MP’s Column - Area given food investment

Lincolnshire is an agricultural powerhouse, and one of the most successful counties in England for the agri-food industry, but that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. Farms, families, and businesses are leading the charge, but the Government is also doing its bit to facilitate the advance rather than to get in the way.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, recently visited the Siemens factory in Lincoln to announce the creation of new Food Enterprise Zones for Lincolnshire, one of which is to be located here in the Gainsborough constituency. These enterprise zones are crafted with the aim of unleashing entrepreneurial potential already latent in our local businesses, helping them to expand, and encouraging better links between the food industry and the farming community.

I’d like to thank the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership for the hard work they’ve put in with these bids. My fellow Conservative, Cllr Colin Davie of Lincolnshire County Council, noted that these zones will “play a vital role in helping us to achieve our vision of doubling the economic value of the agrifood sector in Greater Lincolnshire by 2030.”

London likes to think that it is the be-all-and-end-all of the British economy, but the Government is keen to ensure that economic recovery is spread around the country. To that end, the Chancellor has announced an unprecedented investment of £5.2 billion to be put towards what he called “a modern, interconnected transport network for the UK, centred around the Midlands.”

In addition, the Department for Communities and Local Government has just released the figures for the New Homes Bonus for 2015-2016.

This bonus is a grant paid by central government to local government for increasing the housing supply through building new homes and converting long-term empty homes back into use, as well as for increasing the stock of affordable homes.

The Treasury has set aside £1.17 billion for local authorities in England for 2015/2016, which will bring the total amount of New Homes Bonus funding to nearly £3.4 billion. As for us here in Lincolnshire, the funding for 2015/2016 adds up to £3,534,154.

Another thing I’ve frequently highlighted in the House of Commons is that I have the dubious honour of having in my constituency the least well served railway station in Britain: Gainsborough Central. Network Rail have announced plans for a bit of an upgrade at the station but I am very disappointed to see that the new crossings over the line do not include ramps.

This presents serious difficulties for disabled people, parents with prams, and people with mobility difficulties.

That won’t make Gainsborough Central any more attractive to rail passengers either. I’ve written to the CEO of Network Rail condemning this discrepancy and asking him to include proper crossings that everyone can use.

We are working for a Britain that is free and prosperous, but we also need to ensure that it’s a country where people of all handicaps and difficulties are welcomed and valued.

Sir Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough