We want to hear your BIG ideas to help shape Spalding’s future over the next three decades – and provide some quicker fixes to improve life for residents almost in an instant.
South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes is ready to join council leaders and groups like the Civic Society and Chamber of Trade in an “ideas forum” to plan where we want to go over the next 20 to 30 years and explore avenues for funding major projects.
Mr Hayes said: “Part of that is about how we can get extra funding into the district and part of it is about making sure we have a very clear, well-defined vision of what we want the future to look like.”
The MP says there’s also a host of little projects – things like public art – that could help transform the town.
District council leader Gary Porter wants to hear your “£500 to £5,000” ideas because ward councillors have cash to spend straight away without cutting through mountains of red tape.
Coun Porter said: “It’s the little things that wind the public up.”
Ward budgets were designed to bypass council bureaucracy and, if someone wants a litter bin in a particular spot, Coun Porter says any councillor can tell them on the spot: “I have got £250 in my ward budget, I will pay for it.”
He said: “I have got shed loads of my budget left because I only spend when people tell me they want it.”
South Holland missed out on £67.5million in July as Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) unveiled county projects to be funded up to 2017 from cash pots including the Government’s Growth Deal.
The LEP later said the much talked about rail freight hub for Deeping St Nicholas – a possible contender – couldn’t be delivered in time to be given money.
The district council has since approached the LEP with its own and partner-led projects, including the £27.5million rail freight hub and £95.5million for phases two and three of Spalding’s Western Relief Road.
Mr Hayes opposes the rail hub because “it’s in the wrong place in the middle of open countryside” and believes the Western Relief Road needs careful study to ensure “the total cost is justifiable”.
He wants an agreed way forward on big projects.
“If we have got our ducks in a row, we could then go out and bid for money,” he said.
The MP says less costly projects could include more green spaces in town and a project the civic society would like to see, returning the fountain from Ayscoughfee Gardens to its old home in the town centre.
Mr Hayes would like more public art in the town centre, perhaps getting Transported involved, to make Spalding a more attractive place. He also backs council action on clearing town centre grot spots like the Bull and Monkie pub.
Coun Porter wants the public’s suggestions because he feels special interest groups have set ideas.
He said: “I would much rather we got your newspaper readers to write in with a bunch of suggestions and then have some sort of filter mechanism to decide.
“It has got to be what the public want.”
* Please email your ‘big idea’ to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Lincolnshire Free Press, Priory House, The Crescent, Spalding PE11 1AB.