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Red Lion Square 'tarmac versus cobbles' debate continues

A town group has outlined its answer to Stamford's 'cobbles versus tarmac' debate - but others argue they are just a noisy minority.

Earlier this month the town council's plans to remove the Yorkstone cobbles from Red Lion Square caused ructions when it was reported in The Mercury.

It then hit the national headlines and was discussed at some length on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show.

Red Lion Square (7641252)
Red Lion Square (7641252)

Now Stamford Civic Society's Urban Group has put forward a number of 'key facts' relating to the sandstone cobbles - known as Yorkstone setts.

In its document, the group states that the design and construction of the Red Lion Square Yorkstone areas is 'wholly appropriate' for the location, is in accordance with national and county-level guidance, and was designed to create a safe shared space for pedestrians and traffic that reduces vehicle speed.

It also says that the only reason for the failure of the surface has been a lack of basic maintenance by Lincolnshire County Council's highways department, which should have put sand between the setts to prevent them from moving and splitting.

The document concludes that re-laying the setts would be the cheapest solution, and would prevent wasting them - and money spent on them

In a further report, Andy Moore, a former civil engineer and member of Stamford Civic Society Urban Group, said that the estimated cost of relaying the setts would be £40 per square metre compared with £60 per square metre if it is replaced with a tarmac-style surfacing.

However, other people have defended the town council's vote for tarmac.

Max Sawyer, 68, of Waverley Gardens, Stamford, said: "When people were asked 13 years ago if they wanted the Yorkstone scheme, the majority said 'no', but a small number of people with too much influence over the planning authority made sure it went ahead anyway.

"To me, it was the biggest waste of money in Stamford's history. We were told the surface would last 30 years, but it but it started to have problems a little over a year after it was laid.

"This was, in part, because there is a bend in the road and so the turning force of vehicles is moving the stones."

The former mayor of Stamford, who served on Stamford Town Council for seven years, added: "It's a mistake to look at this as a heritage argument. We need to take a more pragmatic view.

"I've lived in Stamford since 1953 and up until 2006 there was a tarmac surface. In fact, up until 1960 it was the A1.

"My preference would be for a pale-coloured tarmac to distinguish the square from roads that lead on to it.

"However, we have a highly vocal, well-connected group versus the rest of us and they wield a little too much influence."

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