PLANNING and Development Minister Nick Boles told business leaders that ‘there’s something in the water’ in Grantham that produces amazing scientists and local businesses. But the town needs to work to fulfil its potential.
The local MP was speaking at a business innovation conference at Stoke Rochford Hall as part of the Gravity Fields Festival.
He said: “In the years that I’ve been MP for Grantham and Stamford I’m not sure there’s ever been a moment when I’ve been more excited about Grantham’s future or more proud to be its MP than last Friday evening.”
Mr Boles was at the Gravity fields opening and the Guildhall, listening to former Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School student, professor Valerie Gibson, whose work involves the Hadron Collider.
He said: “It reminded me of something that I said when I was first trying to get selected as the candidate for Grantham and Stamford for the Conservative Party. I read up about the place and the history and everybody who had come from these parts and I remember saying to my audience that there was clearly something in the water round here that produces amazing scientific minds.
“And I think you see that thing in the water is at work in amazing local businesses.”
Mr Boles said that not being local allowed him to see Grantham’s strengths and weaknesses.
He said: “One of the things since I first came to Grantham that has frustrated me about Grantham is that it doesn’t understand its own potential and it doesn’t sell it well. It’s a town with fantastic schools, with really extraordinary transport links, with beautiful countryside around and houses that are nice and, by the standards of the rest of the country, relatively affordable”
He said it reminded him of growing up in Reading, which, he said, was ‘frankly, a dump’.
He added: “Some might say it is still a dump, but actually Reading has transformed itself. It’s built out these amazing industrial parks. It’s attracted extraordinary businesses to the town and I think the thing that Reading did over the last 20 years is what I believe Grantham can, and must, do over the next 20 years.”
Mr Boles said his Government department was planning, as part of the European Regional Development Fund, to announce £30m to support local innovation in the East Midlands, and he hoped that local businesses would apply.