Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 27 July 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

The county has missed out on the possibility of 150 new jobs after William Sinclair announced that a planned expansion was going to take place on land purchased in Cheshire. The horticultural supply firm had been searching for land in Lincolnshire to carry out their plans without success. They say planning rules scuppered the move. Peter Williams, finance director at William Sinclair, said: "We have been searching for some time and we have looked in great detail at about 50 sites, many in Lincolnshire. We had extensive conversations with North Kesteven District Council about a few sites in particular. The biggest problem we had was that we needed lots of space to store pallets of compost.

"We would need to get planning permission to store the compost but if you get that permission, then you can build warehouses and offices on the land too.

"There is more value in selling land for warehouses and offices.

"It has been quite difficult finding sites that will allow us to put pallets on them that are still cheap, but Ellesmere Port was the solution to that." The company stressed that no Lincolnshire jobs will be at threat as a result of the move.

A whole street of eco-friendly houses is planned for Lincoln. The new homes will feature rainwater harvesting, solar panels and triple glazed windows as well as enhanced insulation. The three and four bedroom houses will be built by Lindum Homes near to Albion Close, in the Long Leys area. Tony Lawton, the managing director of Lindum Homes, said the houses would be "extremely efficient".

He said: "Working with our consultancy team, including John Roberts Architects and Globe Consultants, we have designed this unique, small development to create 13 impressive modern homes which we submitted to Lincoln City Council Planners on Friday for consideration and await their comments.

"Upon receipt of planning approval, we would hope to have our team start on site soon after and would expect to complete within 18 months." The developers are not going to get it all their own way however. Local residents have formed a protest group. Janice Newsome, said: "One of the reasons we bought our house was because it was safe for our children to play here, and now they want to build a through road.

"We would get a lot more traffic coming through and because it's a very quiet street that's going to make a big difference.

"For the majority of residents, this issue of access is the main concern."

As featured on this blog previously a North Hykeham former nun who wanted to erect an illuminated cross in her garden has had her application for planning consent turned down. North Kesteven District Council planners said the cross would have been inappropriate and intrusive. Sister Mary Michael said she would just have to be a little light herself. The Council commented:-

"The proposed development would, by virtue of its height in comparison with surrounding residential properties and its illumination, represent an inappropriate and intrusive feature within this wholly residential area."

Sister Mary said she would not appeal, not to the council anyway.

The Cleethorpes Carnival will take place this weekend, for the last time. The parade has taken place for the last 36 years but, like so many others has seen it’s appeal fade. Leonore Pidgeon who helps set up the carnival said:-

 "It grew and grew but sadly at the beginning of 2000 it started to slip away from us. We lost a lot of big business as the big floats stopped coming."

"I understand vulnerable people require money before a carnival so we have top get our priorities right," Ms Pidgeon added.

The Heckington show is taking place this weekend, one of the few to survive the awful summer weather. Publishers of a new book on Lincolnshire’s farm animals will use the occasion to launch their tome. Heckington Show committee chairman Charles Pinchbeck said: "Heckington Show has always offered visitors the unique chance to see all our county breeds in one display. We are delighted to have been able to work with the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology team to help people understand and enjoy them even more."

Chairman of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Stewart Squires added: "This is a valuable addition to our understanding of how farm animals in the county have evolved into what we see today."

The show will be the 145th and takes place on the outskirts of the village where large crowds eager for country events of this kind mostly denied them this summer are expected ,ourselves included so I’d better go and get my tweed suit ironed. Until next week then. Have a good one.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Brilliant Bradley.

Cycling has always been popular in this country and there is a vibrant cycle racing scene. In Lincoln of course we have the ever popular Lincoln Grand Prix which draws big crowds in to the city each year.

On the continent though, although many have tried valiantly, very few British riders have prospered in the widespread professional circuit and certainly not in the Tour de France. Until now.

This magnificent spectacle, held over three weeks every summer and taking in Bastille Day, 14 July, is a true test of endurance, tactics, teamwork and guile. Whilst the sport has been sullied over the years by nefarious substances taken by some riders the winner knows he has surmounted one of the toughest sporting pinnacles there is. Given the severity of the test, whilst inexcusable, it’s perhaps understandable that some succumb to temptation in order to reach their goal.

The Sky Team and Bradley Wiggins have taken on this rarefied world and won. They have taken a scientific approach. Reading about their strategy is fascinating. Wiggins is popular on the continent, he speaks French. The way Wiggins won is a triumph of strategy rather than the cavalier approach of old. If success is repeated the locals may tire of it but, overwhelmingly one has to marvel at the sheer strength and application of the win. The trick is now to hold the team together for Wiggins is not the only rider in it capable of winning the tour. This show is set to run and run.

For the moment though we can only marvel at this great sporting feat after all the years of trying and of course, with the Olympics just days away, where British cycling is a major force we can hopefully look forward to seeing Bradley Wiggins on the podium again together with his team mate Mark Cavendish and several others. Bring it on!
                                          Brad Wiggins. Cyclist supreme. Fashion disaster.
                                            Photo courtesy of Mark Cavendish via twitter.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

Local train provider, East Midlands Trains has received a bail out from the government to cover losses made in the last year. The company lost £25m in six months and has received a payment of £46m to restore profitability. The unions were baffled, the RMT describing the payment as “corporate welfare”. Regional organiser Ken Usher said: "We hear on a daily basis of various cuts due to austerity measures and quite clearly it's a case that this does not apply to big business. It's ridiculous."

The company begged to differ. An East Midlands Trains spokesperson said: "Rail franchises were let by the Department for Transport on the basis that the government accepted it would get high premium payments when the environment for rail was strong, but it agreed to provide contractual revenue support when tough conditions meant revenue growth was lower than expected.

"We have had several tough years during the economic downturn and East Midlands Trains was loss-making in 2010/11 and during the first six months of the last financial year.

"Despite this, we have continued to meet all of our franchise commitments to government and we continue to invest millions of pounds to improve our trains and stations to encourage more people to travel on our network."

Labour leader Ed Milliband has urged the government to re think outsourcing services to firms like G4S, heavily criticized over the Olympic security fiasco. One of the foremost schemes is of course Lincolnshire Police who have a partnership with the company to provide back office and custody roles, not that Mr Milliband can be expected to know anything at all about Lincolnshire until it’s time to mug up prior to an election. Policing minister Nick Herbert said the Olympic debacle was a one off and shouldn’t cloud other deals but took the opportunity to give the embattled company another kick whilst they were on the floor calling their efforts “lamentable” but, in a sideswipe at the opposition leader he told the BBC News Channel:-

"There is no doubt failure here but to draw wider conclusions is merely opportunistic,"

The Post Office are trialling the use of satellite receivers in Lincolnshire and other eastern counties. The devices track precise property coordinates and the company plan to market the information leading to more accurate delivery and address location. Keith Jones, leading the "Pinpoint" project, said: "For individuals and companies, many everyday activities involve using information which is based on the location of an address.

"The emergency services, satellite navigation systems used by motorists and smartphone applications use this information.

"Mapping the co-ordinates which are accurate to the front door of addresses across the UK will help improve the accuracy of this information."

Needless to say the brothers are not totally enamoured at the initiative. A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union said: "We raised concerns about resource and customer reaction to this new work and Royal Mail has taken these concerns on board.

"Postal workers who volunteer for this work in place of their deliveries will be fully trained." So that’s alright then.

It looks increasingly likely that next years Spalding Flower Parade will be the last after funding from Lincolnshire County Council and South Holland District Council was ended. The parade, which used to attract up to 100000 has been running since 1959. Nowadays more like 40000 attend and the powers that be don’t think the investment from hard pressed funds can be justified. Lincolnshire County Council's Eddy Poll said: "Back in the day when we were getting 100,000 visitors plus, it was worth the investment but I would imagine there was less than 40,000 there this year.

"I know the weather played a part but visitor numbers have been falling off over the past few years and it's now at a level that I don't think we can really sustain."

"I've personally been involved with the parade for 25 years so it's not been an easy decision for me but I think it's come to a point where we can't afford to underwrite it any more." Ideas for a continuation in another form would be welcome.

Golf giant Ping has reaffirmed it’s commitment to Lincolnshire by expanding its Gainsborough site with the opening of a new multi million pound facility. The Lincolnshire town has been at the heart of the firms European operations since 1973. 15 much needed jobs will be created and the company says this underlines it’s optimism for the future. "This is yet another example of how money has been invested into Gainsborough," Said John Clark, managing director of Ping Europe.

"It's for the good of the people and Pings's employees – the company and Gainsborough are entwined together.

"We have been in a period of significant sustained growth year on year and this has necessitated an expansion of our office space.

"It's all part of an ongoing expectation of growth."

"It's a great statement of the prospects for the future and a sign of our expectations for continued growth," he said.

"If we can keep growing it will create more jobs. We feel very good about the future."

No doubt we all feel good about the prospect of the weekend coming up especially as the sun is threatening to make a reappearance. Have a good one.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

They say no publicity is bad publicity but recent efforts by East Lindsey District Council to drum up interest in Skegness has attracted criticism from the resort itself. The unflattering photos of Brighton and Blackpool, intended to highlight the charms of our own Skeggy and promote the town as a conference venue has embarrassed the town council who were not consulted over the enterprise. Councillor Gary Ellis said: "I don't know how the businesses of Skegness really feel about it, but my concern is we are a quality product, we offer what we offer and we shouldn't go throwing stones at other areas.

"It's got publicity but it's not quality publicity. If you are going down that route please don't do it on my behalf; as a Skegness resident I don't like it."

Councillor Danny Brookes said: "I thought it was outrageous Skegness Town Council wasn't consulted. I think it shows a lack of respect from East Lindsey, we are supposed to work together."

Earlier, during the public forum session, resident Ray Beardsley described the campaign as "appalling" and added: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Skegness Mayor, Councillor Mark Anderon said he was left "ashamed and embarrassed" by the publicity that had been created, adding: "The communications team at EDLC are out of control."

Talking of our favourite slot-orama, Skegness might soon be able to market itself as the sunshine capital of the east coast as a giant solar energy plant is proposed for a farm at Croft. A spokesman for Juwi Renewable Energies said:-

"We are only using Grade Three to Five land, we don't want to take good land out of the food cycle. With this, the PV park can cohabit with agricultural use well so you can still have sheep grazing on there so the farmer can still use that land.

"From the point of view of Skegness, people associate it with being bracing. We are hoping people will be able to say it's got to be sunny because it's got a solar park, so there's maybe some news for tourism there."

A North Hykeham nun wants to erect a 7 metre high illuminated cross in her garden. Sister Mary Michael says the idea for the structure, for which planning permission has been sought, came from on high:-

"I believe in the power of prayer," she said.

"These crosses are built so that people are to come to them and you don't have to advertise it really.

"So basically they are really to bring people back to loving God and loving their neighbour.”

The neighbours however aren’t so sure and there have been objections.

Sister Mary now no longer lives in a convent but still considers herself a nun said she did not want the cross to annoy her neighbours.

"I don't want that to happen to people but our Lord has specifically asked for it to be lit," she said.

"Today there's wonderful lighting that doesn't have to glare in people's bedrooms."

Rescuers who saved an Icelandic seal have had a frosty response to their efforts to return it to its homeland. Skegness Natureland (Seems to be all happening in Skegness this week) saved the hooded seal from the sea off Chapel St Leonards and were intending to return it to Iceland but authorities there have said she cannot come back in case she carries disease. The seal, named Eve by the sanctuary was originally rescued and rehabilitated by a sanctuary in Germany and released into the wild with a tracking device in the hope she would return home. However Eve headed to Scotland and the Orkney Isles before swimming south to Lincolnshire. Natureland's Duncan Yeadon said: "We've been in contact with the Icelandic embassy who put us onto their version of Defra.

"We eventually heard back that they won't allow us to take her up there, unfortunately.

"It's understandable in a way because they're afraid of her transferring or carrying disease from our waters and infecting the seal population there."

"She's spent the majority of her life in seal sanctuaries and we're concerned she might be a bit too humanised to be released.

"Ideally we would like to release her in the hope she will go back to where she belongs but we wouldn't want to release her and find she is not able to fend for herself."

Natureland will make a decision on Eves future soon.

Well every holiday has to end sometime so it’s goodbye for this week. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

To have and to have not.

Two contrasting stories in this weeks edition of the Lincolnshire Echo both of which have been commented on in this blog, the name the stadium enterprise and the vexed subject of Sam Smith. Depressingly the main article in the Echo concerns City’s bid to sign a defender, in fact two defenders. A few weeks ago we were told that the squad was complete but, as expected there has been more movement in squad numbers and of course the club do need to replace Ashley Westwood, departed to Portsmouth. The names in question are Exodus Geohagan and John Dempsey but neither will be coming due to cash shortages. In terms of PR it might have been better to either say nothing or simply state it has not proved possible to sign them. I suppose we can hardly ask for more transparency and then moan that we don’t like what we hear though. Personally I can come up with any number of financial hard luck stories in my own life without hearing them from something I take an interest in to forget my woes but that’s football. There was a little inference that we all ought to be buying name the stadium tickets to make up the shortfall, the club making reference to the acquiring of Kevin Austin and of course Peter Grotier. I say of course but that was many moons ago.

Secondly the Echo reports the Imps have issued a hands off warning to Cambridge United. It’s tempting to say remember where you heard it first but of course you didn’t hear it first from me although I beat the Echo to it, if only because they only print once a week. At least City are not snatching Cambridge’s hand off with the first offer received but, selling club that we are and always have been it could only be a matter of time.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A new look for a new season

A new look for the web site that is and first impressions are…………….well, lets hope it gets better!

On to the content however and it’s boardroom blog time again. In this weeks fun packed offering it’s the same old concerns for the board. Finance. We keep being told that things are looking up but the figures aren’t showing it yet. Season tickets sales are at close to 800 which is above the budgeted number and if sales continue at the present rate a significant financial hurdle will have been cleared. However, last years sales were 1020 and I would be surprised if that figure is reached. I hope I’m wrong. As anticipated in this blog fans appear to have voted with their feet in judgement at the clubs performance last season. Presumably the publicity coming out of the club and the signings made have failed to galvanise a fan base low on goodwill towards their club. We can only hope that a good start to the campaign will convince supporters that a Saturday afternoon at Sincil Bank represents a better prospect than trawling round the shops yet again. Mind you, looking around the city there seems to be less people doing that at the moment. Having spoken to a number of fans, whilst their support is still there less are prepared to invest in a season ticket. They still want to go but are unwilling to commit to a whole season.

The name our stadium initiative has raised about £15000, a sum I had not anticipated myself but well below the hoped for £50000. I’m sounding increasingly less like a fan now, which I hope you will accept is not intended but I can’t see how on earth the board really thought that the idea would raise that sort of cash. The aspiration is now £25000. We’ll leave it at that.

Away from the blog but not the boardroom, rumours abound that Cambridge United are sniffing around hoping £30000 will persuade City to hand over Sam Smith and find someone else to score the goals. More chance of them taking the money than £25000 being raised by the name the stadium scheme in my view.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Andy Murray-Proud Scot and Great Briton

There are those of course, some of them readers of this blog who think we English should not be cheering on the likes of Andy Murray. They would point particularly to his pronouncement that he would be supporting whichever football team England were playing at any given time. This is a standard Scottish jibe and it’s hard to believe the Murray of today would make the same PR mistake again particularly after the support he received from a predominantly English audience at Wimbledon yesterday.

That jibe is tiresomely trotted out whenever England are playing but who amongst us English can say, hand on heart, that they fulsomely cheer the Scotland football team on whenever they play? Why do we feel the need to ask that question anyway? Is it to provoke that reply? In other sports though we English tend towards a British approach, I think. We cheer on Chris Hoy in the cycling and don’t think, hang on he’s not English or what about Barry McGuigan? He wasn’t English but that didn’t bother us.

In Andy Murray, I believe we have everything we’ve been missing in a British tennis player, he’s everything Tim Henman wasn’t, and he’s the streetfighter we always wanted. The sort of player who couldn’t care less what people thought as he went for the jugular. Alright he fell at the last hurdle, how very British and what’s this? Tears as he addressed the crowd, thanking the fans for their support? Those fans make it easier to play at Wimbledon, not a hindrance he said.

Personally I think it was a magnificent effort although I fear this year represented the players’ greatest chance to grab the crown. Federer may be inspired to continue and Nadal and Djokovic will be around for some time but Murray gave tennis fans what they wanted in battling style. Better luck next time, if indeed there is one.

We did however have not only a British but also English Wimbledon champion. Jonathan Marray, victorious in the men’s doubles, must be rueing his win in the same year that Murray won through to the final. That’s life but very well done to you too.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

A Lincolnshire mayor has said she will not resign over her bizarre decision to appear at Louth’s Olympic torch celebration dressed as a sausage. Jill Makinson-Sanders who was not at the event in her official capacity, donned the outfit to show her support for the campaign to give our local delicacy protected status. This did not however protect her from incurring the wrath of some locals who accused her of making the town a laughing stock. Resident Kate Levy, one of several residents to have accused Ms Makinson-Sanders of embarrassing the town, said: "Whilst we do want publicity for Louth, we don't want ignominy and notoriety which is what we've got.

"People are laughing at her and not with her."

But traders and other residents have backed Ms Makinson-Sanders.

She said: "We just wanted publicity for Louth being a good food town.

"I've only ever got Louth's best interests at heart so I wouldn't have done anything to damage the town because I don't think like that.

"I'm quite a serious person under all of this."

Talking of the Olympic torch, your correspondent was not exactly flavour of the month last week when our holiday in lovely Norfolk was interrupted at my insistence as I had obtained tickets for Lincolns celebration and didn’t want to miss what I considered a once in a lifetime opportunity. The event got off to a bit of a slow start but soon warmed up, as did the weather which was forecast by the delicious Carol Kirkwood on BBC Breakfast as potentially “torrential downpours”. Fortunately Carol was wrong and the event took place in very warm, sunny if slightly windy conditions and was well worth travelling back up the A17 for. As for Carol, I’ll forgive you, just this once.

Lincolnshire parents were dismayed to hear this week that Glenfield Hospital, Leicestershire and the East Midlands local centre of excellence for children’s surgery services, was to lose it’s congenital heart centre. The centre has looked after many Lincolnshire children and campaigners have vowed to fight on in their bid to keep it open. A spokesman for the charity Heartlink, John Rigby, said: "We're going to take stock, listen to what our reps have to say and be guided by them. We're going to fight to do our very best to keep children's services here.”

The dreadful summer sloshes on unabated and on Friday towns and villages across the county were bracing themselves once again for floods. Staff from the Environment Agency, Met Office and the City Council are in attendance at Emergency Planning HQ in Lincoln. There have been problems in Grantham and Harlaxton and rail services between Nottingham and Skegness as well as the East Coast main line have faced disruption. This Sundays race for life scheduled for the showground has been called off. Ian Reed, from the joint emergency management service, located at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue headquarters in Lincoln, said: "We are getting really up-to-date forecasts but it is a fast-changing situation.

"The data we are getting is still changing but we are expecting up to 60mm of rain in a worst case scenario, but we will monitor that."

The Lawn complex, in Lincoln has only attracted one bid and will now be withdrawn from the market as council leaders decide what to do about it. Leader of the council, Ric Metcalfe, said: "It was a very disappointing response.

"We only had one bid although we did have between 15 and 20 expressions of interest and there were a number of people who had discussions with us.

"We have effectively taken it off the market. It wouldn't be a sensible idea to put it back on the market straight away and I can't put a time period on when that might be possible.

"We have not changed our mind about it being the correct decision to sell The Lawn but there is no reason to put it on the market immediately.

"We have got to reflect on everything that has happened since our decision to sell and we will be reviewing all our options in due course."

That offer came from Jonathan Pass, owner of the adjoining Charlotte House Hotel. "Having only one bid leaves the council in a difficult position and we don't feel we could make a decision based on that," stated Mr Metcalfe.

Mr Pass is still keen on the idea of buying but his offer fell short of the reserve and his plans did not meet the council’s vision for the site. "I am very disappointed and it is a massive missed opportunity for the city," he said.

"Our proposals were to open it up to the people and get more public in and make it fabulous. It is so run down at the moment. We were prepared to put millions of pounds into it to make it a jewel in the crown of Lincoln, but that idea has been snubbed.

"My door is always open, we are still interested in talking about purchasing.

"I have a keen interest in what happens with The Lawn.

"Something needs to happen or we will be left with an iconic building (the conservatory) that will fall apart.

"I stand by my ideas for the site and to transform it for the people of Lincoln – but that is not going to happen at the moment."

Well my lawns going to have to wait too as we all wonder if the county are going to see anything of summer before it’s officially over. Try to keep dry.