Forging ahead despite BID farewell
Sleaford’s popularity as a place to live, work and visit shows no signs of slowing down.
This bustling market town is already home to thousands of families and boasts a lively mix of shops, attractions and events – although those not already in the know will need time to discover them.
The town centre features a blend of national names and independent shops, but you need to explore its interesting precincts too, to get the full picture.
Sleaford also boasts a range of schools, leisure facilities, places to eat out and the chance to simply take a break and enjoy a stroll alongside the River Slea.
But it is a place which is also facing uncertainties. Plans for a new link road from Boston to Mareham Lane – which would allow for the closure of the town’s railway crossing, provide a route to a new Tesco store and also allow for the regeneration of Sleaford’s Bass Maltings – remain a hot topic of conversation.
As we went to press, it was understood that Sleaford Town Council still does not wish to sell recreation land needed for this new route to North Kesteven District Council (NKDC).
Sleaford BID (Business Improvement District) which has been supporting businesses and helping to promote the town and its events over the past five years, has also recently announced it was unsuccessful in its five-year renewal ballot.
Meanwhile, NKDC is asking businesses and individuals how they would like their town to look and operate in the future, so that it ‘works well’ and meets everyone’s needs.
This vision includes proposals for thousands of new homes, along with employment sites, schools and neighbourhood shops.
It is against this backdrop that Sleaford continues to expand and attract new businesses, including those determined to offer goods that are not available on every High Street, as well as personal service.
Southgate is at the centre of Sleaford’s shopping offering, but there are numerous other parts of the town which are well worth discovering, including White Hart Mews, Millstream Square, and the Riverside Centre.
Mum and daughter, Debra and Kelly Cowell launched Riverside unisex hairdressing salon Envvy earlier this year. They have never looked back and already employ two people.
“I have previously worked for salons in Lincoln and Sleaford and had a good following. Having my own salon was a natural next step,” said Kelly.
“We are local people and we employ local stylists. We hope we are helping to bring the Riverside to life and business has been absolutely fantastic so far. We are also tying up with Lincoln College and giving apprentices a chance,” said Debra.
Sleaford’s amazing range of owner-managed businesses also include family-run independent Bennellies, a baby and childrenswear and accessories shop. Its owners decided to open a shop after successfully establishing the business online.
Ray Black is managing director of Money Minder in Sleaford. He believes the town has been holding its own in recent months, but says there are still plenty of issues to be tackled.
“Sleaford has shown real resilience to the many economic problems being experienced all over the UK and abroad. It’s a credit to the people who live and work here
and shows just how dedicated and passionate the people and businesses in Sleaford are,” said Mr Black.
“In my opinion, now would be an excellent time to see some of our infrastructure needs taken care of and I would love to see some more direct support for local businesses, which work hard to keep themselves moving forward.
“We need a strong and dynamic organisation to address these needs and now we know that the BID’s door is being firmly closed, I really do hope that a fresh and vibrant proposition will succeed it.
“It’s very important that new opportunities are found for the residents and businesses of our very special market town, if we’d like to see it continue to prosper and I’m sure that with the right leadership and guidance they can be found.”
Sleaford BID staff and directors shared their disappointment after the business group failed to get a mandate to continue its work for a further five years. In a renewal ballot of its 660 levy payers, the BID was unable to achieve the required number and value of ‘Yes’ votes needed to build on the work it has done over the past five years.
In order to forge ahead, and potentially spend over £550,000 in helping Sleaford to grow over the next five years, at least fifty per cent of the BID’s levy payers who voted had to vote ‘Yes’ and the aggregate rateable value of those which did had to add up to more than the RV for those which said ‘No’.
The count ultimately revealed that only forty-six per cent voted ‘Yes’.
BID Manager, Emma Batty said: “We are extremely disappointed about the result. This will have a negative impact on Sleaford.
“We were very keen to build on the successes which we have seen over the past five years and to introduce a range of new initiatives to support traders in the town centre and the industrial estates.
“Sadly, this result means that funding for the promotion of the town itself is withdrawn, there is no investment for other areas and our popular seven-nights-a-week Security Patrols, will stop from 1st October.
“I would like to say a big thank you to those businesses which have supported us, because we would have liked to have continued and to have delivered further improvements in Sleaford.”
Mrs Batty also thanked colleagues at North Kesteven District Council, and other partners which the BID has worked with, for helping it to achieve all it has during its time in the town.”
BID Chairman John Elkington said: “It’s very sad that all the time, effort and money that has been invested in Sleaford during the BID’s current term won’t now be rolled over into a second term.
“Understandably, the current economic climate has not helped, but there is always the wider picture to be considered. I always felt that that was where the BID could help. The potential funding of the town’s CCTV will not now happen and the security patrols will have to cease. These are two of the more obvious benefits that will be immediately affected.
“I would like to thank all the businesses that have supported us over the last five years and all the BID board directors that have given their time voluntarily to help it carry out its objectives.
“A very special thanks must go to Emma Batty who has worked tirelessly as BID manager, sometimes during unsociable hours. Graham Stevens and Oliver Brumpton, the security officers, also deserve a big thank you for all their efforts.
”Someone once asked me what the BID did? My reply was, ‘We make a difference’, that difference will now no longer be there!”
HAVE YOUR SAY
Individuals, representatives from businesses and anyone else with an interest in Sleaford’s future are urged to share their views on what it should look like in the years to come.
North Kesteven District Council said that, coupled with the Sleaford Masterplan, an emerging draft local plan for the whole of central Lincolnshire sets out a vision to promote the town’s development for the next generation.
A NKDC spokesman said: “It includes scope for a further 4,500 homes, clustered principally into two large development sites, called sustainable urban extensions.”
Then there is land for employment use, new primary schools, a relocated secondary school and neighbourhood shops.
However, rather than being a concrete gameplan for the future, this is a planning blueprint, setting out the parameters within which development proposals will be assessed over the next twenty years. People are now being urged to have their say, as part of a consultation ending on 10th September.
Suggestions laid out for Sleaford form a small part of the wider policies for the future development of the entire 820 square miles of central Lincolnshire (including North Kesteven, West Lindsey and the City of Lincoln Council areas). These are designed to meet an anticipated population growth of 86,000 people, by building 42,000 new homes and creating 25,000 new jobs.”
Among the suggested proposals are:
To the east of the A15, west of Sleaford – 1,750 homes, at least three hectares of industrial, employment land, a district centre featuring shops, services and community facilities, primary and secondary schools and a new road junction with the A15.
To the south of London Road – 1,600 homes, small scale industry, small offices and start-up business premises, a district centre of shops, services and community facilities and a primary school.
Comments can be made in writing on forms downloaded from www.central-lincs.org.uk or people can call the joint planning unit on (01522) 308084.
CHARLOTTE’S WINNING WAYS
Sleaford’s Charlotte Bryan has been named as one of the thirty young rising stars of the manufacturing world, by business minister, Mark Prisk.
The twenty-four-year-old, who is a trainee designer at David Nieper in Derbyshire is among the Make it in Great Britain 30 Under 30, which includes talented people from companies such as Pendennis Shipyard and GlaxoSmithKline.
A true high-flyer, she stood out from her peers by demonstrating passion, enthusiasm and ambition for what she does.
Charlotte joined David Nieper straight from university after winning a paid internship at the Alfreton fashion house, which designs and makes all its women’s clothing and lingerie in the UK.
The trainee designer will now go on to act as an ambassador for the Make it in Great Britain campaign, which aims to challenge outdated opinions and transform the image of modern manufacturing. She will have a special role in engaging with other young people, to ensure that the next generation is aware of the great jobs and careers in the industry.
Charlotte said: “It is a great privilege to be chosen especially as I’m the only person representing the fashion manufacturing industry. I got my big break after winning a paid internship, and know first hand the importance of getting experience in a real-life manufacturing environment.
“We’ve already been working with local schools to pass on fashion manufacturing skills, so this is a great opportunity to hopefully inspire more young people to consider a career in manufacturing.”
The Make it in Great Britain campaign culminates in an exhibition at the Science Museum, which runs from 24th July until 9th September.