Spend locally for everyone’s benefit

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

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

Recently, I have been in touch with the Environment Agency who are assiduously monitoring the situation in co-operation with Anglian Water, the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and 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 absolutely 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 had the aim of putting ‘the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagine as destinations for socialising, culture, health, well-being, creativity, and learning’.

We need a proper balance between town and country development, and out-of-town shopping centres have all too often proved ruinous for town centres around England in the recent past. Happily, there are a number of quite healthy recent developments around the constituency.

With 5,000 inhabitants, Market Rasen is the smallest of the 12 towns in the running to be 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 more than 40 local businesses, the town council, and the local press. What’s more, they’ve taken the initiative by utilising all the social media, from Facebook to Twitter and even Instagram.

MR BIG have even put together a clever video promoting the bid on YouTube. Two copies of MR BIG’s Town Transformation Plan are available for viewing in the local library for those who don’t have access to the internet, where it is downloadable.

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.

The plans, drawn up with the co-operation of a number of local partners, 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.

Edward Leigh MP