If there’s one thing that more than thirty years in politics has taught me it’s that persistence pays off.
No one ever won anything by giving up, and history is littered with the carcasses of those who gave in while those who soldiered on and persisted lived to see the day of victory.
For far too long Gainsborough Central has been an unjustly neglected railway station, usually subject to the least level of service of any station in the entire country. I have raised this issue in the House of Commons, in letters to the Secretary of State for Transport, and elsewhere. I know many of our best and brightest in local government, whether in West Lindsey District Council or in Lincolnshire County Council, have also done a great deal of work to highlight Gainsborough Central and the need for better services. The North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership has also served to coordinate these efforts.
It was a great joy then to see that not only has a weekday rail service been restored to Gainsborough Central, but it will see an hourly train bring people to the heart of what is a growing and increasingly bustling town. This new service will go a long way towards increasing connectivity within our county and helping people to get around Lincolnshire as well as to explore the opportunities on offer in Gainsborough town itself.
I, and I know many of my constituents, have been worried about the future of the Usher Art Gallery in Lincoln.
While outside the constituency, Lincoln is important to many of us in the county, and I was most distressed to hear about the new plans which seek to reduce this important building to a mere events venue and coroners’ office.
It was built to a design by the important British architect Sir Reginald Blomfield who was also responsible for the beautiful and moving Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium, where our Commonwealth war dead are commemorated.
The Usher Gallery was founded to house the collection of James Ward Usher, a Lincolnshire native who amassed a fine collection of paintings, porcelain, fine clocks, and other works of art. Very generously, he donated these to the public and the beautiful Edwardian gallery was built to house it. The Usher has been merged with the City & County Museum, and a new museum built across the way called The Collection, but this does not mean the old gallery is surplus to requirements.
It is one of the best exhibition spaces in Lincolnshire and should continue to be made available for those purposes.
I have written to Lincolnshire County Council to protest the proposals, echoing those of the many constituents who have written to me objecting.
The Usher Gallery was designed and built for the distinct purpose of housing the collection James Ward Usher put together and donated, and it is the best place for the public to be able to view this gathering of artwork and craftsmanship.
Sir Edward Leigh MP