Retirement has made life busier than ever for Barry

Barry Coward
Barry Coward

Back in the autumn of 2006 I was looking for somewhere pleasant and quiet in which to retire and I discovered Gainsborough, writes Barry Coward.

What attracted me to the town is that it is a clean town, the people are friendly, it is steeped in history and there are great walks besides the river.

So my cat and I arrived expecting a quiet life.

That should have been the end of the story.

However, in 2011 I was persuaded to stand for election to the town council.

For the next five years I watched the council recover from a poor condition.

The most obvious improvement is the new play area at Richmond Park.

In 2014 the council published a Town Plan based on consultation with residents including children – after all, a plan for the future is going to benefit children most.

During the consultation primary school children conducted a survey of their friends and families.

The results were very interesting as 75 per cent of those surveyed said Gainsborough was good place to live in, but 97 per cent said it did not sell itself.

The sequel to the Town Plan is a Neighbourhood Plan which, once adopted by West Lindsey Council, forms part of the planning process for the town.

Last year the public’s views were sought and volunteers formed a peoples panel to review the plan at the drafting stage.

Neighbourhood Plans have to be seen to be independent of council plans by reflecting the wishes of the people.

However, the plan has also to satisfy the Government’s planning inspector that it meets their requirements.

If it is to be successful the plan requires careful and precise drafting.

The Neighbourhood Plan is steadily proceeding under the excellent chairmanship of Coun Michael Hopper aided by Matthew Gleadell.

Both Michael and Matthew deserve much praise for the work they are doing.

After leaving the Town Council, I returned to being a Victor Meldrew character, but not for long.

In February 2017, I chaired the first meeting of a new community rail partnership.

The first objective for Gainsborough was to secure a regular train service at Central Station.

Events elsewhere prevented the introduction last May of an hourly train between Central Station and Sheffield and also now delayed is the construction of a new platform two at Lea Road Station.

Hopefully these improvements will happen next year so I may finally retire to a quiet life.