VIDEO: Panel put through their paces at Journal Question Time

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THE town’s economy, future building proposals, the long-awaited bypass, and the refurbishment of Market Place were among the hot topics debated at the Journal’s Question Time event on Friday night.

Chaired by editor James Mitchinson, panellists at the event included:

• Grantham Business Club chairman Bijal Ladva

• South Kesteven District Council strategic director Ian Yates

• MP for Grantham Nick Boles

• South Kesteven District Council cabinet member Frances Cartwright

• Lincolnshire county councillor Richard Davies

• Grantham and Stamford Labour Party chairman David Burling

• Lincolnshire County Council area highways manager Mark Heaton

• Lincolnshire County Council head of regeneration Paul Wheatley

Questions were submitted by Journal readers and audience members and showed that people in Grantham have a wide range of concerns about issues facing the town.

Top of the list was the state of the town’s economy.

Audience members wanted to know what plans were in place to safeguard the short-term future of the town centre and ensure that plans to grow the town come to fruition.

Journal editor James Mitchinson said: “This is an event the Journal really feels is important.

“As the editor I was getting a really strong feeling from our readers that this was an event that needed to be put on - it was something our readers demanded.

“What I want to see come out if this is issues and topics that you don’t think the panellists know about, because it’s a chance to get them on the agenda.

“Hopefully we’ll all leave this building thinking positive things about the future.”

During a wide-ranging debate, it was revealed that work will soon begin to find a tenant for proposed new warehouse facilities to the south of the town - a development that will include the first phase of the town’s east-west bypass.

And Lincolnshire County Council area highways manager Mark Heaton revealed that a public consultation into the route of the new bypass could take place at the end of this year.

He told the audience that the county council is considering paying for the bypass to be built and recouping the cost from developers at a later stage.

Under current plans the road will be built as part of a future housing development to the south of the town.

Tempers flared when the debate moved on to the subject of establishing a town council for Grantham.

South Kesteven District Council members Mike Taylor and Mark Ashberry, who were part of the audience at the event, argued publicly about whether introducing a town council would be a good idea and about the costs involved to the public.