From Leigh to You: People power can make a difference

Edward Leigh MP
Edward Leigh MP

We in the countryside are well aware of the dangers we face with regard to drought.

Last year was the driest year in the Midlands for nearly a century and the past two dry winters mean groundwater levels are lower than ever in recent memory.

I have been in touch with the Environment Agency who are assiduously monitoring the situation along with Anglian Water, the National Farmers Union, the Country Land & Business Association, and others.

The constituency is already under a domestic use hosepipe ban which is unfortunately necessary in order to prioritise the important water needs of our drinking supply and businesses.

We can all survive a year with our gardens looking a bit worse for wear, but our farms and other related businesses are vital in order to ensure Lincolnshire and indeed Great Britain have a sufficient supply of food.

Speaking of food, I have long been an advocate of buying local. Doing so keeps our money ‘in the family’ so to speak and ensures the money we work hard to earn goes back into our local communities and helps keep our little corner of England on a sound footing.

Last year, the Prime Minister appointed Mary Portas to run an independent review into the future of the high street.

In her report, she said her recommendations aimed to put ‘the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagine as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity, and learning.’

We need a balance between town and country development, and out-of-town shopping centres have too often proved ruinous for some town centres.

Happily, there are a number of quite healthy recent developments around the constituency.

With 5,000 inhabitants, Market Rasen is the smallest in the running to be one of the twelve towns picked for the Portas Pilot scheme, vying for a share of the £1 million of funding.

The Market Rasen Business Improvement Group – or MR BIG – has ambitious plans but remains firmly planted in the ground, involving over forty local businesses, the town council, and the local press.

In Gainsborough, locals are encouraged by the Elswitha Quarter redevelopment plans, which I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport in support of.

Drawn up with the cooperation of a number of local partners, they entail a number of new businesses alongside opportunities for future civic beautification.

All in all, the lesson to take home is that local people working together can make our part of the world a livelier and lovelier place to be.