Welcome back to Stamford
Efforts to promote economic recovery are being matched by a growing interest in protecting the historic environment, finds Melanie Burton.
Our traditional towns like Stamford, with its rich heritage and determined locals, are used to overcoming hurdles – and this year is no exception.
Bursting with history and character, it has plenty to offer visitors with 600 listed buildings, five medieval churches, quaint hidden alleyways, quirky shops and entertainment venues.
Proclaimed by Sir Walter Scott as “the finest stone town in England”, it was declared a conservation area in 1967 and last year it was voted the ‘best place to live’ in the Midlands region.
It has long been regarded for its thriving high street with coffee shops, restaurants and a range of niche retailers. But it was towns like Stamford that got hit the most by the pandemic, with the lockdowns and the restrictions on travel, events and gatherings.
Much work is now being done to support high streets like Stamford’s to get them back on the road to recovery.
South Kesteven District Council received a grant of just over £250,000 from the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely/Welcome Back Fund, which is backed by the European Regional Development Fund.
This is being used to deliver initiatives and activities designed to help town centres following the pandemic.
A marketing and promotions campaign involving a range of community and visitor events has been planned, along with a programme of maintenance and environmental improvements.
The first phase of the marketing and promotional push was delivered over the festive period and included a variety of street entertainers visiting Stamford, Bourne, Market Deeping and Grantham.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Kelham Cooke, said: “A key element of our corporate plan is delivering sustainable growth of the economy and, as part of our Covid-19 response, we recognise the importance of supporting the safe reopening of businesses in South Kesteven and welcoming back the community and visitors to the district’s tourism areas.
“The Welcome Back Fund presents a great opportunity to invest in the recovery of our market towns.
“There has been, and will continue to be, engagement with the business clubs in our towns, along with local business owners and leaders.
“Supporting a diverse range of community and visitor events has the potential to contribute positively to the health and well-being both of participants and audiences.
“It is anticipated that any events will contribute to a sense of community, local pride and cultural identity.”
Meanwhile a new development on the former Cummins factory site on the outskirts of Stamford is still on the cards and includes 190 homes, a retirement village of a further 150 homes, a series of business units, a convenience store and café as well as public open space and improved cycle and pedestrian access to parkland to the south of the site.
It is hoped around 825 jobs could be created by the development and that more than £2.8 million a year would be brought in by resident expenditure, business rates, council tax and a New Homes Bonus over at least the next four years.
The Cummins diesel generator manufacturing plant closed in 2018 and has been vacant ever since.
South Kesteven District Council purchased the site in 2019 and is working with Burghley Estates, owners of the greenfield land next door, on the plan.
However the plan was not without controversy. More than 33 objections were received, as well as further concerns from the Stamford Bypass Group and the Stukeley Court Residents’ Association.
Officers say there was “significant support” for the principle of the redevelopment, but there was “widespread concern at developing the field to the east” while objectors said the plans would cause further strain on local infrastructure including an increase in traffic.
Officers’ transport assessments however concluded that the development “would constitute a net reduction in vehicle movements to and from the site”.
CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE MERGER
Stamford Chamber of Commerce is also playing its part in helping the business, retail and hospitality sectors build business back up.
It has merged with Peterborough Chamber of Commerce to strengthen the support it provides to members and to facilitate collaboration and build strategic partnerships. It is hoped the merger will provide a way forward to better support both Peterborough and Stamford companies through bringing members closer together and ensuring Stamford businesses are represented on the Chamber Board.
The aim is to see the Chambers’ engagement and activity within the Peterborough and Stamford business community increasing to meet the changing needs of the membership and the rebuilding of the economy.
Chair of the Peterborough & Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Shaun Hindle, explained: “Bringing Peterborough and Stamford Chambers together presents a great opportunity for businesses in both areas to work more closely, develop business connections and learn from each other.
“As part of the recovery within our economy we want to enable the business community to grow and pursue new business opportunities. [The] Peterborough and Stamford business community will be stronger together.”
Chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, Vic Annells, added: “These changes will ensure that the Stamford business community continues to receive the best possible support from the Chambers.
“With stronger representation on the Board, greater involvement in the wider economic area including Peterborough, and provision of additional local expertise, we look forward to seeing members of the Peterborough and Stamford Chamber of Commerce thrive.”
Independent business owners in Stamford are also united in their quest to bring the public back to the high street through their Shop Stamford campaign.
They joined forces back in 2018 to launch the campaign to encourage shoppers to shop local. Now they are using it to encourage people to return to the town centre.
And the retail sector received a confidence boost just after the New Year with the news that the town’s Wilco store was not going to be one of the 15 earmarked for closure around the country.
The firm said the stores affected will close as leases end and favourable terms cannot be agreed, adding it will not affect its new openings or stores relocation programme.
Another big name store has also set up shop in the town, opening its first ever branch there and creating 36 jobs.
It was one of 15 new stores opened by Aldi in the UK towards the end of last year.
The new stores form part of Aldi’s commitment to invest more than £1.3 billion by 2023, with plans to open 100 new stores over the next two years.
ACTION ON CLIMATE
Retailers in Stamford have been asked to play an even bigger part in the fight to reduce the amount of plastic used in the community.
Shops have already substantially reduced the use of plastic shopping bags. Now the town’s Climate Action Working Group has written to the managers of all retail outlets in the Stamford area urging them to stop selling plastic water bottles.
Instead they have been asked to consider signing up to the ‘Refill Project’ where they provide customers with water to refill their own water bottles.
Chair of the group, Councillor Amanda Wheeler, said in the letter: “Stamford is striving to be a plastic-free town and Stamford Town Council voted to support plastic-free initiatives in the town.
“Today one of the main blights in our town is plastic bottles. They are bought cheaply and disposed of carelessly.
“A plastic bottle may cost as little as 50 pence but the environmental cost is so much more. A single use plastic water bottle takes 400 years to break down.”
South Kesteven District Council has supported the installation of four water refill stations, one of which will be in Stamford.
Councillor Wheeler added that 7.7 million plastic bottles are purchased across the UK every year, equivalent to about 150 per person per year.
“Every morning the Pride of Stamford Litter Pickers discover plastic bottles in nooks and crannies all over the town,” she said.
“94 per cent of plastic from water bottles isn’t recyclable and ends up in our oceans, polluting waters and disrupting our ecosystems. By 2050 it is estimated that the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.”
Stamford Town Council’s Climate Action Group first formed in February last year so the town as a community can manage and reduce its carbon footprint. It meets every month and implements as many initiatives as possible that support the objective of the group.
MALLARD PASS SOLAR FARM
Alongside these actions to protect the local environment, concerns are growing that Lincolnshire is being seen as ‘easy pickings’ for large scale solar farms aiming to help the UK reach its climate change targets.
Lincolnshire County Council is now aware of five such proposals in the county, all utilising agricultural land.
The proposals, which include sites at Cottam, West Burton and Gate Burton near Gainsborough, are all classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects which means they will ultimately be decided by the Secretary of State.
The latest proposal, from Windel Energy and Canadian Solar, would see 880 hectares of land near Stamford utilised for solar power generation.
Executive Councillor for Environment and Strategic Planning at Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Colin Davie, said: “The scale and rapidity of these proposals are ringing alarm bells with councils and residents.
“Renewable energy will play a part in the country’s energy generation strategy, but solar power generation on this scale is neither reliable, appropriate or desirable.
“Again, decisions about these proposals will be taken by the Secretary of State as to whether they are permitted, but we will be making it very clear that our county and its valuable agricultural land shouldn’t be an easy target for unsuitable developments.
“Lincolnshire’s agricultural land has the capacity to make a significant contribution to the UK’s food security, so I will be asking developers to demonstrate the benefits and costs of their proposals in terms of the additional carbon output from the import of food that could have been produced on this land.
“It is important that all local authorities, as consultees, make sure our residents’ views are heard about the plans, as the scale and size of the proposals are truly enormous.”
Lincolnshire County Council expects to formally consider the proposals this spring.
Developers are wanting to create one of the UK’s biggest solar farms on the Lincolnshire and Rutland border in the next five years.
Called The Mallard Pass Solar Farm it would cover more than 2,000 acres (8 sq km) and generate enough power for 92,000 homes.
Developers said, if approved, it would deliver reliable and sustainable low-cost energy.
The proposal will generate in the region of 350 megawatts of renewable energy, and will be located on around 880 hectares of land, which is equivalent to 2,175 acres. It has the potential to power in the region of 92,000 UK homes, approximately the number of households in Rutland and South Kesteven combined.
Mallard Pass Solar Farm could take the equivalent of 35,700 cars off the road.
Stamford Town Council has sent a letter to the developers outlining its case against the solar farm plan and though the proposed area of development is nearer Essendine and Carlby than Stamford, people in the town were asked for feedback on it in the first phase of consultations.
The ‘stage 2’ consultation, the statutory consultation which the developer is obliged to carry out – is due to take place in spring.
Councillor Davie added: “We absolutely support a net-zero carbon Lincolnshire. As a council we are leading the way with a commitment to cut our emissions by 68% by 2025 – five years earlier than the UK Government’s plan.
“But we also have a responsibility to protect our heritage and landscape. Therefore, we cannot agree that large scale commercial wind farm developments on county land are the solution.”
THE RUG STUDIO OFFERING A PERSONAL TOUCH
Whilst wooden floors and flagstones may be practical in a country home, the addition of a hand-woven rug or carpet really adds the warmth, style and finishing touch to a home. Formerly based in Uppingham, the expert team at The Rug Studio relocated to the heart of Stamford in 2019, where clients in search of a perfect woven design to enhance their home enjoy an unrivalled individual service.
With more than 27 years’ experience in sales, cleaning and restoration of treasured Oriental and European rugs, carpets, kilims and textiles, The Rug Studio also offers a highly acclaimed personalised bespoke design service for those looking for a truly unique piece.
“We offer a full bespoke service from design to production to placing the rug in situ, working closely with our client through the entire process.”
At the studio you will find hundreds of stunning new contemporary designs, as well as traditional and antique rugs from all over the world, including Iran, India, Afghanistan, China and Turkey, made from both wool and silk.
Proprietor Rachel Bassill is a qualified rug weaver who has worked in Turkey, India and Egypt and is passionate about her profession working closely with both private clients and interior designers to help them find the perfect piece to suit every style and home, reflecting an individual’s lifestyle and personal tastes.
“Our expert team aid our clients in achieving their ideal environment, including what atmosphere they would like a space to achieve, traffic level it will receive as well as the obvious questions of colour and size.
“As highly skilled and trained professionals, we can guide and help in the choosing of a purchase from the studio at market led prices and closely follow not only UK, but international fashion too.”
Services offered by The Rug Studio include professional cleaning, restoration, sales, and bespoke design.
The Stamford based studio is open Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm and by appointment in the afternoons and weekends, or you can schedule an at home appointment.
For more information visit www.therugstudio.co.uk
HIGH PRAISE FOR STAFF AT COUNTRY COURT CARE HOMES
The teams at Country Court Care Homes in Lincoln have been celebrating their annual Country Court Staff Awards.
The awards were presented by Country Court co-CEO Alykhan Kachra and chairman Abdul Kachra, who were delighted to attend the awards ceremony in person. In 2020 the lockdown meant the awards had to be presented virtually.
There were over 1,000 nominations across the group from staff and residents and their families.
“The Country Court Board of Directors are delighted to attend the staff awards at our care and nursing homes in person this year,” said Alykhan Kachra.
“We are very proud of our staff teams and the awards are a great opportunity to celebrate and thank everyone. We have amazing care staff in our homes, they work incredibly hard every day to make a huge difference to the lives of our residents. We are truly humbled to see how our staff teams continue to face the challenges of the pandemic with tenacity and unending cheerfulness.”
The winners at Eccleshare Court Care & Nursing Home were: ‘Team Member’ Kerrie Korver, ‘Care Hero’ Dawn Ridley and ‘Our Values’ Cathy Trevor. At Neale Court the winners were Helen Foster, Gary Wilson and Becky Bourke. The Ruckland Court winners were Stacy Poucher, Denise Lawson and Michelle Middleton. The winners at Swanholme Court were Marie Fletcher, Nicola Sherwood and Zuzanna Pawlus.
Nominating Kerrie for an award, one member of staff said: “Kerrie is a great senior care assistant, she always supports staff, she always works in a person-centred approach with each individual we care for within our home.”
Another staff member commented: “Kerrie always puts a smile on the residents’ faces and staff love to work with her.”
The awards go to staff who have gone above and beyond to exemplify the family values at the heart of each Country Court home. The Board of Directors review all of the nominations and select three winners for each care home in the Country Court Group.
To find out more about the 2021 Awards visit the Country Court Facebook pages: @ecclesharecourt,
@nealecourtcarehome, @lincolncarehome or @swanholmecourt
BATEMANS IS TOP CHOICE UNDER THE HAMMER
As trusted professionals, Batemans have earned their reputation as the leading Auction House and Valuers in Stamford and Rutland, and are long time members of The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers (SOFAA).
Established in 2001, Batemans provides regular auction sales for antiques, jewellery, watches, silver, gold, coins, collectables, objets d’art, clocks and furniture, as well as Asian and Fine Art works.
Best known for selling the unique 22ct gold Cadbury’s ‘Conundrum’ egg – twice! most recently for £37,200 (incl. 20% BP) – here you can find all manner of treasures and collectables, ranging from tens of pounds in value to special pieces over £10,000, with at least 19 auctions scheduled this year.
Managing director and senior valuer Greg Bateman explains: “As well as our friendly, and above all honest advice, we work incredibly hard to promote each and every lot we offer to maximum effect – nearly all have numerous images (go online to look around a particular item) and our descriptions are as accurate and informative as possible, including sizes and weights.
“By giving bidders as much information as you can, the chance of an item selling well is increased enormously.
“We are a small team, but pride ourselves on getting a huge amount done. Our team includes principal auctioneer
David Palmer, who has 30 years’ experience and always makes an impression with his wit and snazzy waistcoats; sales manager and valuer Rupert Pink; office manager and junior valuer Melanie Anderson; and saleroom manager and porter Clive Giddings, who is responsible for collections and deliveries in our van.
“We take and process over 2,000 photographs, write an 8,000-word catalogue, handle up to 300 sellers and more than 1,000 bidders, all to help successfully sell an average of 500 lots every single month!
“With our selling fees lower than all our local competition, we look forward to impressing even more customers that want to use our fantastic services!”
Batemans also carry out probate and insurance valuations, complete house clearances, and can arrange private sales for items of higher value.
For more information visit www.batemans.com
SHOW YOUR LOVE WITH A GLITTERING GIFT
If you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day present that shows your appreciation for your much loved partner, independent jewellers Dawson of Stamford is first choice for those in search of something special.
As established specialists in fine and antique jewellery and silverware, this family owned shop in Red Lion Square also offers an extensive collection of gold, silver and antique estate jewellery, as well as clocks, furniture and beautifully decorative interior pieces.
If the special person in your life loves to wear stunning pieces of jewellery, you will find a wide choice of top quality new 18ct gold and platinum jewellery to suit every taste and budget, with Dawson’s friendly and knowledgeable team on hand to guide and advise you.
For more information visit www.dawsonofstamford.com
Photographs: Mick Fox