MP’s Column - Banks, investment and chamber changes....

Nothing could please me more than the announcement that the Government is to spend over £2 million for the Gainsborough Southern Urban Extension here in West Lindsey. Readers will be well aware that housing is a pressing concern as housebuilding fails to keep pace with demand.

At the same time, poor decision-making when it comes to planning can ruin the character of our towns and villages. It’s necessary to strike a fine balance and make sure we build and expand in an intelligent way, with infrastructure in place, and while preserving what we love best about our communities.

In co-ordination with West Lindsey District Council, I lobbied housing secretary Sajid Javid arguing that WLDC are working proactively to deliver a major growth and regeneration in this part of our county. The Southern Urban Extension will increase the supply of quality family housing which is needed to support the growth of the town.

I am also glad to see that planning applications have been submitted to transform the former HSBC bank branch in Market Rasen and the former NatWest branch in Caistor.

Banking is changing, with more and more of our financial transactions moving online. This can make life particularly challenging for many of our pensioners and retired residents.

I know that I myself much prefer interacting with a human being in person or on the phone rather than impersonal technology. But, like all changes, it does present opportunities as well.

Sam Coy, the innovative headmaster at Benjamin Adlard Primary School in Gainsborough, has come up with a very sound proposal to turn the NatWest branch in the town – currently scheduled for closure – into a community hub. The loss of a bank in a town centre is disappointing, but Sam is eager to see banking services preserved on the site as well as providing after-school support for pupils, an internet café, a food bank, and specialist teaching.

I am glad to see that West Lindsey District Council are taking this proposal seriously, and I have written to management at NatWest to see how they might be able to help make this plan a reality.

In Parliament, I was disappointed to see expensive plans for the renovation of the Palace of Westminster approved.

This iconic building is vital not just not just to the history but also to the future of our country.

The current plans include the ludicrous idea of building a permanent new replica Commons chamber, which will become useless once the renovations to the Palace are complete and we move back into the old chamber.

Meanwhile, the architect of Portcullis House, where my office is located, informed me that a cheaper temporary chamber could fit in just half of the existing atrium of the parliamentary office building, providing potential savings to the taxpayer of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Money doesn’t come from nowhere – it’s taken in taxation from hard-working families and businesses.

I will be working to further ensure that we get the best possible savings for taxpayers moving forward.

Sir Edward Leigh

Gainsborough Constituency