The real tragedy about the Market Place is that the District Council, the Planners and the ruling Conservative Group think that they have delivered Economic Regeneration.
They had a nice party at our expense, coming in from Bourne & Stamford to congratulate themselves.
I do wonder how many of these decision makers actually live in Grantham or if they bothered to ask local opinion – the pitifully low turn-out for the statue ballot is evidence that Grantham residents were not properly consulted.
This is not economic regeneration, it is little more than what should have happened under the normal highways re-instatement and maintenance programme.
What we require is a comprehensive Economic Regeneration programme. This requires a co-ordinated plan which should include the following elements
l A by-pass to stop cars chocking the town, providing access for local businesses to get their raw materials in, and manufactured goods out. Bourne has a nice bypass.
l Adequate and accessible free parking. Just like Bourne & Stamford.
l Pedestrianisation of both the Market Place and London Road. It works in Stamford, and a proper road system would still allow businesses to move goods. Decent free car parks would ensure more footfall, not less.
l Bids in to the UK Regional Growth Fund, or the European Regional Development Fund (do our Councillors even know what these are?) which are Business led.
l Capitalise on our key rail link on the East Coast Line – linking in an enterprise hub around the station with a genuinely rejuvenated shopping centre. This is eligible for a Regional Growth Fund or ERDF bid.
l Links to local Universities and Colleges to provide networks between our local businesses and technology providers. This to include advice on securing UK and EU Research & Development funds for business, such as KTPs, GRDs, TSB and FP7.
l On the last point, if the Council will not do it then I offer myself to do this if the Journal will support me. Last week I chaired such an event at the National Space Centre, with EU support, that attracted dozens of businesses. It is now clear that SKDC cannot deliver Economic Regeneration, so we will have to do it without them.
Pity that they control the money – what exactly did they do with the millions they got for the Grantham New Growth Point project?