The spending of £15,000 on counting people attending events in Spalding and Holbeach has been defended.
South Holland District Council officers have agreed to spend the money granted as part of around £85,000 funding provided by the government’s Welcome Back fund.
What the council describes as ‘a local data company’ will “install, manage and monitor four footfall counters for a three-year period that will be used in commercial centres in the two towns” the authority states.
The spend came up at Holbeach Parish Council’s recent meeting which agreed to ask the council about the outlay.
Coun Sophie Hutchinson said: “Given I’m a member of the steering group I was not aware of it and neither was the parish council. It’s quite a significant chunk of the £84,587 we’ve been given.”
She continued: “As a town we’ve also had a lot of time and money spent on the transport strategy, and from the public’s perception they can’t see any tangible effects from either.
“Given the lack of tangible change from previous attempts like this, my question was how is this actually going to benefit the town, especially as the fund is designed to encourage people back to the high street and I can’t see how a footfall counter does that.
“I’m sure if the public and steering group and parish council were consulted on this, they would suggest there are better things to be spending £15,000 on.
“It seems the purpose of these counters is to measure the impact of changes the council is putting in place over the next few years, to see what improvements they’ve made. I would suggest that visiting the town regularly and surveying members of the public would do this just as well and is free.”
Coun Nick Worth is overseeing the project.
“We’ve not done a footfall survey,” he said. “We’ve done a retail study but that’s more about where people go to do their shopping.
“With the new study we’ll be getting ready to see how many people are attracted to towns by other things such as events we want to put on.
“At the moment we’ll put an event on and have no idea if it makes a difference in the town centre other than anecdotally. But if we can demonstrate what footfall we have we can act on that for future events and it can be used to help us in bids to attract future funding.
“It’s not perfect but there’s lots of positives and so I think it’s quite a good investment.”