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Voluntary work at Grantham charity is an absolute pleasure

Last month I wrote about the importance of addressing men’s mental health issues and I am pleased to say that I have started my voluntary work with the Place2bee and am thoroughly enjoying it.

It’s a pleasure to work for the benefit of the community I was born and raised in.

An important factor in everybody’s mental well being is a stable roof over your head, preferably in pleasant surroundings. Readers of this column will know I am passionate about the need for far more council housing, locally and nationally. A quick reminder that across South Kesteven there are nearly 1,600 on the council waiting list, with nearly 6,000 properties on its books.

Lee Steptoe (46585897)
Lee Steptoe (46585897)

Two years ago, the newly appointed Conservative leader of SKDC and his deputy stood in Devon Court in Earlesfield, the ward that I represent, and promised to build 500 new council homes across our district within seven years. The rather pathetic reality is that so far around 20 have been completed. I acknowledge that Covid has had an impact, but this is still a miniscule rate.

New council properties are vital, but their location is a crucial factor in quality of life, especially with the recent focus on the environment being in huge danger in the coming decades, (and indeed now as forest fires to flooding all around the world demonstrates.)

SKDC’s latest proposal is to build 21 flats and 14 houses in the Larch Close area of Earlesfield, as highlighted by this paper. The problem is this is protected green space going back 14 years and providing ‘village green’ status. The cabinet member responsible has promised the whole area will not be used and to provide a play area and I am meeting with a council officer to have a site visit this week, to form my own opinion, after having been sent various concerns by residents.

For now I have great sympathy with what Kathy who lives on the estate Tweeted to me: ‘Council houses are desperately needed, but not if the price is the health of our community or our planet! Development should be responsible and sustainable, reusing brownfield sites as much as possible.’

I really couldn’t put it any better and what this needs to open up is a genuine debate about the desirability of relocating the SK tip to the former Fenland Foods brownfield site and use it for council housing.

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