Thursday, 24 November 2016


Tranquil summer scene at the Fitties

THE countdown has begun on the proposed sale of the Humberston Fitties.

Its owner, cash-strapped North East Lincolnshire Council, is hoping to reap a much-needed £1.5-million windfall by offloading the chalet park either to existing tenants or aprivate-sector operator.

The 56-acre coastal site - along with 320 holiday chalets - is on the books of York-based Edwards & Partners, a division of Leeds-headquartered national chartered surveyors Sanderson Weatherall LLP.

The agents have set a deadline of 5pm on Thursday November 30 for prospective purchasers to submit offers.

For a while, NELC  neighbouring Thorpe Park holiday centre - part of Bourne Leisure - had first refusal.

However, it is understood that the interest of Bourne, which also owns other other holiday parks - plus Butlins holiday camps - has waned.

This is partly because the roads and utilities that serve the Fitties need extensive capital investment.

The company may also have taken fright at the long history of tension between NELC and a vociferous lobby group of some of the tenants.

Much of this has revolved around whether regulations prohibiting overnight occupation during January and February should be relaxed.

Despite recent strengthening of coastal defences by the Environment Agency, the site is also highly vulnerable to flooding by the sea in the event of a freak high tide.

The site brings in an annual rent of about £245,000 to the council, with the tenants mostly paying  between £725 and £800 in ground rent per annum - more if they have larger plots. Many of the leases are due to expire in 2021.

When the marketing drive was launched last month, Adam Burkinshaw, a partner at Edwards and Partners, said: "This is a site that is well known and prominent on the Lincolnshire Coast and one that has attracted a lot of publicity in the past. 

"We anticipate a great deal of interest, both from residents' associations on the site and from the wider world of commercial operators - people who see an opportunity for active management to maintain and improve what has become  a slightly tired site.

"It needs to be modernised and brought into the 21st century."

The southern end of the site, which borders the RSPB's Tetney Marshes nature reserve, also accommodates the premises of a yacht club whose current 25-year lease is due to expire on March 30, 2021. Its rent is £4,500 per annum.

The Fitties is being offered for sale on a 125-year lease at a peppercorn rent.
Below are pictures of more of the chalets plus some other scenes from the site.



THE threat  posed to birds by Britain's fast-growing dog population has been put  under the spotlight by a county wildlife trust.
Bird and other nature charities seldom raise the question of canine menace for fear of sparking a backlash from their many dog-owning members.

But with the number of dogs in the UK now approaching  nine million, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has decided the time has come to speak out.

In a hard-hitting article (whose author's identity is not divulged), it states: "Imagine you are a small ground-nesting bird.

"Everywhere there are threats from predators. You are constantly vigilant.

"Then suddenly, running towards you, there is a ferocious beast, many times your size and with jaws that could crush, eviscerate and swallow you.

"You are terrified. What's worse is that this beast and others like it regularly come here. In fact, the landscape is swarming with them.

"Instinct kicks in , you abandon the area. It is too dangerous."

Unsurprisingly, the  focus of the article is on the impact of dogs on the LWT's own reserves  including one where four grazing sheep died after being attacked by Jack Russell terriers.

But in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area, bird populations have been reduced at sites such as the local nature reserve that run between the leisure centre and Humberston Fitties. With dogs running loose, this has become essentially a canine playground.

In Cleethorpes country park, one edge of the lake has become a no-go area for migrating sandpipers and other waders because it has been designated a swimming area for dogs.

At the Humberston end of the RSPB's Tetney Marshes nature reserve, wildfowl and waders are frequently disturbed by dogs many of whose owners disregard notices appealing for them to be kept on leads.
The article acknowledges that dogs are "beloved companions" for many people, but it continues: "Even in the time when wolves roamed these lands, there were never so many of them as there are dogs now. Wildlife has not evovled to deal with such an unprecedented number of predators.

"Areas with regular dog walking can see a 35 per cent reduction in wildlife.

"Dogs are a beloved companion for many people, but to wildlife they are a big and scary predator." 

At its nature reserve in Whisby, near Lincoln, there is a constant niggling worry that the county's last known breeding nightingales could be driven away.

 Wardens on LWT-owned reserves try to discourage dog-owners by educating them about the peril to birds and other wildlife  - but not all dog-owners take kindly to the advice. 

On its website, the LWT makes the following additional points:

  • Piles of dog dirt on sensitive habitats such as meadows and heathlands can change the nutrient levels in the soil, changing the species of plants that grow.
  • Dog dirt on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is classed as a Potentially Damaging Operation.
  • They may be domesticated but dogs are predators. Grazing livestock, birds, mammals and other animals are worried by the mere presence of a dog, even a well behaved one on a lead.
  • There have been a number of serious incidents of sheep on Trust nature reserves being attacked by dogs.
  • Ground nesting birds may be forced to desert their nests if dogs are frequently in the vicinity.
  • Disturbance by dogs, and humans, can cause seals to abandon their pups.
  • Dog dirt contains a micro-organism called Toxicaria canis that can cause blindness in people who come in contact with it. Many nature reserves are used for educational purposes. Dog dirt is a significant hazard to children and adults.
It offers a code of conduct for dog-walkers:

  • Please make sure you are allowed to walk a dog in the place you are visiting
  • Please keep your dog under close control at all times
  • Pick up after your dog and dispose of poo responsibly
  • Respect other visitors, especially those with children
  • Please do not allow your dog to jump up at other visitors
  • Please do not allow your dog or their lead to become entangled with other visitors
  • Please respect signs and requests from nature reserve team 

The controversial article which appears in the Winter 2016 edition of the Horncastle-based  LWT's quarterly magazine, Lapwings.

    Wednesday, 23 November 2016



     HUNDREDS of new homes are in prospect  for the heart of Cleethorpes.

    The site of the Thrunscoe adult education centre, off Highgate, has been earmarked for redevelopment - possibly as soon as next year.

    It emerged this week that the council is poised to relocate all its community learning  services to premises at 146 Freeman Street , Grimsby, as part of ongoing regeneration initiatives for the East Marsh ward.

    Once the Thrunscoe buildings have been vacated, they will  either be converted or, more likely, demolished so that the site can be redeveloped.

    With its proximity both the shops in  St Peter's Avenue and Sea View Street, this is a prime  location in
    Cleethorpes' Croft Baker ward.

    It is likely to appeal both to high-reputation local housebuilders such as Cyden Homes, Carr & Carr, Keigar Homes or Snape Properties which, two years ago, completed the attractive Pine Walk residential development on an adjacent plot which had previously been occupied by a nursery school with an extensive garden.

    It could also appeal to deep-pocketed national companies such as Barratt plc, Bovis plc Persimmon plc and Linden Homes, part of Galliford-Try plc.

    It is also possible that, rather than selling the site, the council might  opt  for retention and redeveloping the land under its own steam, with low-cost or rent-only houses.

    Earlier this year it set up its own subsidiary, Develop NEL, with just this sort of scheme  in mind.

    Any development scheme is likely to cause disruption during construction works to residents both in the Highgate area and in  the streets, such as Lindsey Road and Parker Street,  at the back of the education centre.

    There will also be inconvenience to staff and students working at Thrunscoe. They now face relocation.

    A spokesperson for NELC said: "Relocation from   Thrunscoe  will  generate  a  potential  benefit  for  the council.

    "If  the  site  is  disposed  of  this  it will generate  a   receipt  which  will allow other capital  works  to  be  undertaken."

    The project is being overseen by NELC's capital and assets programme  manager, Wendy Fisher, and David Brierley who is development and regeneration technical advisor to NELC's private-sector partner, Engie.

    Some parts of the site are attractive and worth retaining - just look at those magnificent windows

    An imaginative architectural  firm such as Cleethorpes-based Mark Hodson could probably come up with an attractively-landscaped scheme that would retain the more pleasing aspects of the site
    The rear of the building which had to be secured with palisade fencing 11 years ago after it became a gathering point for vandals. One of the back rooms is used as a polling station for the Croft Baker ward. The extent of weed growth is a reflection of council spending cuts on ground maintenance.
    When Snape Properties redeveloped the neighbouring plot, the new homes sold quickly
    Popular estate - Pine Walk, off Highgate

    Another part of the Pine Walk development
    The former Thrunscoe nursery which was cleared to make way for the Pine Walk scheme
    The leafy grounds of the former  nursery


    TWO Grimsby houses that were due to go under the hammer this evening have been sold prior to the auction taking place.

    The two three-bedroom terrace houses, both currently let, are:  148 Willingham Street and 284 Willingham Street.

    Details of the sale prices have not been divulged by auctioneers J.H. Walter, but the guide price for both had been £35,000.

    Still up for grabs is a two-bedroom flat above McColl's shop at 193a Grimsby Road in Cleethorpes. The guide price is £22,500

    The property is first lot in the auction to be he held at 7pm today at The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Brayford Wharf North, Lincoln.

    Tuesday, 22 November 2016


    Tom Fleming - cultural guru

    HOW can towns such as Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Immingham get themselves on to the UK's cultural map?

    Currently probably regarded as something of a backwater, the three towns - along with the rest of  North East Lincolnshire - are to come under the focus of a consultancy, the Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy. 

    According to the council, which has commissioned the work, the brief is to "explore and provide guidance on how to achieve a major shift in the borough's  cultural and leisure activities and status" over the next three years.

    In particular, NELC is keen to ascertain whether is scope to develop a new major attraction - for example an art gallery - in the area and how this could "achieve sustainability".

    An art gallery could allow public access to existing collections and artefacts which  are currently held in storage.

    The authority is also keen to explore the future role and growth potential of the Fishing Heritage Centre.

    And it wants to know whether there the area's currently limited  programme of events and festivals could be developed to extend activity in to the off-season

    Based in East London, the same consultancy (which was set up in 2002) has already undertaken  similar projects in  Glossop, Bristol, Swansea and even Singapore.

    Its chief is Tom Fleming who describes himself as " a leading international expert on the creative economy, cultural and arts policy and creative cities and regions".

    It is not known how much  NELC is paying the consultancy for its survey nor whether any other firms or individuals were given the opportunity to bid for the contract. 

    Perhaps the famous portrait of the Mona Lisa could come on loan from Paris to Grimsby

    Thursday, 17 November 2016


    SOPHIE Wignall is new tourism supremo at North East Lincolnshire Council.

    After nine years with the Grimsby-based authority, she has been promoted following the retirement in summer of previous post incumbent Sue Marshall.

    Educated at schools in Humberston and at Franklin College, then Nottingham Trent University, she is also a director of P. Surfleet Plumbing and Heating. 

    She was previously a non-executive director at So Thai restaurant in Cleethorpes and also worked for a year in London within the marketing department at global food giant Heinz Ltd.

    Says Sophie: " My passion and interest has always been business improvement, service and managing teams.

    "My 15 years' experience in both the public and private sectors has given me an understanding of business operations, strategy and growth. 

    " I thrive in my current role and in helping to make North East Lincolnshire a great place to live, work, invest and visit. 

    "Working in a fast paced, challenging and busy environment keeps me alive."

    In her new role, Sophie will have a key role to play in NELC's recently-announced proposal to overhaul its approach to tourism.
    The Discovery Centre in Cleethorpes - council-owned tourism asset


    Tuesday, 15 November 2016


    Trespassers not welcome - ABP has recently strengthened the palisade fencing 

    A DERELICT parcel of land on the boundary of Grimsby and Cleethorpes  could be used as a base for decommissioning redundant offshore oil and gas installations.

    According to its sustainable development manager, Tom Jeynes, this is one of the options being considered by the company for a  former railways sidings site - known locally as New Clee waterfront -  which lies between the Blundell Park home of Grimsby Town FC and the Humber Estuary.

    The land, mostly scrub-dominated, is popular with dog walkers, especially those living in Harrington Street and Suggitts Lane. It is also of ecological interest, both  because it contains numerous wild flowers and because it is a stop-off point for migrating birds, including rarities such as red-backed shrike and  bluethroat.

    Subject to planning permission being granted by  North East Lincolnshire Council, other development possibilities for the site  include maintenance workshops for servicing offshore windfarms, fish processing units and additional berthing for shipping.

    However, the current "front-runner" is to use the land for storage of cargo - possibly including cars which might involve the construction of multi-storey car parks.

    Mr Jeynes was giving evidence at a two-day planning inquiry, being held at Grimsby Town Hall,  into an application by local resident Robert Palmer and supporters for an "historic route" through the land  to be confirmed as a footpath.

    ABP is opposing the application because it believes a public footpath would compromise any future development proposals.

    Mr Jeynes acknowledged that land had been  used for recreational purposes by "trespassers" gaining access through vandalised palisade perimeter fencing, but he said there had never been public access "as of right".                                                    
    Grimsby's dock tower provides a backdrop to one of the numerous Keep Out signs 

    He  said the land posed a health and safety risk and that there had been cases of arson in which grass had been set alight.

    Earlier, Andrew Fraser-Urquhart QC, representing ABP, maintained the company had inherited the site as successor body to the British Transport Commission.

    "It is of no consequence that the land is currently vacant,"he declared. "It is part of port operational land."

    The inquiry is being conducted on behalf of DEFRA by planning inspector Martin Elliott who has been hearing evidence from further witnesses in advance of conducting a site visit.

    He is not expected to announce his decision until early in the New Year.                                         
    Behind the fence - potential site for cargo storage?

    Monday, 14 November 2016


    Europarc - there are plans for North East Lincolnshire's flagship business park  to have a sister development between Grimsby and Immingham

    AMBITION plans are being drawn up for a new "europarc-type" business park to be developed on the outskirts of Grimsby.

    The focus of North East Lincolnshire Council's regeneration team has fallen on  84 hectares of land adjacent to the A180 and Stallingborough interchange.

    If the 20-year project goes ahead, hundreds of jobs could be created - both in the construction stage  and after completion.

    The authority has not yet made its plans public but preliminary discussions have taken  place with the North East Lindsey Drainage Board about site preparation.

    At its  annual meeting - held  on Tuesday (Nov 8) at The Amethyst hotel in East Halton - the board's chief executive, Trevor Vessey, revealed that the first phase of the project was likely to consist of office accommodation, with warehousing and storage to follow.

    "I understand the proposed development  will be similar to europarc,"he said.

    Sunday, 13 November 2016


    THOSE who fell in battle were solemnly remembered in Waltham this morning. They gave their today for our tomorrow.

    Saturday, 12 November 2016


    STRONG and sustained drizzle put a dampener on this morning's fun run staged on Cleethorpes seafront to raise funds for Poppy Appeal and military charities. However, the occasion still attracted about 50 participants, both adults and children, plus Army cadets and dignitaries including the mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Coun Christina McGilligan-Fell. Below are some scenes from the event.