I think we can all agree that 2020 has been the most unusual year many of us can remember in our lifetimes.
With the promise of a COVID vaccine on the horizon, and the potential that might bring for 2021 and beyond, I’m sure many people 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 at this particularly difficult time, 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 £7 million 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.
We know that 2021 will be a difficult year for tourism, but by concentrating on our domestic market, taking the opportunity to promote our staycation offer is something we can capitalise on in the coming months.
Meanwhile, 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, seven days a week.
Alongside the schemes already on the ground, plans have been submitted to Government to be part of the Future High Streets Fund and the Towns Funds, plans totalling £50 million 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 £42 million 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.
We sit on the brink of major opportunities here and it is the responsibility of ourselves, our stakeholders and partners to ensure they don’t slip through our grasp. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s shown us that by working together, we can do so much more than by working alone.