The Year Ahead: Ursula Lidbetter – New beginnings

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2017 already promises new beginnings, exciting projects and tough challenges for myself and my colleagues at Lincolnshire Co-op.

We’re partners in the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park. Early 2017 will see the first tenants take their place inside The Boole Technology Centre. These firms, which will have innovation and science at their heart, will help boost local employment opportunities and will be the catalyst for many more.

The redevelopment of Lincoln’s Cornhill Quarter is being led by Lincolnshire Co-op and the Corn Exchange will welcome its first tenants by summer 2017.

I’m excited to see the refurbished building open for business again. It will look magnificent and add something special to what our city offers shoppers, alongside the footfall that new names Flying Tiger Copenhagen, Cosy Club and Moss Bros. will bring.

Part of our ethos as a co-operative is to positively impact the local economy as well as investing in our own services for the benefit of our members.

One big project, which will culminate in February 2017, is the opening of a hub of our services in Holbeach – we’re creating a site which will host our food store, post office, pharmacy and also, the local library.

Like the libraries we already run inside outlets in Waddington and Splisby, Holbeach Library will be overseen by a team of dedicated volunteers. We’re proud we’ve been able to step in and help sustain these community facilities.

All successful businesses are vigilant over costs. They need to be ever more so in 2017 where we’ll see rising pension costs, the national living wage and the apprenticeship levy. It’s important to stay on top of these, making sure you think ahead, analyse what will affect your business and prepare thoroughly.

The impact of Brexit is something all firms will have to carefully consider and react to when appropriate. We have some great colleagues who are EU nationals and we will vigilantly watch out for changes which may impact them.

Further cuts to community pharmacy funding is on the cards. We’re going to continue campaigning on this issue on behalf of our members and patients – we believe community pharmacy is a vital resource.

There are always hurdles to overcome and challenges to be met. So that’s why it’s wonderful when something brings people together.

The Lincoln Barons’ Charter Trail in 2015 did just that. It was a huge success and something that Lincoln BIG, the Trussell Trust and Wild in Art were rightly proud of.

2017 will bring the Lincoln Knights’ trail. Lincolnshire Co-op is a sponsor and having seen ideas for the knights from local artists, I’m sure it will be another spectacular highlight for our city and beyond.