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Leaders talk of their hopes for Spalding’s £20 million ‘left behind town’ cash

The ‘left behind town’ £20million cash for Spalding provides a real opportunity to raise aspirations, lift people out of deprivation and boost the district’s economy, according to the area’s political leaders.

The Government has now told us why Spalding was among 55 ‘overlooked’ towns in need of investment – saying it is because of issues with skills, productivity, health and pay.

Spalding’s report card shows why we’ve been left behind
Spalding’s report card shows why we’ve been left behind

It announced last week that the town was going to the funding boost over a ten year period - with the public getting a say on how it is spent.

South Holland District Council leader Nick Worth and MP Sir John Hayes welcomed the chance to tackle problems with low skills and low pay – and feel a lack of government funding over the years has had an impact.

River Welland Spalding town centre
River Welland Spalding town centre

Coun Worth is pleased to receive the acknowledgement that South Holland has problems with deprivation.

He said: “In many ways it is nice to be recognised. South Holland has never really been recognised as an area with deprivation and a lot of funding goes to East Lindsey and Boston – which is great for the partnership - but we have always struggled to explain to government that we have areas of deprivation as well.

“St Paul’s ward is the main one in Spalding and Hurn ward is the other. Generally speaking across South Holland we don’t much think of as a deprived area and I don’t even think about in my own ward but when you look at the stats and drill down to certain areas it could be ASB or obesity and low skills.

Coun Nick Worth at the Castle site
Coun Nick Worth at the Castle site

“If you look across South Holland skills are quite low and always have been.”

The Government has said why it has allocated the money to 55 towns – including Boston and Skegness as well as Spalding. It was based on the percentage of the total population with an NVQ level 3 and above, healthy life expectancy, median gross weekly pay and gross value added per hour worked.

A priority list of local authorities was then drawn up with all local authorities in the ‘bottom quartile’ against 3 or more of the 4 metrics - although the exact scores have not been released.

Coun Worth said: “I think it is lack of funding and in many ways it is very difficult for rural district councils to deal with big issues on their own. Generally you have to work with partnerships and these things can take long time to make progress on.”

He said that the council is working with education establishments to tackle skills issues, adding: “The agri-food sector has changed dramatically over the last few years and the opportunities for people with skills have gone up amazingly because of robotics, computer engineering. There are lots of opportunities for young people to progress. We need to help them with that sort of thing - we can do that with this funding.”

Spalding town centre, looking towards Hall Place
Spalding town centre, looking towards Hall Place

He hopes a £20million transformation of the Castle Sports Complex will help tackle issues with obesity.

Coun Worth said: “We need to get more people exercising and if we have a new facility and pool that is going to help towards that.

“I think this will also open up opportunities for more cycle and walk ways around the town to connect up different areas to the town centre. We have branded this as a health hub not just a swimming pool and fitness suite. It has been branded differently to encourage people in there. There will be other agencies involved in that as well.”

A town board will decide how the cash is spent - dovetailing with a separate business project and hopefully leading to match funding.

Coun Worth said: “This is a chance to make a difference to the area. At the moment we are carrying out the town centre improvement project and it costs a lot of money to do these things. If we have a regular stream of money coming in over ten years that is going to make a real difference.”

MP Sir John feels the agricultural and food sector based economy in South Holland has had an impact on our skills levels.

MP Sir John Hayes
MP Sir John Hayes

He said many rural towns have suffered from issues such as Covid and online shopping, adding: “Over the last several years, there’s been really big challenges for small town Britain. Spalding is very much part of that.”

He said revitalising the town centre was a priority along with restoring civic pride and improving access to health services.

Sir John, who has been lobbying the Government for improved investment, feels that unfair formulas which favours urban areas have impacted on Lincolnshire.

He said: “It’s another victory for our ‘fair funding’ campaign but there is always more to do.”

Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board is working with partners on the Castle Sports project to try to improve health and wellbeing.

Spalding town centre
Spalding town centre

A spokesman said: “Inequalities in health outcomes such as life expectancy occur throughout the UK, with significant gaps between more affluent areas and areas that have higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation. The reasons why are complex and the result of many interacting factors, to do with housing, employment, the built environment, and access to healthcare.

“This is why it is so important that we are working with partners, including the county and district councils, to develop an Integrated Care Partnership that can help tackle the underlying causes and make sure people have access to the right health services to help them stay healthy and live the life they want.”

What do you think? Post your comments below or email victoria.fear@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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