Grantham businessman Andy Hodgson chaired his first Grantham Business Club meeting on Thursday.
There was a good turnout to the event, held in the ballroom of the Guildhall Arts Centre.
Mr Hodgson spoke passionately about the town and told members he wants to see the club do its bit to “get things done” in the town, in part by holding the local authority to account where necessary.
He said of the club: “I want this to be the place where all businesses come, big or small,” adding: “We have massive experience in this room we can share with each other.”
He talked about the “many exciting ideas for Grantham” before making a light-hearted dig about the timescale for the new multiplex cinema, which has been delayed several times.
Mr Hodgson said: “We need to think positive and we need to be supportive and we need to challenge but do it in a positive way.”
Speakers on the evening were strategic director for development and growth at South Kesteven District Council Steve Ingram, executive member for highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council Richard Davies and Simon Beardsley, chief executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.
First to speak was Mr Ingram, who talked about ambitious plans for Grantham, which he called a “leading sub-regional centre” and second in the county only to the city of Lincoln. He touched on the designer shopping outlet to be built on the edge of Grantham, the leisure quarter where the new cinema and associated restaurants are to be built and the garden village on the town’s southern quadrant site.
Business club members heard how SKDC is working on a plan for the district for at least the next 15 years, which for Grantham includes new housing on a large scale.
Mr Ingram said of the district’s development: “The majority of growth will be in Grantham.”
Plans for the area around the town’s railway station were also mooted, including a development of town houses aimed at commuters.
Next to take the microphone was Coun Davies, who whizzed through some of the hot topics locally – including potholes, the bypass and parking issues in Westgate and Market Place.
Perhaps more interestingly were ideas he put forward for the future of St Peter’s Hill in Grantham, which he referred to as a “dual carriageway”. Ideas included creating single lanes and widening pavements, bringing the road level up to pavement level to reduce speeds and banning HGVs.
More ambitious schemes could see St Peter’s Hill feature bus and taxi ranks in a modern, more space-efficient layout and the bus station razed to the ground and the space used for something else.
Mr Beardsley was the final speaker and he touched on business-related projects elsewhere in the county.
At the end of the night, Journal managing director Richard Parkinson presented Mr Hodgson with a framed caricature drawn by the Journal’s cartoonist Terry Shelbourne.