A SUBSTANDARD road network and poor rail connections are holding Skegness back as a tourist destination, key figures from the town have told their MP.
Numerous criticisms of the region’s current transportation infrastructure were raised with Mark Simmonds when he attended a meeting hosted by the Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
Speaking at the North Shore Hotel, town centre manager Stefan Krause said: “I feel that roads should be the biggest project for Skegness.
“We are listed as the fourth most visited holiday resort in the UK but we are limited by our roads.
“There was a recent gridlock which left people siting in their cars for two and a half hours, unable to get from one end of the town to the other - we cannot have that!”
Although sympathetic to the concerns raised, Mr Simmonds said that he felt major changes would be unlikely in the current economic climate.
And despite hoping that more money would be available in the future, he expressed doubts that any significant road alterations could be unanimously agreed upon, even then.
“Even in times of plenty, would transport be a priority?” he said. “Would we get complete agreement from everyone in the community including the farmers who would have to sell their valuable agricultural land to extend the A52 from Boston and Skegness? I feel that’s highly unlikely.”
Faced with those obstacles, he felt improvements to the train service would be a more achievable transport aspiration to focus on as a means to attract visitors from the resort’s traditional East Midlands tourist market.
However Chamber member, Roy Sanderson, who owns a farm said no one had consulted him on whether he would be prepared to sell his land and if they had, he would certainly consider it, if the price was fair.
And Glennis Brown also felt more people in the town would prefer to see road improvements to railway alterations.
Mr Simmonds conceded that he had heard similar viewpoints expressed in the town, but felt it would be a hard task to convince the government unless the three tiers of local government could agree - which he said had been the biggest obstacles for suggested projects in Boston.
Returning to Mr Simmonds’ support for rail improvements, Mr Krause suggested direct services from London as one possible aspiration, which had already generated interest from Network Rail.
Although somewhat sceptical about the scheme’s viability, Mr Simmonds said he would make ‘supportive noises’ in discussions with the rail operator.