March 31, 2022 3.30 pm

Economy chief’s fears for Lincolnshire as costs soar

But there is some positive news

A Lincolnshire economy chief fears residents will be unable to cope, while tourism and leisure businesses will suffer hardest in the coming months amid rising costs.

However, the Conservative county council’s portfolio holder for economy Councillor Colin Davie says there’s still a lot of investment in the county taking place, despite the background of increased energy, gas and oil costs, the lingering impact of COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The only certainty going forward is increasing uncertainty in relation to the global outlook,” he told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines.

Councillor Davie said described “very uncertain times” and “the fear” a lot of residents live with.

He said: “I represent one of the 10% most deprived in the country, I have a lot of retirees living on their own, and many living in chalet parks who have such a small income.

“I just don’t know how these people are going to cope in the next year or so with with the immense charges.”

“This is going to be a very difficult year for people who are [on] middle and low incomes.”

He warned tourism and leisure businesses also would be some of the first in the firing line, still recovering from COVID but facing hikes, and with people, forced to choose between food and heating, deciding not to take expensive holidays.

Energy costs also will impact on key sectors such as food and manufacturing.

Councillor Davie hit out at sanctions on Russia from other European countries which he said were “not meaningful at all” and said energy policies in the west were “mixed up”.

“We’ve got to become much more resilient as a country to the global and local issues outside of our control and that means we need to be energy secure, we need to be food secure and government has failed over the past 20 years to do either of those things,” he said, acknowledging that his words applied to both Labour and Conservative-led governments.

“Unfortunately, they’ve run out of road to kick the can down,” he said, questioning targets for the country to be Carbon Net Zero by 2050.

However, Councillor Davie said national work was being done, if late, and was keen to point out in many areas the county had stepped up to the plate, and was still seeing investment.

This included the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone, and the recently opened Huttoft Boat Cafe. He said these, along with work to create an attractive country park would still attract people for low cost visits.

He added: “We need to say to government ‘let’s get on with a proper food security policy for the country’, Lincolnshire is very happy to lead on that and help the government deliver a policy that’s going to work.

“Our businesses here are at the cutting edge of food and innovation, and manufacturing and processing. We’ll all be delighted to play a role in all that.”

He pointed to investment by “major players” including James Dyson, and said there were more than 90 direct investment inquiries currently.

“Lots of investors love the idea of Lincolnshire, what we can offer in our beautiful county, the connectivity that’s growing.

‘I’m really positive that some of some of the discussions we’ve had can actually turned into real live investments in the county worth worth many millions of pounds.”