How Syas made sure 2017 was a year we earned our stripes

Syas, a Bengal  Tiger hit local and national headlines this year after he settled in at a site owned by Horncastle businessman Andrew Riddel. Syas  already has  plenty of company from more than 200 other animals and could soon by joined by lions and wolves.
Syas, a Bengal Tiger hit local and national headlines this year after he settled in at a site owned by Horncastle businessman Andrew Riddel. Syas already has plenty of company from more than 200 other animals and could soon by joined by lions and wolves.

It was the year when a Bengal Tiger certainly earned his stripes in Horncastle while residents also bared their teeth in a number of high-profile campaigns.

During the last 12-months, Syas moved into his new home in Horncastle at a site owned by town buinessman Andrew Riddel.

The News was the first Media organisation to meet Syas who arrived from a circus where he had been rejected by his siblings and faced an uncertain future.

Syas joined more than 200 other animals at the site - including zebras, camels, meerkats and wallabies.

Later in 2017, it emerged Mr Riddel had submitted planning permission for encloures to house lions and wolves.

Could Horncastle’s newest tourist attraction be on the cards?

The year began with councillors at town, district and county level defending hikes in council tax bills.

It was something of a blame game with smaller councils blaming larger authorities because of the extra responsiblities they had to take on.

At the same time, services were cut with regular stories appearing about reductions in rural buses.

Complaints about road surfaces - and the standard of pothole reapirs - were never far from the headlines.

Popular county councillor Colin Mair revealed he was stepping down after surviving the killer disease sepsis.

Mr Mair had finished runner-up to Victoria Atkins in the 2015 General Election.

When a snap general election was called by Theresa May in June, Ms Atkins romped to victory - by a record margin.

Within months, she completed a meteoric rise to a ministerial role at the Home Office. The year ends with her tipped for even bigger things.

Ms Atkins was one of many people who called for a Horncastleby-pass .

Vehicle owners had to endure long delays on the A1598 to the Lincolnshire Coast, with claims the hold-ups were costing the district economy millions of pounds.

County and district councillors ‘united’ in their support of a by-pass and more than 80 per cent of residents backed the ideas in a News poll.

Yet, as ever, funding remains the main issues - apart from an actual route.

Traders though, will need some convincing with fears a by-pass could take business away from an already under pressure high street.

Two banks closed and left the town while several long-term businesses said Horncastle was a ‘ghost town.’

That brought about much anger from many of the traders claiming the town was very much ‘alive and kicking.’

New businesses did start up, with renewed claims for more free car parking.

The number of housing developments continued to be a thorny issue in Horncastle and Woodhall Spa - the latter was also the centre of national attention after a disovery of mustard gas.

As for ‘person of the year’, surely George ‘Johnny’ Johnson - the last British Dambuster - was a top contender.