When we first started our journey towards a vision for Skegness and Mablethorpe, few could have anticipated what has occurred over the past year. With great hope, we embarked on what was going to be a substantial process of public consultations, direct engagement and face-to-face meetings to see what residents, businesses and strategic partners wanted from the Connected Coast. Indeed, the name for the dual-town bid was given purely to ensure we considered what both towns wanted and that a unified front was presented to the public and central Government.
Alas, the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that unfortunately, the consultation process and engagement ambitions we had were curtailed beyond anything we could have imagined. The Connected Coast Board meetings were not face-to-face, but conducted via Zoom, public meetings were cancelled, and grass-roots engagement on what the public wanted to see in both towns simply proved to be impossible.
What we did was adapt. By utilising video, marketing and digital advertising, we ensured we had as much engagement as was possible in what have proved to be life-changing times for all of us.
The levels of engagement we received online were unprecedented and led to countless comments via our ‘My Town’ website, where hundreds of Skegness and Mablethorpe residents left comments about what they’d like to see improved or added to their area.
From improved medical facilities to concerns about education, we saw so much variety before the October deadline and the amount of interaction we were able to get under the circumstances was really great to see. This was backed by consulting with local businesses and partners and has directly resulted in specific projects being included in our bid.
However, it must be noted that this is not the end of the Connected Coast, nor your chance to have your say. The Towns Fund is a fantastic project, and one that has already seen improvements being made. It doesn’t just stop there. The Towns Fund is meant to be a catalyst, a boost and a starting point for real change and the very beginning of a new age for the towns it has been instigated in. Therefore we fully expect further tranches of Government funding to become available and for private firms to look to the coast with renewed optimism.
Some of our identified key projects are fundamental to the area progressing both in terms of business and natural growth. Infrastructure is one of those elements, and building a solid base that is fit for purpose helps things to improve.
Our ‘My Town’ portals are still open if you want to comment or suggest improvements for towns and the Connected Coast Board is always willing to table discussions to bring projects forward.
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