December 31, 2023 7.00 pm

Rewind 2023: 23 of The Lincolnite and MyLocal Lincolnshire’s most read stories this year

Taking a look back through the most popular stories we covered this year

The retirement of an iconic aircraft, the cash vs card debate, the future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, and a couple trying to visit every pub and bar in the UK were among the most read stories in The Lincolnite and MyLocal Lincolnshire in 2023.

The Lincolnite, and our new platform MyLocal Lincolnshire, have kept you informed throughout the year and we have taken a look back at 23 stories which were among the most read (each headline contains a link to the full story):

Hercules farewell retirement flight

The C-130 Hercules soars over Lincolnshire for the last time. | Photo: Andrew Scott

In June, the Royal Air Force commemorated the retirement of the C-130 Hercules with a flypast spanning all four nations of the UK.

The farewell retirement flypast involved three aircraft and went over locations including RAF Waddington and RAF Cranwell.

The Hercules journey began in December 1996 at Marshall’s of Cambridge. Since it started RAF service, initially with the 242 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Thorney Island, the Hercules has been an essential asset in UK military and humanitarian relief operations worldwide.

Cash over cards: Lincolnshire pub’s bold financial move

Siobhan McKenna and Eugene Irwin are the manager and owner respectively at The Dying Gladiator pub in Brigg, which will go cardless from December 1, 2023.

In a bold move bucking the digital trend, The Dying Gladiator pub in Brigg became a cash-only establishment on December 1, 2023.

The pub owned by Eugene Irwin and managed by Siobhan McKenna says “cash is king” after making the decision to revert to cash only transactions to “cut down on our overheads and prevent us putting an increase onto the customer”. One of the main reasons was “increasing charges from banks and card companies”.

We also asked local businesses in Lincoln to voice their views on the debate, and many are not ready to give up on cash just yet.

Couple on nationwide pub crawl

Dale and Holly outside their favourite Lincolnshire pub – The Houblon Arms in Oasby near Grantham.

Dale Harvey and his wife Holly are on a quest to experience every single pub and bar in England and their journey is dubbed ‘The Great British Pub Crawl’.

By August, he had already visited more than 100 free houses in the county, mostly independent, and picked out his top five, as well as saying that Lincoln Jazz Cafe was where he found the best version of his favourite cocktail, piña colada.

The couple returned to Lincoln in November to visit some more bars and pubs, and of course we had to join them. During this visit Dale also found a new rival for best piña colada at The Strait and Narrow.

Watch a video of their second Lincoln visit on the MyLocal Lincolnshire Play tab here.

The future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport

| Photo: DSA

The future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport was thrown into disarray when it closed in November 2022 after a strategic review by Peel Group. But news of a potential reopening would allow Lincolnshire to ‘fulfil its potential” according to Colin Davie, portfolio holder for economic development at Lincolnshire County Council.

A business case found that the airport would be financially viable, with scope to make it profitable within five years. Also outlined in the report was a plan to support some 5,000 direct jobs, and capability to serve two million customers per year after a decade of returning operations.

Doncaster Council has been working to find a new investor to lease the site for a long-term period. Last month it was announced the first stage of the procurement exercise to find an operator had closed, with four bidders invited to the next stage. It is hoped that an operator will be finalised in Spring 2024.

This comes after it was previously reported that City of Doncaster Council and the Mayor’s Office were reportedly close to agreeing a deal with The Peel Group for a 100-year lease on the airport. The Peel Group would maintain ownership of the site.

Pedalling to a halt in North Hykeham

Paul Hutson has announced that he will be closing Arrow Cycles in North Hykeham at the end of July. | Photo: Arrow Cycles

Arrow Cycles proudly described itself as Lincoln’s largest independent cycle store before closing down after over three decades of business this summer. The business located on Newark Road in North Hykeham was founded by Ted and Carole Thompson in 1988 before they took on Paul Hutson 10 years later.

In 2008, Paul took a “leap of faith” and bought Arrow Cycles from Carole after the sad passing of Ted two years earlier. He later announced with a “heavy heart” that the shop would be closing its doors at the end of July.

Memorial to Guy Gibson’s dog remains at former RAF Scampton base

Guy Gibson’s dog’s grave at RAF Scampton | Photo: WLDC

This summer also saw West Lindsey District Council make the decision to keep the memorial dedicated to Guy Gibson’s dog at RAF Scampton. The memorial is dedicated to Wing Commander Gibson’s black labrador, whose name ni**er is now known as a racial slur.

In May, the RAF proposed relocating the grave to RAF Marham in King’s Lynn, citing concerns that it may be at risk due to the government’s plans to house up to 2,000 asylum seekers at the site. In one of the most controversial planning application debates of recent years, members of the council’s Planning Committee firmly believed that relocating the grave of the black labrador would diminish the historical significance tied to the former Dambusters base. As a result, they unanimously rejected the proposal in July.

New £3m leisure and entertainment complex for Lincoln in 2024

Documents say STACK will open in the new year. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Plans for a new £3 million leisure and entertainment complex in Lincoln’s St Marks Shopping Centre have caused excitement this year.

STACK was granted permission to replace the former Argos store in Lincoln, boasting 10 street food outlets, five bars, a coffee shop, a roof terrace, a central plaza area, and a stage for live performances within a large-scale hospitality venue.

Documents supporting a new planning application last month revealed the operation is “planned to open early in the new year [2024]”.

High-flying Lincolnshire teen earns top GCSE grades two years early

Max Carter was only 13 years old, but his talents were clear. He scored the top grade of 9 for GCSE maths and further maths two years early – and will now study it at A Level. | Photo: David Carter

Max Carter passed maths and further maths GCSE exams two years early in 2023, achieving the maximum grade of 9 with no formal teaching. After discussions with teachers, his parents allowed Max, a William Farr School pupil, to sit GCSE mock exams last winter, despite only being a year eight student at the time, and the decision proved to be a good one. He even helped his sister Ruby with her A Level maths work with relative ease.

Max aced the mocks with flying colours and was submitted for real GCSE exams this summer, which he completed at the age of just 13. He has now set himself up to complete A Level maths studies in 2024, while his classmates prepare for their GCSEs. Max would like to study the subject at the prestigious Oxford or Cambridge Universities in the future.

Chris Moyles’ ‘billion pound’ idea to start a Lincoln taxi company (and open a pub)

Chris Moyles took to Lincoln to check out our beautiful castle and cathedral. | Photo: Chris Moyles

Chris Moyles spoke to us about his big plans for Lincoln, including a ‘billion-pound’ taxi idea and possibly opening a pub in the city, before his DJ set of 90s classics at the Engine Shed in May 2023. The 49-year-old presenter on Radio X featured in a story in The Lincolnite in 2021 where he criticised three-hour wait for taxis as he visited family in the city. This year, he was still adamant that Lincoln needs better taxi provision.

“I’d be a billionaire if I set up a taxi company in Lincoln. I’d call it Kerching because talk about a gap in the market!,” he said. He added: “If I were to buy a pub in Lincoln I could get my brother to run it. It could be a complete disaster and it would make no money – but it would be the greatest pub in Lincolnshire.”

Lincoln woman demands answers after ‘opportunistic’ parking fine overturned

There have been ongoing issues at the car park at Tritton Road Retail Park for several years. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Lincoln woman Jan Salihi took a stand against parking firm UK Parking Control (UKPC Ltd), accusing them of levying “malicious and opportunistic” parking fines after she got hers overturned. For over seven years, we have been reporting on issues related to parking fines at Tritton Road retail park, which is run by UKPC Ltd. Throughout this period, the company has remained elusive, often failing to provide a statement.

Jan was hit with a £100 fine after visiting the retail park in May. She was told the fine would be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days. Fortunately, she successfully contested the ticket and the charge was dropped. However, she is worried about the potentially “malicious and opportunistic” nature of these fines and questions how many people simply pay them without challenging it.

Lincoln inventor’s game-changing device takes the worry out of wearing stoma bags

Bradley Davis is an inventor from London. He moved to Lincolnshire last year and is hoping his latest product, a vibrating device warning you of a full stoma bag, will help people feel more comfortable going out in public. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Inventor Bradley Davis feels he has found the solution to the embarrassment of stoma bag leaks or bursts in public. He created the Stomabuddy, a clippable device that gently vibrates to notify users when their Ostomy bag is full and needs replacing. Bradley discovered the need for intervention by speaking to an elderly man about his experiences with a stoma bag, and the way it can shrink your confidence in public settings.

Bradley also created easy to tie rope devices for able bodied and disabled people who want to continue their love of boats, as well as a device that allows you to clip drinks to a table without fear of them spilling once you hit the open water.

Private party racks up £15k bill at Lincoln lap dancing club

| Photo: The Lincolnite

A lap dancing club in Lincoln hosted an evening to remember for one person’s private party, with a tab of £15,000 run up by the individual in just one night in October. Club Desire, or Desire Gentlemen’s Club, on Park Street took its biggest individual bill from a customer since it opened in 2021. Due to the nature of the business, the identity of this person has been kept anonymous. Customer X hired the venue outside of its usual opening hours.

Prison officer jailed for affair

Katie Loxton (right) and inmate Adam Higgs (left)

Prison custody officer Katie Loxton found herself drawn to an unlikely suitor, Grantham inmate Adam Higgs, at HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire. Her frequent visits to Higgs’ block didn’t go unnoticed. Whispers among her colleagues turned into suspicions. When confronted, Loxton brushed it off, but investigations uncovered that the duo had set up a fictitious contact on Higgs’ cell phone, bypassing the prison’s watchful security system.

Woman jailed for laundering £95k from husband cocaine

Kerry Long | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Lincolnshire mother-of-five Kerry Long admitted laundering £95,000 from her husband’s cocaine trade and was jailed for 27 months. Long spent the criminal cash on holidays, expensive clothes, dental work, home improvements, Amazon purchases and a part share in a static caravan.

The two sides of life in Lincoln’s ‘most anti-social area’

Matthew Lane. | Photo: James Turner

Residents in Lincoln’s ward with the most anti-social behaviour complaints, Abbey ward, told us that statistics don’t tell the full story. They distinguish between the Carlton Centre area with its new housing and the streets around the Arboretum. Both areas have historically had problems, but locals say there’s more to life than that.

Lincoln nightlife nostalgia & long lost pubs and bars

Quayside and The Glass House are two much-loved venues that are no longer around in Lincoln. | Photo: Google Street View

Various nostalgic features got people talking this year, including about the nightlife of old and long lost pubs and bars. Lincoln’s nightlife sure has changed since I first stepped into the city in 2003 and, although some venues remain the same, the options have expanded with more bars and clubs.

However, many much-loved venues have also been lost including the before my time Cornhill Vaults, and the former university favourites of Quayside/Scream and Glass House. Readers also reminisced about pubs and bars of old, with Cornhill Vaults named as the favourite Lincolnshire venue that is no longer around.

Mystery leaks in Lincoln will be investigated

Liberal Democrat Councillors Natasha Chapman, Clare Smalley, and Martin Christopher with residents upset at natural spring water leaks on Hillside earlier this year. | Image: Daniel Jaines

An investigation into mysterious leaks on a Lincoln street has been a “long time coming,” according to local residents and councillors. Properties on Hillside Avenue, and other roads branching off Monks Road, have reported unexpected leakages, with continuous streams of water flowing along them. In certain areas, water has been leaking since 2019-20, and recently escalated this spring.

Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed the area will be central to ‘Project Groundwater Greater Lincolnshire’, a £4m government-funded initiative focusing on flood risk and groundwater management. The team will review existing reports and area-specific geological data in the coming months.

Careless driver devastates Lincolnshire family for the second time in seven months

In happier times: clockwise – Demi, Jordan, Clive and Kay Blackbourn

Spalding woman Demi Blackbourn suffered devastating injuries in a crash caused by a driver’s careless action and emotionally spoke about how it impacted her life. She is now partially blind and her health has seriously struggled since the crash last December. Her parents, Clive and Kay, were warned that she might not survive the injuries.

New life for Red Arrow: The service station that’s RAF Scampton Gate Guardian’s new owner

Rob Exelby won the auction after placing a “cheeky bid” and eventually continuing on to spend £90,000 on the piece of RAF history. | Photo: Exelby Services

Rob Exelby was buzzing with excitement after becoming the proud owner of a service station and the new custodian of RAF Scampton’s iconic Red Arrows Gate Guardian. After a spontaneous “cheeky bid” inspired by a social media post and a childhood admiration of the RAF, he clinched the BAE Hawk T1A XX306 in a spirited auction by GPSV Specialist Vehicle Auctions.

“After placing my final bid of £90,000 it was an amazing surprise to see that we’d won the auction,” he said. “My brain immediately went into overdrive to decide where we’d locate it and what work would need doing to it.” After winning the auction, Rob said he was hoping to make it a point of discussion and tourism for passers-by, who may want to take in a piece of RAF history on their commutes.

‘Malicious’ Lincoln woman jailed for lies that ex-husband was stalking her

Emma Heys, 42, was jailed for 28 months | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Wedding planner Emma Heys fabricated threatening letters and made a string of false statements to police, which led to the arrest of her estranged husband on three occasions. Heys was jailed for 28 months after the abusive notes she claimed were written by her ex-partner Chris were later proved to have been created by her.

The blueprint for RAF Scampton’s £300m regeneration

| Image: Scampton Holdings Ltd

Scampton Holdings Ltd hope to transform the former RAF Scampton site and bring thousands of highly-skilled jobs to Lincolnshire. It wants to redevelop the site in five distinct phases over the next 12 years, honouring the legacy of the Dambusters squadron and the Red Arrows.

At the heart of this £300 million revitalisation endeavour lies the creation of the A46 Midlands Aerospace Corridor. The plan also involves the creation of a Heritage Trail, designed to showcase the historical assets on the site, as well as a Living Aviation Museum Tourist Attraction. The site would also host the UK’s first Red Arrows Visitor Centre.

New broadgate cameras catch both side of road in speeding hotspot

New speed cameras on Broadgate can now capture speeding offences on both sides of the road. | Photo: The Lincolnite

New £50,000 speed cameras covering both sides of Broadgate were installed this autumn after surveys showed that every day more than 1,300 motorists break the speed limit in that area of Lincoln. A speed survey conducted by the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership in September 2022 found that on average over 500 people were exceeding the speed limit on the northbound carriageway of that road per day.

A daily average of more than 800 people were found to be going over the speed limit on the southbound carriageway. This adds up to an average total of 1,300 times that the 30mph limit is broken per day on both sides of the busy road. Of this figure, 300 were deemed serious enough to warrant police action.

End of an era as Lincoln Wilko store closes

Budget retailer Wilko is no more. | Photo: The Lincolnite

When Wilko faced administration in August, hopes of a rescue deal fizzled out. This left over 400 stores to vanish from our High Streets, all shutting their doors by October. The Range purchased Wilko’s brand and website in September for £5 million, which kept the online sales buzzing and saved 36 jobs in the digital team.

Administrators PWC unveiled a deal with the Pepco Group, the powerhouse behind Poundland, giving them rights to up to 71 former Wilko sites. However, there’s no hint of what’s next for this former county favourite. People in Lincoln have plenty of ideas for what they’d like to replace Wilko in the city centre, with an ice rink and Zara among the favourites.