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Staff at Waterside Garden Centre in Baston praised in readers letters for Stamford, Spalding, Grantham and Rutland

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

Cash squeeze means centre is lost

On April 18, Rutland councillors were faced with an invidious choice between community fitness, in the form of Catmose Sports Centre, or flooding and the environment. Regardless of which way councillors voted, each did so in the belief they were voting in the best interests of our county.

The question, however, that has not been addressed is why, given an annual expenditure of about £52 million, our council is forced to make such a choice over what is a tiny annual sum – just £0.08 million. It seems rather ironic that we are losing a community asset when we have the dubious distinction of paying the highest council tax in England. But the fact is Rutland County Council has no money. In contrast, Oakham Town Council do have some money and I have recently asked them to consider making a small contribution, given that the majority of users of Catmose are Oakham residents.

The context is that we have seen a continuous reduction in Government support for all local authorities since 2011. Rural authorities, such as Rutland, were particularly affected by the Osborne cuts, in comparison to urban authorities. Then having been forced in 2016 by a cross-party group of MPs to review this issue of funding fairness, Government took over seven years to complete the task. In 2023 Government finally confirmed that its funding formula did disadvantage rural authorities, given their necessarily higher cost of service delivery. And in September 2023 the Government decided to do absolutely nothing about it, leaving Rutland CC with an annual shortfall of circa £1.25 million. This on-going financial squeeze is what officers and councillors must manage, not our Government.

This brings me to chaff, material deployed to confuse. If you read the articles from our MP you might assume that the government has bestowed on Rutland a veritable cornucopia of riches over this past – pre-election - year. The first claim, that Rutland County Council has “received” a 7% increase in funding for 2024/5 is only true to the extent that you have paid 4.99% more in your council tax, whilst Government has contributed 2% or less than half of the rate of inflation. We then have the Levelling Up monies (£6.5m, which is secured); the monies for potholes and re-surfacing of our roads (£1m claimed, only £300,000 confirmed), and £49m from HS2 (an IOU, since this is not included in the Government’s legislative programme). But these grants will be tied by Government to specific projects – they simply don’t trust councils to spend money wisely - and thus do nothing to fill the short-fall that exists to meet the cost of everyday services such as social care and leave almost nothing by way of discretionary expenditure by Rutland County Council.

So, to paraphrase, for want of a few pounds from our Government our sports centre appears to be lost to us.

Coun Ramsay Ross

Leader of the Labour Group - Rutland County Council

Uppingham will hold dementia event

I refer to an article that appeared in last week’s edition entitled ‘Broadcaster shares dementia story’.

It is of course good news that dementia is now a widely discussed disease and that Rutland is holding dementia awareness events. However, I was disappointed that the article failed to mention that Uppingham will be hosting the inaugural event for the National Dementia Awareness Week on Monday, May 13. This will be held in the Falcon Hotel and the lead organisers are Rotarian Liz Sergeant, OBE, and PPG Chair John Leslie. Several local organisations have agreed to participate including Uppingham Surgery, Rutland Healthwatch, Rutland Primary Care Network and the Admiral nurses. It is open to all and as this cruel disease will impact one in three of us,

I hope that through reading your newspaper or by emailing uppinghamsurgeryppg@mail.com or liz.sargeant@icloud.com many people will be encouraged to attend between 9.30am and 1.pm whether they are carers, or are impacted by dementia or merely want to learn more about it.

Anne Dallen Touchin


Meet your councillors

The monthly surgery for Oakham North West residents will be held in the Scout Hut on Grampian Way between 1.30pm and 2.30pm. Surgeries are held on the first Friday of each month.

No appointment is necessary

Couns Steve McRobb and Ramsay Ross

Rutland County Council

The Oakham South Ward Surgery for May will be held on Saturday, May 4 from 10am until midday at The George Hotel in Oakham. No Appointment is needed.

Coun Raymond Payne

Rutland County Council

Full church for welcome return

The 2024 “Music in Lyddington” season featured a welcome return of the vocal group Apollo 5 to a full church on Saturday, April 27.

The five singers demonstrated their powerful singing to wonderful effect, and showed how dynamic such a small group can be. Their collection of pieces called “Haven” explores the poetry of troubled and displaced authors from the Tudor period right through to the present day – including Ukrainian composers currently writing in exile.

Within this general theme, the concert was soothing. The second half, with modern songs specially arranged for them was greatly enjoyed.

Peter Lawson

Music in Lyddington

Anti-social behaviour

Regarding anti-social behaviour in Stamford, it’s too late after the event. You need police on the street at the time these offences happen. There must be a pattern of behaviour, times, days. Make it a point to have a police presence at these times, plain clothes officers on two or three days issue on the spot fines regardless of age a couple of weeks would get the message across.

The jungle drums would be working and the news would percolate through the schools and cliques, make them replant the plants and clear up any rubbish. It would soon stop. We have our own problems, surely Stamford have some police of their own.

Name and address supplied

Superb to see garden centre reopen

We are sitting in the refurbished cafe at Waterside Garden Centre and we would simply like to say to all the staff what a wonderful job they have done. It is truly magnificent. It is a pleasure to return and see them all again. There were times after the flood that one wondered if it would ever open again.

Once again thanks to all the staff.

David and Karen


How can this be defended?

In his column in the Mercury on April 19, our MP states that his thoughts were with the Armed Forces in the Middle East. What about sparing a thought for the thousands of people in Gaza murdered and maimed by the country he appears to support?

In the last six months Israel has slaughtered 34000 people (including 14000 children) and wounded 70000 others (including 12000 children). 2 million people have been displaced and most of these face starvation. Infrastructure including hospitals has been reduced to rubble.

How can anyone with any humanity defend this?

Charlie Hoptroff

Conduit Road Stamford

There are still problems

Lakeside Healthcare says we can book up to six weeks in advance for a routine appointment. I have been trying to do this and no sessions are available, even in six weeks time.

Each time I have been to either of the Lakeside surgeries I have been told there are no session available even when there is not one person in any of the waiting rooms.

How many people have to endure this poor service and how many have either died or became seriously ill due to weeks or months trying to see a doctor?

If there are 15 GPs and many more ancillary staff, what are they doing? Many patients would be sympathetic to their workload if we had clarity as to what the problem is because with 15 doctors there should be no excuse.

Please let us get back to the normal practice we had and see patients ASAP and allow patients to book online appointments because this situation surely cannot continue.

How strange that every patient can see the problem but the CEO or managers seem to have blindfolds on. What calibre of managers would allow the service to decline so badly and do nothing about it?

Name and address supplied

After reading the problems that Lakeside Healthcare have it is a wonder indeed that they still have a GP surgery in Stamford. It has already been rated the fourth worse GP surgery in England, and it has not got any better in fact it should be rated the worse GP surgery in England be of its incompetence.

Lakeside has failed it patients badly by showing very little care for its patients, and its dangerous practices.

I myself managed to see a GP six weeks ago and was prescribed medication by the GP, however the medication that the GP prescribed never reached the chemist even a member of staff at Lakeside admitted that the prescription had not been put through, this took me three weeks to sort out. My wife went into Lakeside at Ryhall road Surgery and sked the receptionist for a specimen bottle, the receptionist refused to give my wife the specimen bottle stating that the surgery was cutting back and could only issue a specimen bottle at a doctors request.

Patients are being fobbed off every day, prescriptions go missing, patients are still being turned away and told to go home and ring 111 or go to A&E at Peterborough miles away, it is clear that the staff lack the right training for their role in the practice by the way the staff treat the patients.

Don't blame age, some patients may be old but they are still living human beings and have the right to live as long as they can and have the right to medical care if it is needed. We all grow older each year and it should not matter what your age is all patients should be treated the same respect they deserve and be treated like a bunch of idiots.

After reading the piece about Lakeside, it clearly shows how incompetent they are, and the lack of skills stands out. I cannot see Lakeside Healthcare, getting any better. They should remember it is patients lives that are being affected by the bad practices that is going on in the surgery. It is indeed a disgraceful thing when patients cannot trust a doctor or the GP surgery they are under.

Allan Young


Road is increasingly dangerous

I believe, it is an established fact that the entire length of the A6121 road between Stamford and Bourne is an increasingly dangerous road to drive on - too much speeding and dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

In Toft village for example, why are golfers forced to sprint faster than Usain Bolt, across the road from the Toft hotel car park to the golf course? Where are the visible flashing speed signs, a pedestrian crossing or traffic calming measures?

Essendine village has blue speeding hatch marks on the road at either end, flashing speed signs, regular police camera vans parked next to the village hall and regular speed watch volunteers armed with speed guns, but their priorities are all wrong.

At the Bourne end of the village there is a sharp right hand bend by the bridge. This bend has seen numerous serious accidents with vehicles and motorbikes all leaving the road leading to either serious injury or death.

So why is there now a huge blue business distillery sign built at that very accident black spot constructed of three enormous upright heavy oak timber beams with two aggressive looking steel bars across the top and bottom?

Any size vehicle or motorbike hitting this extremely solid near roadside structure will surely be meeting his or her maker instantly, so where does that fit into the Essendine road safety measures?

Name and address supplied

Village I recall is not the poshest

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Uffington and was astonished to read that it had it had been recently described as the poshest village, certainly in Lincolnshire, but not in the whole of Great Britain as your report claimed.

In those days, 1936 to 1955, it was a typical edge of the Fens rural working class village of the time with a few retired toffs and Lady Muriel Barclay-Harvey and Mrs Trollope Bellew ruling the roost. The former was a very formidable woman who once told a workmate of my Dad’s that he should be ashamed of himself for picking blackberries on her land. We all loved Mrs Trollope-Bellew, as did my pals who played for the estate cricket team and always cycled to and from away matches. We were quite good too, winning many a game against more experienced villages. Why we did not play for Uffington is another story.

We all knew what people did from bakers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, railwaymen, vicar, school teachers, policeman, milkwomen/men, factory workers (my Dad worked at Blackstones), farm workers, post office and shop workers and publicans, together with those serving in the services, often abroad. We even had our own railway station to Peterborough and Leicester and beyond. The signal box still stands thank goodness. As children we organised ourselves, cycling everywhere and helping out on the farms in those often pre-tractor days

I now live in sunny Milton Keynes, the newest of new towns, which I helped, as a town planner, to build, quite a contrast to Stamford which I return to, with family and friends, every few months or so always on Friday market day and always the priority to buy the Mercury, which I must say is still a good read, unlike many such papers that have long since gone with the wind.

As for Uffington I knew the game was up when I read a while ago in the national papers that there had been a murder in the village in a house with a swimming pool. Then the Trollope Arms changed its name at the request of house price conscious newcomers who thought that Trollope referred to ladies of ill repute.

Philip Ashbourn

Milton Keynes

We need green space

Over the past few years, we have seen large scale housing estates built or planned by landowners such as Burghley Estates or the Cecil Trust, which have led to a concrete ring encircling and strangling our Georgian town. A town needs green space in and around it to allow its people to breathe and thrive, as we can see in the parkland surrounding Burghley House to the south of the town. In recent years we have had housing developments on the Williamson Cliff site, Stamford Manor, Lambert Place, the current development on the Blackstones site with plans to develop Stamford North, the Cummings site and now Exeter Fields currently in the pipeline. The latter site was supposed be for the creation of employment opportunities, much needed to stop Stamford becoming a dormitory town. This incessant ‘housing creep’ makes a mockery of the Local Plan and its stated aim to provide a balanced sustainable approach, mapping out SKDC’s future. It also threatens to create an urban sprawl reaching out to neighbouring villages.

GummerLeathes (Stamford North) has already run into problems with Anglia Water who expressed their concerns over drainage and sewage, as highlighted by Carys Vaughan in last week’s Mercury. Highways England has also demanded more detailed information on traffic flows, which has led to the recent Stantec study – the results of which have only recently been released, so close to the end of the public consultation period over the SKDC Local Plan.

The conclusions of this survey are difficult to verify as it is somewhat opaque, and many traffic predictions are a matter of pure conjecture, placing a great deal of emphasis on residents switching to greener modes of transport. This move to greener modes, whilst laudable, could be interpreted as an attempt to reduce any need for mitigation and costly changes to our local road network. From this proposed 2000 housing development, a conservative estimate of car ownership is about 3000. The lack of onsite employment will generate a commuting population of 70% plus, possibly some home working and bus/pedestrian uptake may reduce this to 60%. Thus, we could see 1800 cars moving on and off the estate at peak times, along with additional through traffic attracted by the new link road – the majority of which will be heading for the A1. The plan to add 300 houses to the Exeter Fields site will only compound this problem. There will be a significant uplift in traffic using residential roads such as Arran Road – something the presiding officer at the early public enquiry was keen to avoid.

Finally, going on the past record of developers’ unfulfilled promises, and the forced demands on any development gain money (106) from such things as improved sewage and drainage, it makes one wonder what funds will remain for the promised social infrastructure and recreational areas contained within the development.

Carl Killgren

Cedar Road, Stamford

Don’t destroy the countryside

Being Allington residents we regularly walk various routes around the village and much further afield, for years now we have been appalled at the state of Sewstern Lane, the stretch to the A52 has been destroyed and is no longer walkable. The opposite direction should be downgraded immediately and gates installed, once it becomes illegal to use motorized machines other than farm vehicles, it should then be possible to report illegal activities. Why are a minority allowed to destroy the countryside? I have spent a considerable amount of time clearing litter locally but I do not have the wherewithal to affect the issue with the lane.

Allington resident

Guests should be comfortable

Last Saturday I attended a wonderful concert in St Wufram’s Church given by the Grantham Choral Society. The soloists, organist, choir and conductor were all brilliant and, musically, the evening was a resounding success. However, the event was marred by the church providing no heating whatsoever. It was so cold that most of the audience (and many of the choir) wore their overcoats throughout.

I know that heating cost a lot but I am told that it costs a lot for the Choral Society to use the venue. Many of the audience commented that they would be reluctant to attend an event in the future under such conditions. If the church wishes to gain public support to help finance its fabric and running costs, then it seems to have a strange way of going about it. This unwillingness to make their guests comfortable will only alienate them.

David White

Denton Avenue, Grantham

Local Plan was inherited

I note with interest the article by Coun Jeal in the Journal (April 26). In his article he implies that the significant development within the SKDC Draft Local Plan, which completed public consultation is as a result of the current ‘Rainbow Alliance’ administration. This is totally misleading. Whilst every new development must be considered on its own merit, the significant growth foisted on our district is as a result of Conservative Government Policy, and in particular a policy agreed by the former Conservative SKDC administration which labelled Grantham a ‘Growth Town’.

Furthermore, the relief road, part funded by the Government after many years of lobbying locally, was only approved for Government funding subject to the town accepting a significant amount of associated housing and development. These decisions were made and approved by SKDC Conservative council members who live largely in other towns or rural villages. In Grantham South, usually with such development, we would expect associated S106 funding to support community need, but the cost of the relief road, originally £36 million and now over £100 million, has meant much of this will go toward the road.

The current Local Plan inherited was approved by a Planning Inspectors making it difficult for changes to be made. When the masterplan for the Southern Quadrant was originally drafted, I organised a public drop-In session at Witham Place, run by SKDC officers and the developer. There was overwhelming local opposition to the plans. The impact on health services, traffic, environment, flooding, wildlife habitat, River Witham corridor and Grantham’s landscape being key considerations. But these views were over-ridden at the time. When it came to full council, I voted against it. I was concerned at both the scale of the development, and also the lack of affordable housing accepted by the Conservative administration – at the time being only 5%. The amount of affordable housing on the site is now under review but other concerns remain. Overcoming them will be a real challenge.

I have been listening to local people during this latest public consultation. I have shared these views with the SKDC officers and our cabinet members and trust they will be listened to now. The council however has to comply with Conservative Government targets. Our district is targeted to deliver 700 new homes a year. We have a desperate need for more affordable housing locally. All of our market towns are facing growth. Housing not delivered in one place must be delivered somewhere else or the council faces punitive Government measures. If the developments are to go ahead, without having a detrimental impact on existing Grantham and other district residents, then the Government needs to put more funding into our county’s infrastructure and more into our budget for council housing. The NHS need to deliver improved local services across the board. In addition to the downgrade of our A&E, we lost our maternity unit in 2013. Now over 1000 mums-to-be from Grantham must travel to Lincoln or Boston to have their babies. All of our care homes are full. GPs, dentists, mental health services and other NHS services are woefully inadequate now. Community services, public transport and parking in the town centre are needed if our town is to benefit. The old road network leading into town is a major barrier. We are told we cannot have pedestrian access across the McDonald’s junction because it can barely cope with the vehicular traffic going through, as it is. The new development in Grantham alone could add over 30,000 more cars on our roads.

A further issue is emerging. We live in a rural agricultural county. Our country is dependent on the produce grown in the fields that surround us. Locally produced food has the lowest carbon footprint. Our farmers are struggling and turning to solar farm installations to make ends meet. Conservative Government policy is pushing through the solar farm projects with only the highest grade land being protected. Grade 3b land, which still produces food for people and animals all year, is being lost across the country. This is in addition to the agricultural land being lost to new housing and industrial development.

There are other, more imaginative, ways of doing things. Building homes across our district that aren’t centred around our historic market towns alone, create new towns and boost villages. Change planning policy to require new builds to have solar panels, or other renewable energy sources. Consider alternative sources of renewable energy or better designed solar farms that take less space. Introduce a national land management scheme which protects areas of food production improving UK food security. Protect our environment and stop the Government turning our agricultural environment into an industrial landscape affecting our well-being, wildlife habitat and income from tourism. These issues are shared by many current SKDC councillors cross-party and across the District. I have written to our MP, to raise these concerns.

Charmaine Morgan

South Kesteven District Councillor Democratic Independent) Grantham St Vincents Ward

Thank you for support

Thank you to everyone that supported us on Saturday (April 27) in the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre when we held a table top sale in need of some much needed funds for the Doris Banham Dog Rescue. We raised a total of £500 of which every penny will go directly to our dogs. We hope to see you again on Saturday, June 7 when we will be back in the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre with another table top sale.

Anne Lockwood

Doris Banham volunteer

Kay Smedley photographed the ducks in a plant pot
Kay Smedley photographed the ducks in a plant pot
Kay Smedley photographed the ducks in a plant pot
Kay Smedley photographed the ducks in a plant pot

So sweet

How sweet is this, not plants but Mummy Duck and her newly hatched ducklings! Something to brighten us up.

Kay Smedley

District needs a good clear out

The whole of Spalding needs a good sort out and not just for the Flower Parade.

There are bags of rubbish everywhere.

Along The Crescent, by the end of the Sorting Office are a skip with split bin bags of rubbish and rats around there. Winsover Road has a passage way that is full of bags that are split open. By Boots, people are still feeding the pigeons.

Also, lots of shops have paintwork peeling off. The empty shops have rough sleepers leaving piles of stuff in doorways.

The Market Place is full of cars even though they shouldn’t be there.

M. Mitchell


Backing for train campaign

Referring to Karen Wakefield's appeal for backing for Sunday train services on the Lincoln to Peterborough main line, I would encourage to join Railfuture Lincolnshire or South Lincs Connected via South Holland District Council.

The problem is not confined to Spalding. I have been campaigning for a new station at Donington for some years. The problem also applies to people living in places like Potterhanworth, Scopwick or Dorrington.

People need to travel and 20% of the population do not have access to a car.

People living in Metheringham or Ruskington — which have a railway station — do not have public transport on Sundays.

Anyone wanting to go to a Sunday football match or shopping in either Lincoln or Peterborough is in great difficulties.

Ms Wakefield might also write to the Prime Minister himself, the Office of Road and Rail, the Secretary of State for Transport, Hull Trains and LNER (both of which use the Lincoln to Peterborough line as a bypass).

As a whole, Lincolnshire’s railways do not make a profit - use it or lose it.

The Government’s and the rail industry's excuse for not supporting this county’s public transport is too few head of population.

This country has not yet recovered financially from the Covid lockdown, so that there is too little spare cash for Lincolnshire’s railways, and HM Treasury holds the purse strings.

The City of Lincoln is part of the problem where the lion’s share of the ‘community pot’ always goes to the city.

Lincolnshire County Council is totally biased towards roadworks.

The rail industry does not want to expand passenger rail services for the sake of freight trains from Felixstowe and Harwich to the north of England. The Peterborough to Lincoln railway line is the freight bypass for the ECML.

I personally have put forward the idea of passing loops (which there once was before rationalisation) so that the slower passenger trains can slew out of the way to allow the faster freight trains to whizz past.

The Lincolnshire coast from Cleethorpes down to King’s Lynn desperately needs a rapid transport system for the sake of the holiday industry.

If Lincolnshire does not get the proposed new railway curve from Donington to Swineshead Bridge, the Lincolnshire coast holiday resorts will continue to suffer.

There is also the issue of direct trains to Cambridge, and from there to the new East-West Railway. To have to go via Peterborough and Cambridge to get to March and Ely is absolutely ludicrous.

Handlers in Ghana and British Columbia buy up surplus space on airliners to convey cartons of cut flowers into Manchester airport, which means thousands of vans and lorries going over the Yorkshire hills to retrieve these flowers for Spalding.

The official time to get trains from Manchester Airport via Leeds to Spalding is 4 hours 39 minutes if the connections are good. With flowers being perishable commodities, that timing is unacceptable and neither is it good for the environment.

On October 21 last year, Ruskington Railway Station was flooded due to lack of maintenance to the railways drainage, this meant the Lincoln to Peterborough railway lost an entire day’s income.

This leads to Network Rail penny pinching on drainage and HM Treasury having to shell-out millions on compensation.

Graham Lilley


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