As we prepare for perhaps the most unusual Christmas celebrations many of us will have seen in our lifetimes, it’s a good time to both reflect on the most challenging year I can remember, but also look forwards to what I hope will be a brighter 2021
With the promise of a wider COVID vaccine on the horizon, and the potential that might bring for 2021 and beyond, I’m sure many of you will be glad to see the back of 2020 and, whilst it may still be a few months away, a return to a life that feels a little more like normal.
I must applaud not only all the staff in the NHS and care systems for looking after our loved ones through this most difficult of times, but also the people of our borough for taking the steps to protect others, for working through the pandemic as key workers, and for carrying on, getting the job done. And at the same time, I’d also like to say an enormous thank you to our own staff at the Council- from our waste crews, to our care workers and our back office teams, who have collectively played a huge role in keeping the borough safe, well and on track during the last 12 months.
While life during the pandemic has felt very different, work in North East Lincolnshire has been continuing, albeit with a slight hiatus in the first national lockdown.
Renewable industries is clearly one of our future economic strengths. Looking to the Government’s plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and retaining out place as a world market leader in offshore wind Operations and Maintenance activity, it’s clear we have a major part to play, not just locally, but nationally.
More locally, since the beginning of the year, our regeneration schemes in Cleethorpes and Grimsby have been coming on apace, with the substantive works across Cleethorpes finishing in the summer.
More than £7million has been spent across the resort so far, with money secured through various grants. We now have our key tourist hotspots looking clean and open, ready to welcome visitors to the resort. And while we know that 2021 will be a difficult year for tourism, both concentrating on our domestic market and promoting our staycation offer will be things we can capitalise on.
In Grimsby, the reinvention of the town has been continuing. Work has almost completed on two major projects: the remodelling of St James Square and the Garth Lane project. Re-modelling the landscape to create spaces for relaxation. Both projects are due to finish in the early part of 2021, and will make a significant difference to how the centre of town looks. Meanwhile, next to the Garth Lane scheme, a converted Grade II listed West Haven Maltings building will become home to the new Youth Zone. When complete by the end of 2022, a ‘new haven’ will be created for thousands of young people, providing them with somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to, 7 days a week.
Alongside the schemes already on the ground, proposals have been submitted to Government to be part of the Future High Streets Fund and the Towns Funds, plans totalling £50million so far. And the Cultural development Fund work, Grimsby Creates, will be delivering some great activities in the town in 2020 and beyond.
Outside of the key towns, work on the multi-strand £42million South Humber Industrial Investment Programme is ongoing: a new business park is being created just off the A180 near Immingham, and the first building nearly completed for new tenants, myEnergi; highway works will be completed in the new year on a brand new road to connect the major ports of Grimsby and Immingham; and an award-winning ecological site is maturing to offset development in the area.
On the roads, we’ve made significant road safety improvements on the A18, with the final phase of this £2.8m project due to start next year at the Waltham Road junction. We’re nearing the end of the six-month project to overhaul the busy Toll Bar roundabout junction and the B1444 Little Coates/Cambridge Road junction fully opened to traffic earlier this month after £2m of improvements.
And turning to the bins, between July and December, we delivered a pair of new recycling bins to about 70,000 households. With the new bins and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re already seeing big increases in the amount of recycling collected. In November we collected 1,131 tonnes of recycling in the new wheelie bins, 337 tonnes more than last November.
Things are tough, but we sit on the brink of major opportunities here, whether it’s from investment or new ways of doing things. It’s the responsibility of all of us, along with our stakeholders and partners to ensure they don’t slip through our grasp. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that by working together, we can do so much more than by working alone.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Cllr Philip Jackson
Leader, North East Lincolnshire Council.