I read with interest the story in last week’s Rasen Mail concerning future developments for the area.
In the story, Jeff Summers was quoted as saying: “It is well known that communities, towns and villages have to be twice as large today to sustain the businesses and facilities that was once the case 50 years ago.
“Hotels, public houses, shops and post offices – we’ve seen them all disappearing over recent years. We also understand the reasons why.”
If this is indicative of views of councillors sitting on West Lindsey District Council’s planning committee, then I do not hold out much hope of sensible and sustainable development anywhere between Lincoln and Market Rasen.
Suggesting that suffering small businesses in market towns and villages can simply be saved by dumping a larger potential customer base on their doorstep is nonsensical.
Of his examples, public houses are in decline nationally, small retail has to compete with both the supermarkets and an ever-increasing online offering, the post office similarly suffers in competition with other parcel carriers and also electronic messaging, with hotels becoming the latest to join the fight against online-based alternatives such as Airbnb.
These changes are also generational in nature. Sure, parachute in 100 per cent more people in the 55-plus age bracket and maybe you double your trade in that demographic, but in the younger age groups, fewer people are drinking out as a rule. They are online savvy with their shopping and are mobile and willing to drive to one-stop shopping sites.
And, of course, if you increase the populace across all age groups without increasing education, health and public transport provision ... well, we all know how that goes.
If you want to help businesses that people want to use, do something about business rates and don’t penalise their customers for trying to park their cars.
Incentivise shopping in market towns and villages, don’t hit us with another give-us-your-money stick.