STRAIGHT TALK: Did we miss a trick with new town development?

WORK is almost finished on the fancy new Red Lion Quarter, the £6.5million project dreamt up by the council to renovate the area and spice up Spalding town centre.

Just a quick final facelift for the road and building front – albeit one that cost £120,000 – to make sure South Holland’s new baby is ready for unveiling time in March.

This should be good news for everyone, as all the press releases and posters are promising a glossy new centre which will include a food court, Boston College branch and more office space.

Yet the cynical side of me is still looking at this with caution, as it seems a lot of money to spend on providing what is essentially more of the same in Spalding.

Of course there are good points to this renovation; new businesses will be clamouring for the central location of the offices once the economy sits back up again, and a new restaurant should be popular.

My concern is the local food court. Not that it’s a bad idea, as it consolidates everything, but we have had butchers, stores and supermarkets providing local goods for years; it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

If we’re being super critical, we could also do without another restaurant, as Spalding is full to bursting with eateries (an occupational hazard of being a market town).

The culture of this town has always been focused around food, so I can understand the inclusion of a food heritage centre.

The problem is this little market town is now in the 21st century, along with the rest of the country and maybe the council are relying on this food angle too much.

The revival of Springfields into a genuine attraction was a good move by the council, but unfortunately the shopping centre’s a little far for a casual stroll from the town centre.

Now the council has the perfect opportunity to give this town the few things we’re missing, and could genuinely do with, along with maybe something a little different, but they’re sticking with the market flavour.

Personally I think we’d do worse than a HMV, or something similar, as the last half decent place for DVDs and electronics was the ill-fated Woolworths, and there are many other shops and attractions that would be welcome here.

Granted, there’s been talks of a future shopping centre in Gore Lane, to replace the old telephone exchange, along with ideas for Holland Market, so the potential doesn’t disappear when the Red Lion Quarter is unveiled.

Come March I’m sure it will be a resounding success, and a fine addition for the town and local culture. But I’ll still be wondering if it could’ve been more...