Grantham Journal Column – 5th January 2018
Happy New Year! At the beginning of 2018 we look forward to another significant year for our town. Hopefully you will have already noticed the preparatory works underway on Spittlegate Level for the bypass junction with the A1 and recent weeks have seen the green light given for the much discussed Designer Outlet Village. Undeniably progress on major projects is always slower than we hope for but I am really pleased to see both these projects move forward. The relief road will not only move traffic out of the town centre, allowing a HGV ban to put in place, but will also help to unlock valuable employment land to create the space businesses need to grow. People often, rightly, talk with concern about the extra housing coming to Grantham but we need to be clear that not only is the plan to build housing but also over 100,000 square metres of employment space which will provide in excess of 4000 jobs.
As Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways and transport I care passionately about the local infrastructure. I am proud to represent the town I was born in and I know that roads and transport are never far from people’s thoughts.
The national economic picture has created a real financial challenge with the county council having it’s budget cut by half over the last ten years. This has been managed through reduced staff (including management team), more efficient delivery of services and also fundamentally changing how we do things.
Locally much has happened in Grantham in recent years with localised investment in the Market Place and Westgate however, I firmly believe there is scope to do more. In particular the time has come to take a serious look at the High Street and to think about how it should operate. No one will have failed to notice that currently we have the makings of a dual carriage way through the middle of our town and this car focused approach is undeniably making the centre less attractive to shoppers and retailer alike. I’m keen to start looking at ways of making the centre of the town more pedestrian friendly with easier and more sensible parking restrictions, for example would a standard 2 hour free on-street parking system work better? Additionally the High Street scene needs to be dramatically improved, evidence from other areas of the country suggests High Streets which look nicer and are less car-centric work better for everyone.
One certainty is that we also need to talk and listen more, very shortly we’ll be holding the next Grantham Area Committee, we need as many people as possible to get involved with this and other issues so that we can all work for the betterment of our town.