I often wonder what happened to the initiative for a better Spalding? Over the years local government have talked about a new multi-purpose sports facility, the big idea programme, a better market place facility and overall a better Spalding. It has all gone very quiet.
We see the housing development growing for the area, with 17,000 new homes planned for the area of South East Lincolnshire over the next 20 to 30 years. This development will increase the population and increase our volumes of traffic on our crumbling rural roads. Also, where will the jobs come from to support the growth? We have little manufacturing in the area.
Our market town in the heart of Lincolnshire is under great strain now, so how will it cope and what does the town have to offer? Now is the time to develop the town and plan for the growth. If not, then people go elsewhere and that will harm the local economy even more.
Infrastructure, such as new roads, the right amenities, healthcare, schools, parks and links from Lincolnshire to our national highways need to be put in place and not become an afterthought after the event. Developers have to make good their promises here for the local communities along with better public transport. We must stop relying on the car for those local trips into town.
Take the current A16. In my opinion this new road fell short of a dual carriageway, this should have been the gateway from rural Lincolnshire to the A1 and beyond. Now it appears that this will never happen because of cost. There was a total lack of forward thinking here, just look at the increase in HGV use.
Also our new £20 million hospital, which is supported by the great staff in our NHS, but will it be enough for the growing area with no A&E? Boston Pilgrim is already under strain and supports many areas of Lincolnshire overall. Boston and Peterborough could be too far away in an emergency.
With council leaders supporting devolution, which is good in principle, but will not work if central government does not underpin and support some of the funding to make it work in the long term.
Local government has had several town centre managers, but has this worked for the benefit of Spalding and the local communities it serves? Well I don’t think it has and it is time to reconsider how the council represents the town. Not just by having a town centre forum that meets now and again, but a town council that puts the town centre first to support the growing area and make Spalding a better town for all concerned.