Town at crossroads with opportunities
Grants to help enhance the town scene and new networking opportunities are among the schemes to boost Grantham’s prospects following the pandemic, as Melanie Burton discovers.
A successful funding bid by South Kesteven District Council means that vacant upper floor space over shops and other premises in Grantham can be brought back into use, helping to reinvigorate the town centre and make it a more attractive place to live and visit following the challenges of the past two years.
Grants of up to £25,000 for each upper floor unit created are available to the owners of buildings in the main retail area of Grantham covering Westgate, Market Place and High Street.
The money is part of the £5.56 million secured from the government’s Future High Streets Fund programme, designed to help renew and reshape town centres and high streets.
The Upper Floor Grant Programme was launched in February.
Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Councillor Kelham Cooke, said: “These grants offer a fantastic opportunity for the owners of town centre accommodation, commercial or leisure buildings to transform currently under-used upper floor areas.
“These vibrant new spaces will help reinvigorate the town centre by attracting new occupiers, thereby increasing demand and footfall for local businesses.
“The programme will establish a model for the delivery of high-quality town centre living in Grantham that maximises energy efficiency and preserves the historic fabric of buildings.”
Owners of historic buildings in the same areas may also be eligible for separate funding from Grantham’s £1.25 million share of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme from Historic England.
Grants of up to £25,000 for the reinstatement or repair of shopfronts are available.
Businesses in Grantham’s hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors affected by the impact of the Omicron variant could also be eligible for a share of just over £1.5m made available for distribution by South Kesteven District Council.
SKDC has been allocated £1,266,093 as part of the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme announced in December last year.
This includes businesses whose main function is providing a venue for the consumption and sale of food and drink; providing facilities linked to recreation and entertainment; or businesses whose main premises are used for holiday accommodation.
In addition, there has been a further £253,940 top-up to the existing Additional Restrictions Grant fund for businesses ineligible for the new grant.
Councillor Cooke explained: “Through the work of the team at InvestSK, SKDC has been helping to navigate local businesses through the pandemic, including distributing support grants to those most heavily impacted by the virus.
“I know the Omicron variant had a massive impact on businesses during the festive season, which was a vital period for many.
“This funding allows the council to continue supporting businesses across the district, particularly those in the hospitality and leisure industries that were among the first to close due to the pandemic, and the last to reopen.”
The scheme was launched in January.
Businesses are also being encouraged to showcase themselves at a special event taking place later this month.
The Development Partner Network and Queen Bee & Co have announced their first joint venture, the Big Business event, which will be a pinnacle business showcase event for small to large businesses based in the East Midlands who are looking to grow their network, collaborate with other businesses, gain leads and be inspired by others.
The event will take place on Wednesday 27th April at the Arena UK Show Centre in Allington, just off the A1 near Grantham, and its primary aim is to bring businesses together from across the area providing a forum for networking opportunities.
With more than 100 exhibition spaces, the event is the perfect marketing platform to showcase businesses.
GREAT BRITISH RAILWAY BID
Located just off the major A1 road and on the East Coast mainline to London and the north, Grantham has long been a popular base for businesses with its easy access routes.
So it is not surprising to hear that a bid has been launched for the town to host the Great British Railway Headquarters.
Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council will be putting a joint expression of interest to the government following a competition launched earlier this year for areas to put themselves forward to host the HQ outside of London.
Councillor Kelham Cooke said: “Grantham is at an exciting crossroads with significant investment opportunities and extensive plans for the future, supported by central government funding.
“Grantham not only has a proud railway heritage but is also a key strategic location for rail commuters and travellers, being just over an hour from London – connecting north and south, as well as east and west.”
In addition buses and light rail operators will benefit from more than £150m of government support, ensuring services continue to run.
Not only will this new funding support local operators and authorities as they adapt to changing travel patterns and work on delivering local bus service improvements; it will also help the continued delivery of enhanced partnerships, with local authorities working closely with bus companies to draw on their operating knowledge and marketing skills.
To celebrate the return of a full timetabled service, Hull Trains (which serves Grantham), is launching a special ticket promotion to encourage families to travel together this Easter.
The company recently announced that all services had gone back on sale to passengers with a full timetable of 94 services a week, the highest level ever offered in the history of Hull Trains.
It has now announced a new ‘cheap family seats’ promotional campaign to make Easter trips more appealing to families. The offer is flexible and also available to parents travelling alone.
Managing director David Gibson said: “Lighter nights and brighter days are on the horizon so many families will be in the process of considering their plans for Easter.
“Passenger numbers continue to increase so it is clear to see that confidence is returning to rail travel.”
Just four months after MV Commercial secured a new future for trailer and rigid manufacturer Fruehauf, production at the 67-acre Grantham site off Houghton Road is seeing the benefit of a multi-million pound investement.
The landmark deal includes an immediate cash injection and a commitment to a further £30m investment over the next three years, as part of ambitious plans to modernise the manufacturing facility and realise the full potential of the 67-acre site in Grantham.
Managing director Steven Cairns said: “We are already producing 12 units a week and as we start to see the results of the introduction of new build lines and state-of-the-art equipment we anticipate that number reaching 20 a week before the end of the year.
Initially production at the facility is focused on tipping trailers with several new products scheduled for launch this year.
As well as increased production the company is also growing its workforce which has seen an additional 30 new staff join since October and plans are being finalised for employment to reach 175 before the end of the year.
MV Commercial completed a multi-million pound deal to acquire Fruehauf out of administration in October last year.
The deal saw MV provide a secure future for the well-known brand as well as protecting 120 jobs.
QUEEN’S JUBILEE TREE
A rare wild service tree has been planted in Queen Elizabeth Park in Grantham to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The tree, donated by the Lincolnshire Gardens Trust, is seen as a gate guardian to the Diamond Grove of 60 silver birch trees around an English oak, planted by the Trust in 2012 with the help of local schoolchildren to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
South Kesteven District Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Adam Stokes said: “Queen Elizabeth Park is very much the town’s country park, full of trees, and this special donation is a fitting addition.
“As a council we are committed to planting more trees. We all know how important they are in improving biodiversity, creating shade and capturing and storing carbon dioxide, all of which contribute to the council’s carbon reduction programme.”
Planting also included 70 wildflower plants, including purple violets, to mark the Queen’s 70 years of dedicated service to the country.
Fruits of the wild service tree, also known as chequers, are said to taste like dates and were once given to children as sweets. They can be made into an alcoholic drink and it is thought they influenced the naming of the prolific Chequers Inns across the UK.
Lincolnshire Gardens Trust was first founded in 1995 as a garden conservation and education charity, with the pandemic awakening many more people to the value of green spaces and the many benefits for health and wellbeing.
It is committed to encouraging all ages in the enjoyment and care of the many varied historic gardens, parks and designed landscapes throughout Lincolnshire.
Five native rowan trees have also been planted in Dysart Park as part of SKDC’s contribution to the Queen’s Green Canopy.
The trees have been funded from the authority’s climate change reserve fund and are part of environmental improvements, including a wildflower meadow, delivered by the council’s Blue Green Corridor partnership project alongside the River Witham.
Wildflower meadow clearance and seeding work on the site of the old swimming pool has been helped by individuals working under supervision from Community Payback, where sentences require community service.
Six bird boxes made by Community Payback will be installed in existing trees and another area has been dedicated to insect and wildlife friendly habitat piles.
SKDC Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Cllr Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, said: “Tree planting is a valuable part of our wider ambitions regarding the climate challenges we face, and we are delighted to play our part in helping to create the Queen’s Green Canopy.”
Wildflowers, chosen after consultation with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust to benefit bees and insects, will include foxgloves, cornflowers, red clover, ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, vetch and vivid colour teasels.
The Blue Green Corridor project runs from Dysart Park through Wyndham Park, into Queen Elizabeth Park to Belton Park. Its blue element is the river and the green element represents the riverbanks, green spaces and parks nearby.
Funded largely by the European Regional Development Fund, the programme is a partnership between South Kesteven District Council, North Kesteven District Council, the Environment Agency and the National Trust.
Lots of other Jubilee events are being planned for Grantham and the surrounding district to celebrate Her Majesty’s reign, which will see an influx of visitors to the area as well as increased footfall in the town centre, giving the local economy a long-awaited boost.
PANTO TICKETS SELLING FAST
The curtain may not be going up for another eight months, but ticket sales for this year’s Christmas panto at Grantham’s Guildhall Arts Centre have already topped the 1,000 mark.
South Kesteven District Council’s arts team is working with Polka Dot Pantomimes to present Rapunzel –
A TANGLED TALE!
The show, based on the classic fairytale about a girl with magical hair who is locked in a tower, starts its four-week run on Saturday 3rd December and tickets are already selling fast. The first 100 sold within an hour of going on sale.
Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew said: “Tickets are selling so fast that we are looking forward to sell-out shows and I’d recommend booking early to avoid disappointment.
“Panto at the Guildhall is a festive tradition and a firm family favourite with audience members of all ages.”
As usual there will be plenty of audience participation, plus lots of laughter, singing and spectacular special effects.
There will be a relaxed performance on Saturday 17th December at 10.30am and, for the first time, a signed performance on Sunday 11th December for those with hearing impairments.
The Guildhall Arts Centre has a packed programme of entertainment this month, with something on offer for all ages from dancing, singing and puppetry for the youngsters to Shakespeare and opera for the grown-ups.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, BECAUSE WE DO!
We have something for everyone at Grantham College! Whether you are a school leaver, adult or employer, we can help you fulfil your potential, often at little or no cost.
We are continually investing in our staff and facilities to ensure our provision remains current and in line with the needs of all our stakeholders. In 2018 we opened our University Centre: a dedicated and bespoke learning and social space for our HE community. The University Centre offers a wide range of university level courses in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University, Edexcel, and Pearson. We deliver in a wide range of subject areas, including Business and Professional courses, Creative Industries courses, Engineering and Digital Technologies courses, Health, Social Care and Teaching courses, Science, Sport, and Services courses.
In November 2021 we opened the doors to our brand-new Institute of Technology, a prestigious multi-million pound and high-quality employer-led institution delivering higher level technical education with a clear route to high skilled employment. Our IoT site sees the historic Grade II listed Stonebridge House converted into a state-of-the-art Engineering, Science and Digital Skills hub. The building is equipped with IT design studios, digital technology suites, and engineering robotics facilities.
We are also investing in a multi-million-pound major refurbishment project which will result in the opening of a brand new cutting-edge Renewable Energy Centre in April 2022. The new centre showcases our commitment to sustainability and will house new courses in electrical installation, plumbing, and renewable energies including solar, wind, and air source heating.
To find out where Grantham College & University Centre could take you, visit the website at
www.grantham.ac.uk or call 01476 400200.
STIHL’S MOST POWERFUL CORDLESS CHAINSAW
Available at your local Chandlers Country Stores.
The new STIHL MSA 300 is the most powerful cordless chainsaw in the AP System. Suitable for felling, cross-cutting, snedding and processing, the MSA 300 offers forestry professionals, arborists and landscapers plenty of power for taking on larger cutting tasks.
Powered by the new AP 500 S battery, the MSA 300 is recommended with a 16″ Light 04 guide bar and .325″ RS Pro chain for fast cutting. The recommended cutting attachments are identical to the popular MS 261 C-M, with a maximum recommended guide bar length of 18″.
The MSA 300 is compact, well balanced and features STIHL’s anti-vibration system for comfortable working over long durations. Other features include a captive nut on the sprocket cover, an adjustable oil pump, durable die-cast magnesium components and an air filter to aid effective air cooling.
Also featured in this model is an LED digital display for active user notifications, showing the operating mode in use, the status of the chain brake position, the on/off status and even temperature warnings to prevent overheating.
Three operating modes limit the maximum chain speed, helping to match the performance to the task at hand and extend the battery run-time. Eco mode limits the chain speed to 24m/s and is ideal for cutting smaller logs, while the highest performing mode features a 30m/s chain speed ideal for felling cuts and fast working.
The MSA 300 is compatible with the STIHL Smart Connector 2 A, plugging directly into the control module to collect valuable data such as run-time and operating speed history. This data syncs to the user’s smartphone and informs the user exactly when maintenance tasks should be completed, improving efficiency and helping to reduce machine downtime.
For more information on STIHL’s new MSA 300 or its range of professional cordless tools visit www.chandlers.co.uk
Photographs: Mick Fox