Letters to the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian editor – May 19 and 21, 2020
There were no other ideas
Oh, dear! Mr Clery’s letter in your May 12 issue is so, so wrong, despite my having at least twice, in detail, explained to him the history of the S106 community and further ‘release clause’ monies from Sutton Bridge Power Station.
When the power station was going to be built, the then district council chief executive asked me, as local member, who did I want to negotiate with for the community benefits (not Section 106 money).I remember saying “Nobody here, thank you. I will do it!”
I then contacted a parish councillor from each of the three other parishes which had a direct view of the proposed station – Tydd St Mary, Tydd St Giles in Cambridgeshire, and Walpole Cross Keys in Norfolk, as well as Sutton Bridge.
We started to talk at length with the developers of the station. Some time later the then chief executive of the firm, which was Enron Europe, rang me and asked if they could meet the four of us.
He offered us £250,000 and we managed to negotiate it up to £625,000.I then drew a three-mile circle on the map around the site and said “Only those four parishes with a direct view of the station must benefit.”
That decision, covering four parishes in three counties and two regions, is unique, and of it I have always been immensely proud.
About a decade later, the then operating company wished to be released from a planning condition which required them to provide heat to possible neighbouring industrial sites.
When that release clause came to the district council for approval, for a sum just over £1million, a clause suggested that the money be spent within five years.I remember saying “Five years goes by very quickly, Mr Chairman, and I propose that the relevant period be extended to ten years.”
Members of the district council agreed with me and had I not done that, the bulk of the money would have gone back to the power station operators, the Curlew Centre would not have been built and so on.
Coming to the marina. Aproposal for one at Sutton Bridge had become bogged down and raised mixed feelings locally. At that time, apart from a vague hope, no firm proposal whatsoever had been made for a new pavilion.
I did concur with the idea of the marina when it was suggested to me, to use county monies and the remaining ‘release clause’ funds, because the ten years were almost exhausted and urgency meant that the remaining money would otherwise have had to be returned to the Power Station if unused.
They are only ‘muddy moorings’ at ‘spring low tides’ (full and new moon times). I will take no lectures from Mr Clery on appropriate use of funds which would no longer have existed for community use and I did not ‘propose and push’ the idea. That is patently untrue.
The use of the community money has always been subject to the power station’s liaison group’s sub-committee, and it entitled groups and organisations which benefit people in any, or all of the four parishes, to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 in alternate years.
Wisdom after the event appears to be one of your correspondent’s specialities.
It may well be that there could have been better ideas, but none came forward in the nine-and-a-half years which had by then elapsed. As to the last paragraph - Mr Clery appears to have given the parishioners an opportunity to be misinformed by him!
Supermarket workers should be paid fairly
With lockdown measures now in place for more than a month, the general public has come to appreciate the efforts of supermarket staff working on the frontline.
Finally, they are being recognised as key workers and people are starting to say what law firm Leigh Day has being saying all along – shop workers deserve to be paid fairly.
As demand has increased, supermarket workers have been praised for their dedication. But recognition isn’t all they need. What they need most is equal pay.
Each day they are putting themselves at an increased risk to keep everyone else’s fridges and cupboards stocked. Yet they are paid less than their colleagues in warehouses and distribution centres.
To us at Leigh Day that doesn’t seem right. And that’s why we are acting for more than 40,000 supermarket workers in their equal pay battle.
We are challenging this unequal situation for the women and men working long hours in stores and helping the rest of us to keep some sense of normality in these uncertain times.
But there are tens of thousands of other shop floor employees who Leigh Day is not yet supporting and who’d we urge to join our Equal Pay Now campaign.
It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for Britain to recognise the value of supermarket workers, but now that attitudes are taking a welcome turn, it’s time they are paid a wage that reflects the hard work they do.
More information about the claims can be found at www.equalpaynow.co.uk
Leigh Day employment team
Make a will and help hospice
The award-winning St Barnabas ‘Make a Will Month’ scheme has returned once again for 2020, after the Hospice and partner solicitors cleverly adapted the service to make it virtual. This service enables St Barnabas supporters to make a basic will completely free of charge.
Joining St Barnabas with this scheme are solicitors from Dale & Co, Roythornes and Sills & Betteridge. These three companies will be helping supporters to make their will via telephone appointments and providing answers to any questions they might have.
For online wills, the hospice has teamed up with bereavement support specialists Guardian Angel to give supporters the chance to make their will online in around 15-30 minutes.
Since we re-launched the scheme in 2018, it has supported so many people to start planning for the future. Although we are in the middle of a pandemic, we recognise that it is now more important than ever for our supporters to sort out their life admin and make sure things are in place.
Normally we would offer face-to-face appointments with local solicitor firms, but this just isn’t possible because of lockdown. We would like to thank our three solicitor partners for adapting to help us keep the scheme running.
I am also really excited that the hospice will be providing FREE online wills for the first time in history. This opens up the service to those who struggle to attend appointments during working hours, and particularly our incredible key workers with varying shift patterns.
Patients at the hospice who are living with a life-limiting or terminal illness, and their families and carers, are reliant on supporters leaving a gift to St Barnabas in their will. This gift will help them access free, compassionate end-of-life care when they need it most, both now and for patients in the future.
A gift of just 1% of your estate could go on to give precious, pain-free time with family to a local patient at the end of their life.
Visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/legacy where you can sign up and make your appointment.
St Barnabas Hospice
Let’s hold a virtual picnic
We may not be able to hold picnics in the usual way just yet, but why not hold the next best thing – a virtual picnic? That way you can invite as many people as you want! National charity Family Action is running its Virtual Family Picnic from Saturday to Tuesday and everyone is invited.
The charity has created a free pack full of tips, ideas and videos to help people to host their own virtual picnic.
You can hold your picnic in your garden, on your balcony or on the living room floor. Just find some space, make some tasty treats and connect with friends and family online.
Although we are all still respecting social distancing and cannot meet in groups, we can still share experiences together and create happy memories.
And when lockdown finally ends we can do it all again, but this time in person.
To find out more and to get your free pack go to www.family-action.org.uk/get-involved/virtual-family-picnic/
David Holmes CBE
CEO Family Action
Car show rooms need to re-open
As manufacturers return to work, best practice guidance can ensure a safe return to work, with social distancing and appropriate PPE being vital for all concerned.
With both the UK’s new car market and used car market – which declined 8.3% during Q1 2020, according to the latest figures released by the Society Of Motor Manufacturers & Traders ( SMMT) this week – severely impacted by the lock-down, it is imperative that automotive retailers are allowed to open now to reboot manufacturing and support the UK’s economic recovery.
Following the announce-ments at the beginning of the week, and some confusion that resulted, SMMT sought urgent clarification from the Government on click and collect services for automotive retailers.
While it is a welcome development that retailers can now operate contactless click and collect services from outside their premises, showrooms must still remain closed. For a number of reasons, this needs to change.
There is clearly pent up demand in the market, and the opening of showrooms will be a crucial step in rebooting not only the wider industry but also in helping to support the UK’s economic recovery.
The tax income alone on new car sales represents a major contributor to the Treasury, and with no activity this revenue stream lies dormant.
Furthermore, manufac-turing plants need an outlet for their products if they are to reopen and ports need to be relieved of some of the stock that has built up during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The UK’s automotive retail industry stands ready to reopen under new guidelines that would ensure all showrooms are safe spaces for customers and employees alike as we exit lock-down.
Some major manufacturers have started to return to work recently, albeit at a reduced capacity. This reflects global trends where manufacturing and retail markets are beginning to open.
The COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme has provided a lifeline for many in the automotive sector so its extension recently is very welcome, providing longer-term reassurance to manufacturers and workers during these unprecedented times.
I welcome the adjustment to allow part-time working for furloughed staff as this will answer industry calls for greater flexibility to deliver a safe and successful restart that will support the UK’s overall recovery.
I understand full details about the changes will be published by the end of May.
The sooner that flexibility is enabled, the better for all concerned.