There is much discussion about what is happening to Grantham and the causes behind it.
The decline of Grantham has many causes: but it boils down to the simple fact that outsiders no longer visit in numbers.
Our local authority, happy with its flagship town of Stamford and quiet rural retreat of Bourne are content to develop Grantham into a dormitory town to maximise tax revenue while minimising expenditure.
Traffic is a huge problem. When I moved to Grantham in 1975 many of the market stalls had browsers and customers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in ranks of two, three or more deep.
Grantham was so easy to access and was so user-friendly then, much easier to drive here and park than attempt to shop in Nottingham.
Second, Grantham had a unique collection of shops: Smith’s Tools and Collards attracted the menfolk while the Little Dustpan was an essential stop for a busy housewife – no day out would have been complete without a browse around Chandlers. Halls soft furnishings was the best shop of its type in the district and our Co-op was very good. The window of White and Sentence bearing the Dynatron display bore many nose-prints.
Third, in those days Grantham had quaint areas. Some buildings housed established old businesses such as Cheshire’s Chemist that could have been in a living museum or Lincoln and Davy, who, in spite of the old-fashioned smells of paint and paraffin, had probably the first “colouriser” paint mixing system in this area.
The Saturday bric-a-brac auction occupied most of the space from Stanton Street to Welby Street along Wide Westgate (my first train set came from there in about 1960) and was very popular.
Even ignoring our congestion, our never-ending road works or inadequate car parks our town would remain almost devoid of tourists and visitors because natural wastage has removed our unique shops which could never be replaced, while supermarkets and DIY superstores skim the cream off the top of the available business, all aided and abetted by our local authority.
Escalating the cost of market pitches has had a distinctly discouraging effect on those stalls offering minority interest goods, as if the weather of the last few winters has not been challenge enough for our market traders!
With no plans to recreate the canal basin and warehousing, offices and stables or other heritage attractions, or to provide a permanent covered market or anything else in the least bit useful or attractive to visiting shoppers or tourists, the residents of Grantham must resign themselves to living, no longer in a historic market town, but in a dormitory town capable of supporting only the businesses needed to service the folk who live here.
This situation will remain until the SKDC can be persuaded to replace itself with proper borough councils.