coffee shop owner Kerry Ashby said: “I’m stuck for words! Except joke, not in keeping with Georgian conservation order, what a waste of taxpayers' money , hideous."

Sophie Vines wrote: "Hmm, not at all convinced by this Louth Town Council. A sun lounger on some random decking in the middle of a historic market town… #baffled"

Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways at the authority, said they were trialling different options as part of the government-backed Active Travel Scheme.

He said: "The early signs from people in the town who interacted with us were that, on the whole, the parklets are a good idea and will be used as intended.

"There's clearly a lot of support in Louth, and across Lincolnshire, for exploring different ways of using our high streets and moving about them.

"The government has provided this money to experiment with new ideas and approaches to try and do things better.

“These are the latest elements on what is the ongoing trial period for a sustainable future for the market town.

"We are trying various options to see which works best to encourage people to dwell for longer and fully appreciate and use the businesses and services that Louth has to offer.

“We understand that these parklets are somewhat controversial but whilst our installation was happening, we experienced first-hand a pretty even split of ideas and support about the scheme as a whole and the parklets in particular.

“Throughout the installation we had several groups of people using the parklets as soon as they were able to, with some returning to them throughout the evening to make the most of having somewhere to sit and rest before continuing their night out in the town.

“We remain open to all feedback on not only this element but the entire 18-month-long trial scheme for Louth.

"As it is a trial, we know that elements of it are very fluid and we are constantly reviewing what works and what needs a tweak here and there.”