Sale of first plots on industrial estate extension brings 'green shoots of hope' for 2022

The sale of the first plots of an industrial estate extension along the coast is bringing 'green shoots of optimism' for 2022.

The site of the new business park extension in Skegness.
The site of the new business park extension in Skegness.

That is the Christmas message from Coun Colin Davie, Lincolnshire County Council’s Executive Portfolio Holder for Economy, speaking amidst rising concerns over the impact of the spread of a new Covid-19 variant.

Coun Davie said the emergence of Omicron was already seeing bookings at hospitality venues being cancelled.

"After the optimism of 2021, the emergence of the new variant is already having an impact on Christmas trade," he said.

Coun Colin Davie.

"We are now entering a period of fear and depression as we enter the festive season."

Asked about the future, he said: “If you asked me a few days ago, I would say next year was looking really, really exciting for the tourism sector, but with further news stories about COVID restrictions and how it might impact, I’m just a little bit more cautious.”

However, he said there were still "green shoots of optimism" for business in 2022.

Work is due to start on the first phase of a £2.4m extension to the business park in Skegness early in 2022.

Huttoft Boat House Cafe and Visitor Centre.

Local developers Manorcrest plan to build business units on the site in Hassall Road.

"The County Council has just sold its first plots on the new industrial estate extension in Skegness and construction of business units will begin in January," said Coun Davie.

"The new Huttoft Boat House Cafe and Visitor Centre will open in the New Year and the National Trust is progressing with their plans to create a 30 hectare nature reserve from the former Sandilands golf course."

He said local tourism, and the industry would face more competition next year from European destinations warning that if the aviation sector was shut down any further it could bankrupt it. Therefore there was a need to promote flights and flying to other parts of the world to prevent it from becoming something “only the rich can do”.

However, he said again that workforce would be the “big challenge” for the leisure and hospitality industry.

More than 600,000 people in the UK have quit their jobs during the pandemic, while materials and construction costs have risen by 50 per cent in some cases.

“The care sector and leisure and hospitality normally recruit from the same sort of section of available workforce. It’s highly competitive,” he said.

Coun Davie said some of the issues would be tackled by “skills programming” – getting into schools earlier to promote to young people the benefits of Lincolnshire life.

“Young people need to know what’s available in Lincolnshire – they can have great jobs, great opportunities, a great life without actually leaving the county.

“Selling Lincolnshire has been one of my big themes of next year, I intend to put my foot on the gas even more in ’22 with my colleagues in North and North East Lincolnshire, making that clear argument that the Greater Lincolnshire economic area is valuable, is a huge contributor to the national economy and by working with us, we can deliver greater benefits not just for our place, but for the national economy.

“So flying the flag for Lincolnshire, louder, harder and higher in ‘22 is going to be my absolute driving requirement that we get the Lincolnshire message out even further and even wider.”

Coun Davie said tensions in countries such as China and Russia would have ripples on the global market that would impact Lincolnshire, warning “the national debt for some of our global leading economies is now so huge, that further shocks to the system could derail the economy for years to come.”

Further pressure had also been placed on the council’s capital projects by national issues such as COVID.

He said people needed to “trust the government to lead them through dark times”.

“There are some questions that only inflame people to the point where they can’t actually trust people anymore.

“We’re seeing that with vaccinations now, people are starting to see flat-line on people wanting boosters, etc, because there’s no trust that what they’re having is going to actually get them to a better place.”

However, he also said he would be “extremely disappointed” if Christmas parties reported in the national media actually took place.

He said headlines were “not pleasant to read as a member of the party”.

“We elect our politicians to make our laws for our society, and laws and rules apply not just to those who are not the law makers, but the lawmakers themselves.

“I would be extremely disappointed if it comes to pass that evidence is produced that clearly shows those rules and laws we’re all living with here in Lincolnshire, were not being obeyed by people in Westminster.”

Finally, , he sent his good wishes to the community and said: "In spite of the challenges that exist I hope and pray that 2022 truly kickstarts our economy and helps in returning us to normal as near as possible."