Shoppers and business owners have criticised temporary tarmac repairs to an iconic cobblestone street in Lincoln as “really naff”. Various damaged cobbles along Bailgate, near Lincoln Cathedral, have been temporarily paved over with tarmac until permanent fillings can be completed, though some worry it undermines the historic value of the area.
However, Lincolnshire County Council says the repairs will eventually match the original stone and would only be obvious to those “with a very keen eye”. Shelley Williams at The Whisky Shop said she expects the Bailgate to be “maintained to a standard of that old town look” the area is known for, and feels temporarily repairing these problems only creates more financial headaches in the long term.
She said: “When patches of tarmac do go in, it looks really naff. The roads are bad all over Lincolnshire, but what I don’t understand is that temporary repairs still cost money, so surely the council can source these blocks or stones elsewhere?
“The council makes the point of budget cuts, but surely they know what they have to budget for? It’s unsightly and doesn’t draw people in, when we’ve already lost revenue and visitors from the Christmas market being cancelled.” Alex Capper, the assistant manager at Lincoln Eco Pantry, said she had seen the same spot filled in temporarily twice before.
She added: “It would be nice if they could just pick a day to close the road off and get it all done because it just makes the whole street look unfinished, and I would say it’s one of the prettiest streets in Lincoln.” Liz Cordeaux, from the nearby Artisan Maker, said while the cobbled road has faced a lot of “wear and tear” from delivery lorries and cars, that does not excuse how it looks.
She added: “Just because it’s a beautiful area doesn’t mean there doesn’t need to be any improvement works to it. The roads still have to be fit for purpose.” Similar repairs made to the cobbles outside of Lincoln Cathedral were likewise received poorly, labelled a “real eyesore” by former Lincoln mayor and ex-councillor Rosanne Kirk.
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire County Council said that safety was a priority in making repairs. He said: “When damage occurs on the road or path of one of Lincoln’s heritage sites, or at a location of significant historical beauty, there are two things to consider: is the area safe to use, and how to make repairs that match in with the materials that have been in place for, sometimes, hundreds of years.
He added: “That explains why you might see a patch of tarmac that’s been laid in an area of cobbles or setts. We’ve put that down because without it there would be a big hole edged by stone blocks that would be unstable. We simply couldn’t leave such an area alone as it would be unsafe to walk or drive on without suffering an injury or causing more damage.”
Though the council tries to install permanent fillings “straight away,” that’s not always the case. The spokesperson added: “It’s not a quick job — parts of it take quite a while to get right — but when complete, and after a ‘weathering in’ period for the colours to age and match the original stone, only those with a very keen eye should be able to see where the damaged had occurred at all.”