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South Kesteven District Council leader says new ideas like renaming Grantham Museum in honour of Margaret Thatcher are key to success

A few days after Good Friday, Jesus’ disciples had already gone back to their ‘business as usual’ of fishing in Lake Galilee, writes South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter (Ind).

They were out all night but couldn’t catch a sprat. Early in the morning a man on the shore suggested they throw their net out on the other side of the boat. When they tried this new idea their nets were soon full of fish – 153 to be exact - and the man on the shore turned out to be Jesus.

Sometimes, when we’re stuck in our ways, trying out new ideas can be the key to success. At a recent council meeting I made a spur-of-the-moment suggestion that more people might visit Grantham Museum if it were renamed as the Margaret Thatcher Museum. I am no fan of the Iron Lady but I know that even 30 years after she left office her legacy still gets people excited. She was not only Britain’s first female Prime Minister but also one of the UK’s most divisive leaders since Oliver Cromwell.

South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter
South Kesteven District Council leader Ashley Baxter

I was quite surprised that my comments were picked up by the local and national press resulting in bags of publicity for the museum. Believe it or not, I don’t hold a strong opinion about whether the museum is named after Maggie Thatcher, or Sir Isaac Newton or even Nicholas Parsons, but I am determined to increase the numbers of tourists spending their time and money in South Kesteven. I am therefore quite pleased that my somewhat flippant comments sparked a debate about the role and purpose of Grantham Museum.

The episode has made me wonder what else we could say or do to encourage each other to think differently about things we take for granted. What would make people visit local shops rather than ordering everything online? What would it take to get people to travel by bus or bike rather than the car? How can we get teenagers playing sport instead of watching the television?

Grantham Museum. Photo: Google Maps
Grantham Museum. Photo: Google Maps

Mostly we prefer the comfort of the status quo and sometimes we would even prefer to turn back the clock to the ‘good old days’ but there is nothing more constant than change. When it comes, we must be prepared to think and act differently in order to make the most of opportunities ahead of us.

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