I’m throwing down the gauntlet to councillors

THE furore over the proposals to spectacularly increase the town population rages unabatedly on.

Despite being pilloried for a number of recent planning debacles, the great and the good down at Marshall’s Yard press on - as if purblind - with their whimsical plans. This against a local backdrop of government spending cuts, job losses, increasing deprivation, unfinished public projects, dismantling of infrastructure and burgeoning pubic distrust of the very organisations that exist to serve us.

I’m not being scurrilous when I say that the idea of increasing the population of the town so dramatically seems plainly bonkers given the limited opportunities that exist for the incumbent populace.

It’s a depressing fact that Gainsborough has some of the most deprived wards in the East Midlands and is, frankly, no hot bed of opportunity for health, wealth and happiness.

In reality, Gainsborough is, although in a number of ways improving, still a severely challenged town; proportionally high rates of long term unemployment, social deprivation, drug abuse, criminality, anti-social behaviour and benefit dependency come to mind.

Add to this is the peculiar fact that Gainsborough has a large and, paradoxically, settled traveller population along with a perplexingly constant stream of drifters and you have a town that is hardly El Dorado and who’s infrastructure is creaking at the joints.

A fair if somewhat grim summary I feel; a town then with many tangible problems, some of which reflect the national picture, others that exist exclusively in the Gainsborough milieu.

It pains me to paint such a depressing picture and my brush may be too broad for some but nonetheless given the current situation any plan to increase the population must be absolutely and irrevocably blocked.

And let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. There are a number of elementary flaws in their wholly unsophisticated proposal, not least of which include a distinct lack of: jobs, houses, school places, police, doctors, dentists, amenities and so on and so forth. Fear not; any incoming family will not find their Shangri-La here.

Talking of which, let’s consider the type of person our deluded council leaders imagine will up sticks and move here. I’d wager it won’t be the decent, hard working, law abiding and ambitious.

No, my money is on the unskilled, itinerant, indolent and world-owes-me-a-living types. As if the town doesn’t have enough of these already! And how does Keimach propose to easy any transitioning issues? Build new cycle paths. OMG.

Lest we ignore the hidden agenda at work here which is driven by self-interest, any increase in population will directly inflate the salaries enjoyed by the WLDC so-called Leadership Group.

By now, I would have expected to have heard dissenting voices from those who manage the delivery of front line services to the town. Surely the provision of policing, health and social services, education, emergency services will be severely impacted by a vastly increased population?

It’s a simple equation; more people means more public money required to provide these services, money that will not be forthcoming – the country is bankrupt after all.

Two won’t go into One and make no bones about it - the current populace of Gainsborough will suffer massively. Yet not one squeak from the providers of these essential public services, their silence confirms that they are either complicit or that they have nothing intelligent to add. I challenge them now to put pen to paper and explain how their services will cope with the influx. Don’t treat us like mushrooms - enlighten us at to how you will conjure more from less.

So, the gauntlet is thrown down and the good townsfolk of Gainsborough must take up the challenge to snuff out the fuse of this ticking time bomb. Failure is not an option – as to do so would leave the town changed beyond all recognition - and I venture not in a good way

If we continue to let the town be changed on the whims of people who are clearly not qualified then we will continue to stagger from one ill-conceived fiasco to the next.

Take the town centre, a shining example of ineptitude if ever there was. Once (and rightly so) the very beating heart of Gainsborough, doomed now to be the poor relation to the cloned, formulaic and somewhat soulless Marshall’s yard.

The irony is not lost – Keimach and his cronies are therein ensconced in state of the art offices at our expense. Funny how only the local council and major high street brands can afford the rates at Marshall’s Yard – whereas local businesses are left to the meagre commercial pickings that the carcass of the defunct town centre now provides.

A town centre which now lies in an almost limbo-like state, a road kill, deserted by high street brands and shoppers alike - the allegorical abandoned post gold rush town minus the tumbleweed.

I have one question for our procrastinating Magpie-like council leaders: is it unreasonable to ask that you complete that which you have started before being mesmerised by the next new and shiny idea?

Ian Hughes (by email).