We are finding our way as a tourist attraction
Column by Coun Matthew Lee, leader of South Kesteven District Council
Many of you will have seen the regional and national spotlight on Grantham last week as plans to bring a permanent memorial to our most famous daughter, Margaret Thatcher, moved a step closer.
A planning application has been submitted to South Kesteven District Council to site a 10.5ft bronze statue of Baroness Thatcher in the heart of Grantham on St Peter’s Hill Green. The application will be considered by the Development Management Committee.
As Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher is known internationally as a strong and powerful leader. She was the longest-serving Premier of the 20th century. We should be tremendously proud it was Grantham that shaped her.
Margaret was born and raised in Grantham and as a little girl, accompanied her lay preacher father to Finkin Street Methodist Church. She attended our excellent Grantham and Kesteven Girls’ School. For her statue to be here in the heart of Grantham would be an appropriate tribute to such a political colossus in modern British history.
Baroness Thatcher has global appeal and bringing this statue to Grantham would allow future debate on her legacy to be had here in the town of her birth and attract visitors from all over the world to come to see it. They would eat and drink in our cafes, pubs and restaurants, buy souvenirs in our shops and stay in our hotels and guest houses, boosting our local economy.
It would also allow us to show off the other gems we have such as the medieval St Wulfram’s Church, 14 th century Grantham House and Grantham Museum. If we get the whole visitor experience right, those people will spread the word about our district to friends, family and colleagues so many more will follow in their footsteps, spend money here, helping our local economy grow and creating new jobs and opportunities for local people.
I know currently visitors sometimes struggle to find our attractions. Our signage has not been as good as it could be. It is why InvestSK, our investment and economic growth company, are currently undertaking a huge way-finding audit to ensure we are making it easy for people to find their way around our towns.
Invest SK has carried out a complete review across all four market towns to assess the current stock of signs to see which ones need refurbishing, replacing or moving to better locations.
They have paid particular attention to helping people arriving in our towns, whether that’s by train, car or bus, to get to major points of interest. It may not be the most exciting piece of work but it’s absolutely essential if we are to encourage visitors to keep coming back.
We are consulting with local town councils, civic groups and local businesses on our findings to help shape our future wayfinding strategy.
Finally as this is the last column I will be writing before Christmas, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.