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Letters from readers in Stamford, Grantham, Spalding, Bourne and Rutland





Our readers have shared their views on a variety of issues.

John Elson cartoon sponsored by the Assist Group
John Elson cartoon sponsored by the Assist Group

Scheme will not improve our town

As promised Grantham’s Market Place was totally closed on May 7 with locked gates and dozens of orange barriers preventing market traders and potential shoppers from venturing there. Even the usually busy Conduit Lane car park was virtually empty on Saturday. However, the forthcoming roadworks hadn’t even started when I visited the market four days later on May 11. Why was this allowed to happen? Surely common sense should have prevailed, even in Grantham, and the “planned” roadworks should have been postponed until after the end of May bank holiday and workers were ready to actually start work for at least five full days per week in order to keep to their advertised end date of Monday, August 19.

I note there are exactly 15 weeks between the two advertised dates, whereas the BBC News article of May 3 says the Market Place works “will take 22 weeks to complete” which will take us to October 8. Surely no market trader or local shops can survive such lengthy and totally unnecessary road works? Maybe this is a secret plan to completely close the market (and even Grantham) for ever!

I have yet to meet anyone in person or on local social media who thinks this mad scheme is going to improve Grantham, especially as the virtually illegible on-line plans have now revealed that all current parking in that area is to be removed! So where will potential shoppers, especially disabled ones, be able to stop and shop near to the Prime Comfort mobility shop, Tuffies Bargain store, various hairdressers and the Midland Bank etc? We used to have 20+ parking spaces around the Market Cross before the 2011 revamp when SKDC removed them all plus the well-loved burger van which parked there all week. The market and shops have never fully recovered from those 2011 changes; the road calming humps have disintegrated several times, drivers have been driven away by over-zealous traffic wardens who issue hefty fines at every opportunity. Even the eight large trees in expensive, ugly wooden boxes have all died having been finally banished to The Paddock in St Catherine’s Road as they were a nuisance and had to be removed at great expense to accommodate the fair etc at least twice a year. But Richard Davies has proclaimed on many occasions that the whole project was a huge success, no doubt because his salary doesn’t depend on footfall in the Market Place nor anywhere else in Grantham.

One can only dread what these latest changes (I hesitate to use the word “improvements”) to the market will inflict on all local people, that is if any of us survive the simultaneous major roadworks on Barrowby Road, the Market Place and Victoria Street etc plus the regular influx of A1 traffic due to serious accidents. Not to mention several more months of guaranteed road chaos for the Wharf Road/Station Road junction from November. Raising the road level in the Market Place to the same height as the pavement can only bring regular chaos to pedestrians and drivers alike as neither will have clearly designated safe areas. It will be even more dangerous in icy weather and installing expensive setts, which I assume to be a type of old fashioned cobbles, will be extremely uncomfortable for anyone to negotiate in a pushchair, wheelchair or mobility scooter and for pedestrians with any sort of mobility problems. No-one needs cobbled streets in the 21st Century! Why would anyone want to create an “events area” with a busy road running through the middle of it? Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon would never have entertained such an idea! Wyndham Park and Dysart Park have regularly proved to be far more suitable areas for large events than our busy market streets. It remains to be seen how long the forthcoming noise and chaos lasts and how many businesses will actually survive for months without their usual income. Meanwhile I hope all local people will rally round and keep visiting their favourite stalls, shops, bars etc in Westgate so they manage to survive, despite these ill-thought-out changes and maybe some new councillors will realise their mistakes and actually keep current parking spaces rather than removing them for no good reason. Surely it isn’t too late to preserve the market area and our sanity rather than waste millions on these poorly designed, and unnecessary changes?

Lynda North

Grantham

I presume that Lincolnshire County Council mean well with their work in the Market Place. Otherwise they would not bother. However, I am concerned that so much town centre development consists of creating vast paved areas, suitable for putting out chairs and tables, and recreating the attractive cafe culture of the Mediterranean. It works in the South of France. It does not work here, because it rains a lot. If it didn't, we would have evolved a cafe culture of our own by now. But its colder and wetter here, and our culture invented the pub instead, which is an indoor institution.

Maybe the well-meaning planners in Lincoln are confusing the south of the county with the south of the continent? But perhaps they should start by actually taking to some people in Grantham, preferably before they spend all the money.

John Morgan

Town councillor, Grantham St Vincent's ward

More support needed for midwives

The national news regarding the wide range of experiences of women in labour is cause for huge concern. Not picked up in media headlines is the loss of our maternity units and the ongoing impact this is having on women and babies.

According to a Telegraph report (March 17, 2024) , in the last 10 years one in seven maternity units have closed nationally. That’s 27 in all with 4 more threatened, including Grantham and District Hospital Maternity Unit. Rather than giving women more choice we have less.

This not only affects labour, increasing stress, but also affects access to support from family and friends, especially for those without a car and/or low income.

The protection and restoration of maternity units must be the objective of any government serious about the welfare of all mums to be.

A response to my FOI request shows that 2022/2023 over 1000 mums a year in Grantham now, travelled to Lincoln and Boston to give birth. Those travelling to Nottingham to give birth add to these.

Specialists argue travelling in labour puts babies more at risk. As Grantham grows there will be more mums to be forced to travel unless we get our local maternity services back. We are meant to live in a democracy yet the maternity unit was lost despite 7500 local people signing the SOSGH letter to protest in 2013.

There is a national shortage of 2,500 midwives. A further shortage of consultants and other specialist staff. It takes years to train.

Far more resource is needed to support training and retention of our midwives and paediatricians. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has recently announced £35m to support maternity services. It is too little and too late. Now we have a vicious circle with the midwives and paediatricians who remain under huge pressure, putting mums and babies at risk, from potentially life changing and life threatening circumstances, and, increased staff losses.

District Councillor Charmaine Morgan

Chair SOS Grantham Hospital

Support for farming

A real positive for farming, set against serious sector challenges, has been a swell of support for the NFU-backed ‘Brit click’ campaign.

This calls on retailers to back our farmers by adding ‘Buy British’ filters online.

The NFU has championed ‘Brit-click’ since 2016 and recent campaigning saw 31,000 shoppers sign an open letter and 500 people email MPs.

MP and campaign advocate Dr Luke Evans gathered the backing of 121 MPs to write to supermarket chiefs. This led to Waitrose, the Co-op, Ocado and Sainsbury’s being the first to change their websites to help people find British produce when shopping online.

Morrisons and Aldi followed suit in December and January.

Independent research shows people want to buy more British food and that’s why we have been championing this important issue.

Ahead of a General Election political parties have a crucial role to play too.

Quite rightly they will be focusing on the cost-of-living crisis as families struggle with food bills but supporting homegrown food production must be part of the solution.

We need a food security plan that backs British farms and it will help reduce food miles too.

Go to www.nfuonline.com/brit-click on the web to add your campaign support.


Jane Bassett

Farmer and NFU regional board chair

Treasure is not in my garden!

Love your article about prospective search for King John’s Treasure.


My theory is that the treasure isn't there as it was nicked in 1216. King John was heavily in debt. He was an unpopular person and doubtless a horrible employer. He was ailing, and his retainers feared he might pop off and that they wouldn't get paid.

Seeing the baggage train was in difficulties they didn't risk ploughing on to certain doom but turned back with the carts holding the valuable stuff and hence it "disappeared".

There are only two written reports, I believe, one much after the event so it was hushed up. Alternatively, it was the medieval equivalent of an "insurance job" by King John, to pretend his stuff was lost but he had it "disappear" from his creditors, saving the crown jewels for his son Henry III, after realising he was ill and that the finger of death was upon him.

Unfortunately the jewels were melted down by Oliver Cromwell, but one item dating back to Henry III remains. Definitely the treasure will not be in my back garden in Boston.

Myrtle Walter

Boston

Railway needs an upgrade

The Lincolnshire coast railway line needs upgrading. Here are some suggestions:

A Supertram link from New Clee (Grimsby) via Cleethorpes sea front, Humberstone, Tetney, Marshchapel, North Somercoates, Saltfleet, Theddlethorpe, Mablethorpe, Trusthorpe, Sandilands, Anderby Creek, Chapel St. Leonards, Ingoldmells, Skegness, Wainfleet, Friskney, Wrangle, Benington, Holcroft End, Boston Docks, and taking a back route into Boston; possibly to Kings Lynn. This would set the Lincolnshire coast on par with Blackpool.

A supertram link to replace the long lost Lincoln to Boston railway via Bardney, Woodhall Spa, Tattershall and Coningsby taking a back route into Boston. This would save the passenger a detour to Sleaford and a 40 minute wait at that railway station. It would not be feasible for a direct replacement for the Lincoln to Boston Railway because the original trackbed only touched Bardney (the railway was built for farmers) and as been built over in places.

Signposting from Boston Railway Station to Boston Bus Station. The last time that this compiler visited Boston, he had to ask directions from a friendly traffic warden.

Restoration of Donington railway station. Nothing remains of this station except the former goods shed which is used for packing fruit. Originally built for farmers and out-of-the-way at the north end of the village. Inconvenient unless it serves Church End, Nothorpe, South Ing, and possibly Swaton. The railway station would also need flyovers at Maltings Lane and Cowgate Lane, and a southward road access from Maltings Lane because of the poor access from the A52 roundabout.

Donington will become "go to" place with the return of Captain Matthew Flinders to the village of his birth.

A new curve of track from Donington to Swineshead Bridge. This would essentially create a direct route from Cambridge and Ely, also from Peterborough to Mabletoft (Louth), Skegness and Mablethorpe.

However, the subject of a bottleneck between Sleaford and Spalding occurs again.

Reconnect Mabletoft (Louth) and Mablethorpe to Firsby Junction. There is no way to restore trains entirely into Louth because the trackbed from Mabletoft (to the south of Louth) is now the main arterial road into the market town. A bus service might be needed.

Sunday trains. An ongoing campaign is bubbling under by residents of the east coast and the residents surrounding the 'joint line' from Lincoln to Peterborough.

Direct train services from Lincoln to Cambridge and Ely avoiding Peterborough to connect with the Cambridge tramway and the new East West Railway. Again, creating a bottle-neck between Sleaford and Spalding with need for greater capacity.

Sort-out Sleaford East Junction. At this point, the double track Sleaford freight bypass on the north-south route diminishes into a single-track before returning to a double-track southwards from the junction. The track on the east-west route is single track from immediately east of Sleaford railway station to the Skegness terminus.

Double-track working from Nottingham to Skegness. Sadly, the underestimated Nottingham to Skegness line has been allowed to diminish into a single track. Lack of adequate public transport is killing the Lincolnshire tourist / holidaymaker industry.

Electrification of east Lincolnshire’s railways from Cleethorpes and Lincoln down to King’s Lynn and Peterborough.

Flyovers wherever necessary.

A marina north of Sleaford and the restoration of the Slea Navigation Canal for canal boats.

A unified direct bus service from Sleaford to Bourne. Centrobus runs a morning service from Billingborough for both residents and schoolchildren in the morning, a return service for residents at noon, and returning the schoolchildren to Billingborough at 4pm; Sleafordian buses run a schools bus from Dimsby in the morning and returning the schoolchildren at 4pm. Delaine buses run a schools service from Martin into Bourne. These three bus services need to be unified into a single bus service throughout the day to become a singular bus service. It is a long walk from Dimsby to Martin.

A new bus service from Sleaford to Tattershall and Coningsby; possibly Horncastle. With the cessation of the 446 / 448 coach service from Hull to Peterborough, the lack of a bus service has left the people of North Kyme, Tattershall and Coningsby stranded.

Improved infrastructure for buses in rural Lincolnshire. Some parish councils have found the cash for simple bus shelters but, laybys and shelters are desperately needed.

Censure Lincolnshire County Council and the City of Lincoln Council for depriving rural Lincolnshire of adequate public transport. 20% of people do not have access to a car.

Graham Lilley

Public Transport campaigner

Well done on reopening

Well done to Andy Parrot and all your many helpers in getting Waterside Garden Centre up and running after such a bad disaster. It was so nice to be back, able to shop and have meals again which we have missed so much.

It was a great shock to see what had happened as we had shopped for plants and stopped for a meal ever since you first opened.

Congratulations to you all and all the best to Waterside Garden Centre.

Derek Bailey

Meadway, Market Deeping

Woodland was so clean

I walked from our house in Stephenson Way right threw from Cawthorpe and right to the Beech Avenue End on Saturday morning i left the house at 4.55am. I have not done this since covid and I was so impressed at how clean and tidy the woods was, hardly any litter and the trees that had been cut down were all cleared to one side and a lot had been removed.

There was a lot said about how the Forestry Commission had made a mess of the wood a few years ago, but now lovely and a pleasure to walk so early in the morning.

Well done to the Forestry Commission doing all that work.

Brenda L Jones

Chairman Bourne Civic Society

Torkington Gardens party
Torkington Gardens party

Our first garden party celebration

When you get old, being able to see, meet and chat to friends becomes really difficult, especially if you are unable to walk far. Have you ever thought about this ?

Torkington Gardens in Stamford, consists of a group of 32 flats. We are all over 55 years old, some much older and yet we have nowhere to go on the complex, to meet up for a chat.

For the very first time, last Saturday afternoon, we were all able to do that as our residents association had set up a fund over recent years, cash paid by each of us, to enabled us last week, to buy some comfortable garden chairs and a table, costing us nearly £ 1,000.

And what a success ! At this inaugural gathering almost half of our residents turned up, each with food and drink to share, topping all that with a huge strawberry chocolate cake. What a celebration !

We all had a really lovely, relaxing time, sitting in the warm spring sunshine, which eventually led to a discussion in which it was decided that we would love to be able to do this more often, but wondering what we could do if it rained or was cold.

Ann idea was suggested that maybe we could raise enough funding to provide our residents with a gazebo or a conservatory, (possibly free standing in the garden area) so that we could enjoy casual future gatherings whatever the weather.

However we would need a bigger fund! We are now wondering if there are any local businesses to which we could apply to help us to provide reasonable funds that would make it all possible.

We are a small community, but the need is great, to avoid the loneliness and isolation some of our residents experience. The small committee of the residents association would be over the moon to hear from you !

Andrew Morris

Secretary of the residents association, Torkington Gardens, Stamford

Send your letters to: news@lincsonline.co.uk



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