Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lincoln Rugby Football Club Development Plans Stalled

The Lincolnshire Echo is today reporting that plans to spend £1.6m developing a new home for Lincoln Rugby Football Club have divided opinion in the village where it could be built. The Red & Greens are looking to move away from The Lindum in St. Giles Avenue, Lincoln, to a bigger purpose-built ground in Nettleham, north of the city.

As reported in the paper, the rugby club submitted plans to West Lindsey District Council last October to develop four full-size pitches and seven smaller ones on 32.5 acres of land based off Lodge Farm, Lodge Lane.

Parish councillors in Nettleham narrowly voted to oppose the proposal in November, with four members speaking out against it and three in favour, and Liberal Democrats district councillors Malcolm Leaning and Alf Frith unhelpfully expressing no view.

Traffic concerns were expressed by villagers, with an estimated 180 attending the parish council meeting along with club representatives.

In the most recent edition of Nettleham News a number of letters were published showing residents are both in favour and against the project, while West Lindsey has so far received seventy-two responses during the public consultation.

In total, fifty-nine have opposed the rugby club move with thirteen welcoming it.

The rugby club had hoped to start building work in April, but the paper reports that it understands the application is not currently scheduled to be considered at next month's planning committee meeting.

The authority is believed to be waiting for more information to be submitted before the application can progress later in the year.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Fly-tipped Waste Collected in West Lindsey in Just One Day

The stunning amount of rubbish above - five whole truck loads full and an assortment of doors and other flytipping debris - was collected in West Lindsey in just one day.

This has nothing to do with household wheelie bin waste; this is rubbish mainly collected from road verges and from the highways and byways of the four hundred and fifty square miles that make up our district.

It costs £832,730 a year or £2,281 a day to keep West Lindsey clean and tidy and quite a slice of that cash could be saved if people disposed of their rubbish properly.

The waste in this photograph is typical of the volume collected each day and Chairman of the Community and Waste Committee, Cllr. Mrs. Irmgard Parrott, Conservative (Cherry Willingham Ward) said:
"Our staff do a wonderful job keeping the district looking smart by not only collecting litter and clearing away fly-tipping but by emptying bins that have been used by people who have disposed of their litter responsibly.

"I urge everyone to put their litter in a bin, or better still if it is recyclable, take it home and put into a blue bin so it can be recycled into something else."

Triple Bin Success For Recycling Rates

West Lindsey District Council's recycling rate has shot up to over 50% since the introduction of the new triple bin collections and the council claims the dramatic success is all down to the way residents have embraced the scheme.

The council introduced a district-wide free green waste collection service and alternate weekly collections of refuse and recycling in September last year following a successful pilot scheme in Caistor, Keelby and Cherry Willingham.

Since then not only has amount of recycling increased by almost 25% compared to the same period last year, but landfill is down too. In the period from September to February the Council sent 7,076 tonnes of material to landfill - 1,916 tonnes less than that sent the year before. That's the equivalent weight of ten jumbo jets that have been saved from landfill in just five months!

The council now hopes to see its recycling rate improve even further as residents adapt to the new scheme.

Chairman of the Community and Waste Committee, Cllr. Mrs. Irmgard Parrott, Conservative (Cherry Willingham) said:
"While these are early figures, it is certainly encouraging to see that recycling has gone up significantly after only a few months of the changes being introduced. Hopefully as the scheme beds in and residents use their green bins throughout the summer for the first time, these figures will show an even bigger increase.

"It is vital that as many people as possible recycle garden waste because if it finds its way into a landfill site it becomes a major source of methane which is a damaging greenhouse gas."
West Lindsey's recycling spokesman Mr. Steve Leary said that the Council had achieved the dramatic increase by working with residents.
"We do understand that this was a major change for everyone and that change can sometimes bring about concerns. That's why we had a dedicated team of recycling advisors visiting homes throughout the district hopefully explaining all that you need to know about the new way of doing things.

"I'd like to personally thank residents for their recycling efforts so far. Together we have now achieved a recycling rate of more than 50%. It really is so important that we continue to safeguard resources and avoid government fines by diverting more waste away from landfill."

Monday, 29 March 2010

Poll Watch: Three New Polls Indicate Conservative Lead Growing After Labour's Budget

There are three new polls available tonight which will be published in tomorrow's papers; they all show a post-budget swing towards the Conservatives.

For The Sun YouGov has Conservatives 39% (up 2%) | Labour 32% (no change) | Liberal Democrats 18%(down 1%).

Meanwhile in The Independent, ComRes has Conservatives 37% (no change) | Labour 30% (down 2%) | Liberal Democrats 20% (up 1%).

Finally in The Daily Express, newcomer Opinium has Conservatives 38% (up 1%) | Labour 28% (down 2%) | Liberal Democrats 16% (up 1%).

YouGov’s daily poll for The Sun gives a seven point lead, up from five in YouGov's Sunday Times poll and equalling the highest they have given the Conservatives this month. ComRes show the Conservatives unchanged, but Labour dropping two since the end of last month. Opinium have a ten point Conservative lead.

The changes themself are not big, but every poll since the budget has shown a trend back towards the Conservatives. There seems little doubt that the budget has shifted things back towards the Conservatives, at least a little. The question now is whether it a lasting shift in public opinion, or whether it is just a brief downwards blip for Labour that will pass as new events take over the political news agenda.

Ministry of Defence: Treating Injury and Illness Arising on Military Operations

Edward Leigh MP, Conservative (Gainsborough), Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
"We recognize the good work the MOD has done up to now in caring for servicemen and women seriously injured on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department and its medical staff are providing a level of care which compares favourably with that provided by the best NHS hospitals.

"What concerns us is the extent to which the MOD would continue to be able to provide that high standard of care if the casualty rate were to increase significantly. Selly Oak Hospital, where returning casualties are first treated, offers injured troops a military culture and environment, expertise in dealing with serious battlefield injuries and wider support for families. The Department needs detailed and robust plans for how it would replicate these important elements in other NHS hospitals and provide the same high standard of care if Selly Oak became full.

"The MOD is planning to expand the capacity of Headley Court where troops with serious and complicated injuries go after Selly Oak for rehabilitation. Given that the facilities at Headley Court are likely to come under increasing pressure, the Department must make sure that the extra beds to be provided are enough."
Mr. Leigh was speaking as the Committee published its 27th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Ministry of Defence (the Department), examined its treatment of injuries and illnesses arising as a result of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A total of 565 service men and women have been seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001. Over the same time, some 125,000 troops who were based in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought medical help for minor injuries and illnesses, and a further 1,700 for mental health conditions. Medical care for troops injured or ill on operations is first provided by medical officers in the field. More serious conditions are treated at the field hospital at Bastion. Nearly all seriously injured troops who return back to the UK for medical treatment go first to the NHS hospital at Selly Oak and then to Headley Court for rehabilitation.

The Department’s care of the seriously injured to date has been highly effective and the Committee welcomes the efforts of the Department in this area. The Department has developed a number of new medical techniques which have contributed to this. The Department’s success is demonstrated by the rates of unexpected survivors, which are favourable compared to major trauma victims treated by the NHS. The Committee also commends the good work of the Department to support the families of seriously injured troops.

The main challenge the Department faces, should casualties increase significantly, is to ensure that all military patients will receive the same standard of care they currently experience at Selly Oak and Headley Court.

Some soldiers have suffered severe life changing injuries and will require specialist care for many years. This presents a further long term challenge not only for the Department who provide specialist care for them and support for their families while they remain in the Services, but also for the NHS and other government departments who will become responsible for the medical care and support of seriously injured soldiers after they leave the Armed Forces.

Minor injury and illness are a lesser issue but still have the potential to impact on the fighting strength and morale of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and the increase in rates from 4% to 7% since 2006 is of concern. The Department believes that increased reporting is in part responsible for this rise but cannot quantify the significance of any one individual factor.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Councillor Calls for Supermarket Booze Ban

The Lincolnshire Echo is reporting that alcohol should be removed from supermarket shelves in Lincolnshire to help prevent alcohol abuse, a senior Conservative county councillor has claimed.

Cllr. Mrs. Christine Talbot, Conservative (Bracebridge Heath & Waddington) believes a pilot scheme should be tested by supermarkets to see what impact taking booze out of stores would have on drinking habits within the county.

The paper reports that the County Council member has said her personal vision for the next ten years would also include raising the age limit to purchase alcohol from 18 to 21.

Cllr. Mrs. Talbot told the Lincolnshire Echo that action is needed to be taken to change the drinking culture which had developed in recent years.

Cllr. Mrs. Talbot is reported as saying:
"The average adult would go and buy a bottle of wine for the occasion, not buy wine with your shopping. I know it's cheaper to do both but sometimes when you are in the supermarket there is more wine than alcohol."
Cllr. Mrs. Talbot said she was concerned about the trend of 'pre-loading', which involves people drinking large quantities of alcohol at home before going out into pubs and clubs. She added it would be interesting to see if business in pubs improved as a result of any supermarket ban.

"Supermarkets could remove alcohol for a pilot scheme for six months and see how it affected sales.
"I think people would be in uproar and say it is unfair to do this to people who drink responsibly, while others might see it as a good idea."
The Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee, of which Cllr. Mrs. Talbot is Chairman, decided on Wednesday to examine what programmes existed within the county to tackle alcohol abuse and how to understand the contrasting problems between rural and urban areas.
The review is expected to take between six to eight months.

EXCLUSIVE: Lincoln City Councillor Resigns

Cllr. Oliver Peeke, Conservative (Moorland Ward) has resigned from Lincoln City Council.

Cllr. Peeke was first elected on Thursday 29th June 2006 in a by-election beating competition from Labour, Liberal Democrat, British National Party and United Kingdom Independence Party candidates.

He was born and educated in Billingham, attending St. Michael's Roman Catholic School and completed his A Levels at Bede Sixth Form College. He went on to gain a Bachelor of Arts in Politics at Lincoln University.

Oliver Peeke was formally City Council Cabinet member for Tourism and Economic Development in Lincoln. He oversaw organisation of the annual and famous Lincoln Christmas Market and was keen to revive aspects of Lincoln such as the now derelict Grandstand. He was compelled to resign his post over a story published in the Lincolnshire Echo relating to his Facebook profile. More recently he has courted controversy again with his views on Climate Change and Global Warming.

He is currently Deputy Chairman of Lincoln Conservative Association where he plays a key role in organising local Conservative Party campaigning.

Cllr. Peeke has been and remains an advocate of personal freedom, enterprise, low taxes, liberty and is a supporter of the Cornerstone Group of Conservative MPs.

It is understood that Cllr. Peeke resigned on Monday, 22nd March 2010 citing wanting to follow a career in teaching.

His resignation means that the Moorland Ward will have two vacancies to be filled at Local Government Elections the Lincoln City Council Website states:
"Following Councillor Oliver Peeke's resignation as a Moorland Ward councillor of the City of Lincoln Council, the vacancy will be filled in the election held on 6 May 2010."

Local Parliamentarian to Chair Faldingworth Meeting

Mr. Edward Leigh MP, Conservative (Gainsborough Constituency) will chair a public meeting Today, Friday, 26th March 2010, to discuss noise from explosive testing at Faldingworth.

The meeting to be held at 7:00pm at the village hall will discuss investigations carried out by West Lindsey District Council on behalf of local residents. The Council has also been informing local people of test dates through their website and noise measurements have been taken from the garden of a local resident.

As there is no industry-specific legal guidance on noise from explosive testing, the Council commissioned specialist noise consultants to produce a report with recommendations about how the situation might be improved for local residents.

The consultants will give a presentation on their noise report and there will be an opportunity for questions after the presentation.

Mr. Chris Allen, Public Protection Services Manager at West Lindsey and Mr. Dave Norman from the Health and Safety Executive, will also be on the panel.

Mr. Allen said:
"The public meeting provides an opportunity to share the consultant's noise report on the Faldingworth site and to seek the views of local residents in taking forward the recommendations."

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Liberal Democrat Dentist Cleared of Five Sexual Assualt Charges

Update to 'Lib Dem Dentist Denies Sexual Assault Charges As 'Bizarre' and 'Ridiculous'', 'Former Local Lib Dem Councillor 'Groped Breasts of Four Patients' Court Told', 'Dentist Facing Fresh Sexual Assault Charges In Court' and 'Three Charges of Sexual Assault Denied by Lib Dem'.

Dr. Adrian Heath, who failed to get elected as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament at the last General Election, was accused of 'weighing' the breasts of one of his victims before he 'tweaked' her nipple.

Right: Dr. Adrian Heath outside Nottingham Crown Court.

Dr. Heath, of Rosebury Avenue, Lincoln, was cleared by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of five counts of sexual assault.

It was alleged he assaulted four different women between November 2007 and August 2008. After leaving the dock, Dr. Heath fell into the arms of his wife, Cllr. Mrs. Helen Heath, Liberal Democrat (Carholme Ward) and burst into a flood of tears.

During the eight-day trial, he described the allegation he groped one his patients at the Genesis Dental Care practice in Gainsborough, as 'bizarre' and 'ridiculous'.

Left: Dr. Adrian Heath with Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Cllr. Pat O'Connor, Liberal Democrat (Gainsborough North Ward & Gainsborough Trent Division).

Dr Heath denied ever touching the woman inappropriately. He said he was checking her glands around her mouth for signs of infection after she complained of an abscess.

He told the court:
"I unequivocally deny that I sexually touched her. I completely reject these accusations. I think they are bizarre. It's ridiculous."
Dr. Heath, formally a Liberal Democrat West Lindsey District Councillor for the Cherry Willingham Ward, who lost out to the Edward Leigh MP, Conservative (Gainsborough) in the 2005 General Election, left the court without making any comment.

Police Seize £100,000 Haul In Undercover Operation

More than £100,000 worth of drugs and stolen property have so far been recovered in a special undercover police operation centred on Gainsborough.

Cocaine with a street value of £50,000 and the proceeds of burglaries including lap-top computers have been discovered in the first six weeks of increased action funded by the West Lincolnshire Crime Reduction Partnership.

Chairman, Cllr. Geoff Wiseman, Conservative (Middle Rasen Ward) said:
"Police intelligence alerted us to an increase in crime - particularly committed by people driving into West Lindsey from neighbouring areas - and the Crime Reduction Partnership was delighted to be able to pay for the hire of vehicles and for camera technology which identifies vehicles owned or being driven by known criminals."
The result is that in the first six weeks of the operation sixty-seven arrests have been made which relate to forty offences.

Insp. Phil Baker said: "
Our team of six officers have been working in Gainsborough, Market Rasen and the surrounding villages and the operation has been a huge success.

"The money provided by the Crime Reduction Partnership allowed us to hire vehicles which cannot be identified as police vehicles and this is vital. Equally important is the camera technology which alerts us to vehicles that have been involved in crime before and we have been able to stop and detain the drivers; sometimes as soon as they enter Lincolnshire."
Cllr. Wiseman said the Crime Reduction Partnership had been delighted to help fund the operation which is continuing to pay big dividends.

"The police are sending out a clear message to thieves that if they try to operate in West Lindsey they will be hunted down, caught and put away. We are entirely behind that and I am particularly pleased that the camera technology we have helped to fund sends criminals packing even before they have a chance to cause misery in our district."

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

David Cameron Responds to Labour's Empty Budget

Mr. David Cameron, Conservative (Whitney), Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, has responded in the House of Commons to the Chancellor's presentation of the last Budget before the general election.

He said Labour
"have made a complete mess of the British economy and they are totally failing to clean it up." 
Mr. Cameron set out the big argument in British politics: Labour say 'don’t do anything before the election, let’s just sit tight and keep our fingers crossed', and the Conservatives say 'we need real action to get our economy moving – and urgently'.

Highlighting new policies that copied existing Conservative proposals, such as the stamp duty cut and new university places, he said the "
only new ideas in British politics are coming from this side of the House" and that "the only thing Labour bring are debt, waste and taxes."
The figures that stands out above any other, he said, was that Labour have 'doubled the national debt, and they’re going to double it again'.

Outlining the Government's failure Mr. Cameron criticised 'all those schemes that they launched with great fanfare' for failing to help enough people. He also drew comparisons on the state of the economy when Labour came to power to the present – including the huge increase in the debt and deficit, and a falling down the global league tables in terms of competitiveness, tax and regulation.

We need a credible plan to deal with Britain’s record debts", he said, criticising the Chancellor’s repeated hope to halve the deficit by 2014 as giving us a deficit "almost as big as when Denis Healey went to the IMF in the 1970s".

Moving on to the delay in dealing with the deficit, he said 'the risk to recovery is not in dealing with the deficit now, it’s in not dealing with the deficit now". Mr. Cameron said that 'every family knows that when your debts mount up, you need to start paying them off or things will only get worse', and that it is time for the Government to learn the same lessons.

"The Prime Minister and Chancellor faced a choice – between bold action in an election year or playing politics. Once again, they chose politics."
Mr. Cameron also emphasised the need 'to show the world that we are back open for business', saying that because Labour 'flunked the difficult decisions on spending, they are raising tax after tax after tax – all after the election'. 'These are the ticking tax bombshells timed to go off the day after the election and that will destroy our recovery.'

He said that the greatest risk to Britain's economic recovery was another Labour government. He said:
"No one has yet thought of a question to which the answer is five more years of this Prime Minister.
"We need a credible plan to cut the deficit. We need an unleashing of enterprise across the nation. We need a plan to boost employment through radical welfare and school reform. If ever there was a time when this country needed a radical change of direction it is now."
Mr. Cameron concluded that Britain needs a Conservative government 'to clean up the mess made by this Labour Government'.
"Britain needs new energy, leadership and values to get this country moving again. That’s the argument we’ll take to the country the moment the Prime Minister has been forced by the law of the land to call the election he has avoided for so long."

Budget 2010: Alistair Darling to Freeze Income Bands in 'Stealth Tax'

The Chancellor has decided to freeze all income tax bands, which will lead people to pay more tax on their earnings.

The tactic is being described as a classic 'stealth tax' by the Daily Telegraph and will be far larger than previously attempted. Personal allowances were last frozen almost a decade ago.

Every higher-rate taxpayer earning more than £43,875 will pay an additional £489 in tax as a result of the move, and 75,000 more people will pay this higher-rate tax for the first time.

The level at which inheritance tax becomes payable will also be frozen.

The moves are expected to be confirmed in the small print of the Budget and the rates will apply from next month.

The income tax grab comes on top of the new 50p higher rate of income tax which will come into effect next month for those earning more than £150,000.

Mr. Darling will also remove tax breaks for those earning more than £100,000. The targeting of people earning more than £100,000 is expected to raise an additional £1.2 billion.

Mr. Darling is also expected to confirm that Government borrowing is on course to total more than £1 trillion over the next few years following the 'extraordinary' actions taken to tackle the financial crisis. But speaking to Parliament at 12:30 this afternoon, he will refuse to sanction any immediate cuts to public spending, warning that it may endanger the recovery.

The Chancellor, who may have to cross a picket line of striking civil servants in order to deliver his third Budget, will today deliver what he promises will be a 'sensible, workmanlike' package of financial measures.

Mr. Darling is still expected to unveil billions of pounds in new public spending. He will announce that £1 billion of taxpayers’ money will be used for a new green investment fund. Extra money will also be earmarked to help the long-term unemployed. Schools are also set to be given extra funding.

The extra spending will be paid from the extra tax take. Government borrowing is also expected to be about £10 billion less than expected which has given Mr. Darling some room for manoeuvre.

Among the measures he is expected to announce is a new drive to stop tax evasion; a move to force banks to offer bank accounts to anyone who wants one in an effort to help those who see it as a barrier to employment; and he will update MPs on how far he has progressed to get international agreement on a global bank levy.

But discussions are still taking place over whether Mr Darling could afford to halt a planned 3p rise in fuel duty. If he does go ahead with it will mean motorists will have to pay even higher pump prices at a time when they are already heading through the 120p a litre barrier because of soaring oil prices.

There is also likely to be bad news for drinkers with a planned 5% increase on all wine and spirits.

Mr Darling is expected to revise down slightly the borrowing figures and will use it as a sign that the worst for the economy is over and that a feared 'double-dip' recession will not happen.

In a statement last night the Chancellor could not resist a barbed comment directed at Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Mr. Darling said Britain had come
"through what had been the most difficult circumstances for well in excess of 60 years."
When the Chancellor stated in the autumn of 2008 that the crisis would be the worst for 60 years he was attacked by Number 10. Last month, in an uncharacteristic intervention that lifted the lid on tensions between him and Mr. Brown, he admitted 'the forces of hell' had been unleashed on him by the Prime Minister’s advisers.

Mr. Darling attempted last year to play down the impact of freezing tax allowances as inflation was actually negative. However, inflation has now begun rising sharply which means the freezing of the tax bands is set to become a major financial issue. Inflation is currently running at three percent.

All of the main income tax bands will be frozen for the next year – including the tax-free allowance and the level at which higher-rate tax becomes payable.

This so-called 'fiscal drag' means that people pay proportionately more tax on their earnings, after receiving a pay rise. Most pay deals are linked to inflation. Income and other tax allowances typically rise in line with inflation.
If keeping pace with inflation, the tax-free personal allowance should rise from £6,475 to £6,669. However, by freezing the rate at £6,475, the Treasury will raise an additional £1 billion and every taxpayer will pay an extra £40 in tax.

The rate at which higher-rate tax is paid will also be frozen at £43,875. However, it should increase to £44,995. The Treasury will make an extra £450 million as a result - £489 for every higher-rate taxpayer, according to accountants.

The inheritance tax threshold is being frozen at £325,000 – which will raise £60m in extra revenues for the Treasury.

Last night, Mr. Mike Warburton, tax partner at Grant Thornton, the accountants, said:
"Inflation was negative last year so this was not an issue – but it certainly is not negative now. Freezing the allowances in this way shows ministers are back to their old stealth tax tricks."
The Conservatives will today warn of the extreme danger to the British economy if the debt problem is not addressed more quickly. The opposition have drawn up new research that shows the Government’s debt interest payments could reach more than £106 billion a year within five years.

Using what has happened in Greece as an example of how Britain’s debt problem could spiral. That figure would represent a trebling of the Government’s annual debt interest bill and it would be more than the annual NHS budget in England.
It would mean the cost of paying the interest on the national debt interest would rise from the equivalent of £24 per family per week to over £80 per week, or from £1,250 per year to £4,320 per year.

The Conservatives last night also announced that they are inviting people to dissect the Budget via the Tory party website – known as 'crowd sourcing'.

West Lindsey Nets £181,000 To End Flood Misery

Two bids for flood alleviation funding totalling £181,000 compiled by West Lindsey District Council have been backed by the government.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that £96,000 has been awarded towards a project at Fiskerton and a further £85,000 for work at Sykes Lane in Saxilby.

A further £53,000 has been awarded to a Lincolnshire County Council project to provide highways improvements and a water course diversion scheme in Waddingham which will also ease flooding.

A delighted Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr. Adam Duguid, Conservative (Market Rasen Ward) said recognition from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was a just reward for councillors and officers who have worked tirelessly to bring flooding relief to local people.

"The terrible events of June 2007 focussed everyone's attention on the need to do as much as possible to prevent property flooding on that scale ever happening again. By implementing these grant funded schemes, approximately 90 households that were previously vulnerable to flooding will be protected.
"We have done remarkably well to secure a slice of only £5 million available nationally - West Lindsey was the only district council in Lincolnshire to be successful - and we are fully committed to doing everything we can to get more funding for other schemes in our area that urgently need implementing."
The terms of the funding mean that schemes have got to be complete by March 2011, and in Fiskerton work is due to be completed as soon as August 2010.

The Fiskerton project is the result of West Lindsey District Council, the Third Witham Drainage Board, developer Morris Homes and the local parish council all working together on a scheme which will intercept water from the north of the village and then divert it under the village - rather than through it - to the drains to the south and then out to the North Delph.

The scheme is designed to resist a six hour storm with an additional thirty percent capacity built in to allow for climate change.

In Saxilby there are known flood risk problems on Sykes Lane and the funding award will be used to tackle flood risk from surface and ground water after heavy rain and to re-route water away from the village towards established and maintained watercourses to the north.

Making the funding announcements, Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:
"Local authorities have a crucial role to play in tackling flooding and it's vital that they have these funds now so that work can begin on resolving local flooding immediately. At the same time they will have the chance to develop the understanding and skills they need for the longer term. We wanted to make sure these funds went to where they are most needed and where they can make the biggest difference."

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Nettleham Becomes Home to New Football Association Headquarters

Football Association Vice-Chairman Mr. Barry Bright said Lincolnshire will be at the forefront of developing the game as he officially opened the county's Football Association headquarters yesterday.

The £750,000 project has seen the Lincolnshire Football Association move from their cramped and dated base in Dean Road, Lincoln, to the new offices in Nettleham.

Although Lincolnshire Fottball Association staff have been working at the site for three weeks, the official opening ceremony took place yesterday, with Mr. Bright and former Manchester City and England player Mr. Dave Watson among the guests.

"It is the first time I've seen the building and when I drove up to it I thought 'wow'."
"It's a good county headquarters, as good as any in the country.

"The building provides superb working conditions and will help in the development of football.

"The FA set up the national strategy developing the game for 2008 to 2012, and is investing £25m at grassroots levels.

"Lincolnshire is playing its part and has reacted well to the development changes although there's lots of work still to be done."

GE2010: Lincoln: Health Minister to Face Sacked NHS Boss at Election

Ms Gillian Merron, Labour (Lincoln), Minister of State for Health, faces a new challenger to an already cowed field for the Lincoln seat at the coming General Election, widely expected to be on Thursday, 6th May 2010.

Mr. Gary Walker is putting himself to the public vote in the battle to become Lincoln's next parliamentarian. He was fired last month following a spat over missed NHS targets, Mr. Walker said it was the injustice he felt about this and being incensed by the MPs' expenses scandal that had spurred him into politics.

The Lincolnshire Echo report that the former chief executive of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust says he is more than a single-issue candidate.

"I think everyone's disillusioned with all party politics and I hope my standing shakes things up in Lincoln," said Mr Walker, who lives in Canwick.

"All the parties have got good policies, but if I had to place myself, I would be somewhere between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

"One of my major policies is health, which I know most about. When I was chief executive of the local hospitals, I created more than 400 jobs.

"Despite this, Lincoln has seen a decline in jobs and unemployment has doubled since 2008. That must change. We need to create a vibrant city and attract investment and support local business."
The declared candidates for the Lincoln Constituency at 2010 General Election are:

Mr. Ernest Coleman, English Democrat.
Mr. Karl McCartney, Conservative.
Ms Gillian Merron MP, Labour.
Cllr. Reg Shore, Liberal Democrat.
Mr. Nick Smith, United Kingdom Independence Party.
Mr. Gary Walker, Independent.
Rev. Robert West, British National Party.

Lib Dem Dentist Denies Sex Assualt Charges As 'Bizarre' and 'Ridiculous'

Update to 'Former Local Lib Dem Councillor 'Groped Breasts of Four Patients' Court Told', 'Dentist Facing Fresh Sexual Assault Charges In Court' and 'Three Charges of Sexual Assault Denied by Lib Dem'.

A Lincolnshire dentist and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate has described allegations that he groped one his patients as 'bizarre' and 'ridiculous'.

Dr. Adrian Heath, formerly a Liberal Democrat District Councillor at West Lindsey for the Cherry Willingham Ward, who failed to get elected as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament in 2005, is accused of 'weighing' the woman's breasts in his hands before 'tweaking' one of her nipples.

The alledged assault happened as Dr. Heath checked the patient's glands at the Genesis Dental Care practice in Gainsborough, after she complained of an abscess in her mouth, a jury has heard.

The first assault took place in front of one of the woman's friends and a dental nurse in August 2008, Nottingham Crown Court heard. The jury was told he then asked the woman's friend to leave the room while he carried out an X-ray.

Dr. Heath then allegedly assaulted the woman for a second time, removing her left breast and then right breast from her bra and 'weighing' them in his hands before 'tweaking' one of her nipples. The court heard that when the 44-year-old asked his victim to undo her trousers she refused, saying that she had been 'embarrassed enough'.

Dr. Heath denies the charge, saying he never touched the woman below the bottom of her neck. He said the woman also complained of pain down her left side and she pointed to near her armpit.

Questioned by Mr. Julian Woodbridge, defending, he said:
"I unequivocally deny that I sexually touched her. I completely reject these accusations. I think they are bizarre. It's ridiculous."
Dr. Heath, who lost out to Edward Leigh MP, Conservative (Gainsborough), in the 2005 General Election, was arrested by police at his surgery the day after the alleged assault.

Earlier in the trial the victim's friend told the court she witnessed the first assault. She said:
"He felt her mouth, then her neck and then the left side of her breast."
Dr. Heath, who is also accused of assaulting three other women, denies five counts of sexual assault between November 2007 and August 2008. The dentist, of Rosebery Avenue, Lincoln, whose wife, Cllr. Mrs. Helen Heath, Liberal Democrat (Carholme Ward) is a City of Lincoln Council member, is currently on bail. The case continues.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Abortions in Lincolnshire Have Risen in Past Six Years

There has been a eighteen per cent hike in the number of abortions carried out in Lincolnshire within six years the Lincolsnhire Echo reports today.

The figures for show that there were 1,645 terminations paid for by NHS Lincolnshire in 2008 compared to 1,392 in 2002. And for the past three years where statistics are available, there has been a steady rise with 1,459 county abortions in 2006, 1,593 in 2007 and 16,45 in 2008.

Lincolnshire bucks the trend with the number of abortions nationally falling by 1.6 per cent from 2007 to 2008.

The paper report that Dr. David Baker, a local general practitioner and Lincolnshire representative for the British Medical Association, said it is difficult to interpret the Lincolnshire statistics but he feels that the stigma surrounding terminating a pregnancy is reducing.
"I don't know whether more people are using abortion as a contraceptive technique which is obviously not advisable or maybe terminations are more readily available."
"One has to be careful not to seem to be preaching but it is not a risk free procedure and prevention beforehand is much better than the emotional trauma afterwards."

Citizens Advice Bureau Sees Increase In Calls

The Gainsborough Standard is reporting that troubled economic times have led to an 'unprecedented' surge in people seeking help from staff and volunteers at the West Lindsey Citizens Advice Bureau.

The papers reporter, Ms Jen Foster, visited the Citizens Advice Bureau office on North Street, Gainsborough to learn more about the work they do.
West Lindsey District councillors have recently voted to give increased funding to the bureau.

Ms Jenny Barnett, Bureau Manager, is reported to have said
"This office does not just cover Gainsborough but the whole of West Lindsey. We offer general advice on a range of issues including debt, benefits, finances, tax, housing, consumer, family and relationship issues.
"Helping people builds on their self esteem and ultimately creates community cohesion. There are many volunteers helping at the bureau and this has been the ethos of the CAB for more than seventy years."
The Citizens Advice Bureau goes back to 1938 when the prospect of war loomed, the National Council of Social Services, the forerunner of today's National Council of Voluntary Organisations, established a group to look at how to meet the war-time needs of the civilian population.

The group recommended that Citizens Advice Bureaux be established, particularly in the large cities where social disorganisation was expected to be 'acute'.

War was declared on Sunday, 3rd September 1939 and the first two hundred bureaux opened on Monday, 4th September 1939. Arrangements for bureaux varied wildly – one even operated out of a horsebox. Seven decades later, the Citizens Advice Bureau are advising two million clients on six million problems from three thousand three hundred locations.

The Citizens Advice Bureau in Gainsborough is staffed by seventeen paid staff, and thirteen volunteers, and demand for their services is going up and up as the recession forces more people to get their heads round issues like debts, and redundancy. In 2010, the town's bureau expects to receive over eight thousand queries from more than two thousand people.

"The past year has been a particularly difficult time for people. There are those who would not have needed our services in the past who are now having to get in touch.

"Our services are always free, independent, and impartial, and everything discussed will remain strictly confidential."
Volunteers can use their time at the Citizens Advice Bureau to gain valuable skills for the workplace, increase confidence, keep active, or to try to make a difference to other people's lives.

She added:
"It is very rewarding and satisfying work. It is a chance to help people take control of their lives. We have a great team of hard-working staff and volunteers, and they all say they feel like they are giving something back to the community."
One of those volunteers is named as Mr. Phil Simon, the paper reports, who started at the centre about ten months ago, works on the 'gateway' advice line, where people phone in and Mr. Simon can assist them with their enquiry or helps refer them or put them through to the appropriate Citizens Advice Bureau agency.

"Spending time here is a great way to help a section of the local community, and the people here are superb which makes it all very enjoyable."
The Citizens Advice Bureau is in an independent charity with a core of funding through Government grants but they are also reliant on charitable grants.

"We are very grateful for the support of the district and town council, and we can use this funding to increase our services. One of our objectives in the future is to reach out to people in particularly rural areas."
The Citizens Advice Bureau on 26 North Street is open from 9.30am-1.30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays with sessions by appointment only. Translation services are available.
To speak to an advisor, or if you would like to become a volunteer you can call 01427 810914. Advice provided is free, independent, confidential, and available to anyone regardless of race, agenda, disability, sexual orientation, age, or nationality

Friday, 19 March 2010

When Is An 8% Increase Not An 8% Increase?

On Wednesday evening at the Nettleham Parish Council meeting held at the Mulsanne Park Pavillion a member of the public enquired as to how the comments made by Cllr. Giles McNeill, on behalf of the Parish Council, in the most recent winter edition of Nettleham News that:
"The Parish Council met towards the end of October and provisionally agreed to freeze the level of tax charged through West Lindsey District Council to local residents, known as the precept."
Could be reconciled with Council Tax bills issued by West Lindsey District Council that show an increase in the Parish Precept of 8% for the average Band D property.

The article continued and talked about the reduction in two subsidies, one for the operating costs of the burial ground, the other known as the 'per capita subsidy' which has traditionally been £2 per elector.

Under the Local Government Act 1972 s.150 the Parish Council raises most of its income through a separate chargeable levy on the parish, known as the precept, issued to the council responsible for collection of local government taxes, locally that falls to West Lindsey District Council. A parish council is a local precepting authority and may issue a precept each financial year.

The member of the public was correct that thier Council Tax bill from West Lindsey District Council shows an 8% increase in the level of Parish Precept charged as a component of the Council Tax to local residents. £74.01 in 2010/11 which is an increase on the previous year from £68.52 in 2009/10.

In the current financial year, 2009/10, the parish council has received £101,243 as precept income. This comprised of £90,358 as precept collected through the Council Tax, £4,967 as burial ground subsidy, £100 as the automatic base per capita subsidy - all parish and town councils currently recieve £100 - together with £5,818 being £2 per elector within the parish.

The figure quoted in the booklet, which accompanied Council Tax bills, for 2010/11 shows a precept of £98,222 collected through the Council Tax, but excludes £100 as the automatic base per capita subsidy together with £2,921 being £1 per elector within the parish, which is collected through the council tax, but found from West Lindsey's part of the Council Tax. The total being a precept requirement of Nettleham Parish Council of £101,243 the identical amount as the current year.

The increase shown on Council Tax bills is therefore not an increase in the amount of money precepted by Nettleham Parish Council but in fact is caused because revenue that used to be collected through the District Council's portion is now being accounted for through the Parish Council's portion of the Council Tax.

Cllr. McNeill has said:
"I apologise if this was not clear; the term 'freeze' applied to the level of precept income received and not the level of taxation charged to residents."
District and Parish Councillor Cllr. Alf Frith, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward) noted at the meeting that the per capita subsidy had been introduced many years ago to ameliorate the fact that Gainsborough did not have it's own Town Council, which changed in 1993 when Gainsborough Town Council was established. Cllr. Frith also noted that at that time the per capita subsidy had come to the end of it's natural life and should have finished.

A senior official at West Lindsey District Council has indicated that:
"I know of no other authority in the country that has a per capita subsidy like this."

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lib Dems Show No Respect For Duty or Local Residents

Last year, one of West Lindsey's district councillors, Cllr. Peter Heath, Liberal Democrat (Scampton Ward), resigned.

He resigned in such away that it guaranteed that local residents would have no representation at West Lindsey for half of the year.

Stepping down on Thursday, 5th November 2009, meant that it was too close to the local government elections, scheduled for Thursday, 6th May 2010, so a by-election would not be held. So the residents of Aisthorpe, Brattleby, Cammeringham, Fillingham, Glentworth, Ingham, Scampton and Thorpe-In-The-Fallows have been left without a Councillor for six months.

Local residents have been rightly annoyed. Those applying for Planning Permission, for example, who would normally turn to their district councillor, if they had questions or issues that needed resolving, have had to struggle on.

Residents across the district are dismayed at the disrespectful way that Liberal Democrats treat their offices and duty to local people.

One Liberal Democrat District Councillor is known to be on a four month cruise, and has been holidaying since January, although council workers have been embargoed from discussing the matter publicly.

Nettleham's Lib Dems Fail To Support Flood Prevention Bid

Last night Nettleham Parish Council agreed to a proposal by Cllr. Giles McNeill to attempt to draw down new funding from West Lindsey District Council to assist in Flood Prevention.

The funding package of £165,000 was announced in West Lindsey District Council's Budget at the beginning of March and made a priority for the district by Cllr. Mrs. Meg Davidson, Conservative (Fiskerton Ward), who is also a Nettleham Parish Councillor. A bid for somewhere in the region of £10,000 will be made.

In the floods of June 2007 numerous properties were flooded and the Parish Council were active in investgating and seeking recommendations for solutions. To that end the Parish Council engaged the services of Faber Maunsell, leading consultants on such matters and a report was produced. A key recommendation was:
"Development of a hydraulic model of Nettleham Beck and its tributary through Danby Hill."
This would assist in the analysis of various scenarios and potential solutions. Whilst every other member of Nettleham Parish Council were able to support this proposal. Cllr. Alf Frith, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward) and Cllr. Ray Sellars, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham & Saxilby Division) could not support the proposal.

Cllr. Giles McNeill said:
"I think it is what we have come to expect from [Cllrs. Sellars & Frith], they dither and attempt to rationalise their actions, but in reality they didn't have a good reason to object, it was political posturing and not in our community's interest.

"The money from West Lindsey District Council lets us take action that helps to build the argument for making improvements against the flooding risk situation in the village."

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Electoral Commission May Prosecute Returning Officers Who Fail To Conduct Night Time Counts

A week ago, Eric Pickles MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party, called for the Electoral Commission to give Returning Officers an 'unambiguous steer' that General Election counts must take place on the Thursday night.

Yesterday, the Electoral Commission published a draft of its guidance, which will not be definitive until the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill becomes law, however currently it is by all accounts quite encouraging.

The guidance instructs Returning Officers who were thinking of counting on the Friday morning that they
"will now need actively to re-consider what steps it is reasonable to take in order to be able to commence counting the votes before 2am"
and reminds them that
"if they do not take reasonable steps, a court may find them to be in breach of their official duty under Section 63 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended)."
The draft guidance goes through some of the factors which Returning Officers will need to bear in mind when making their decision - venue availability, staffing, geography - and reminds them that anyone who does decide on a Friday count will by law have to be able to 'provide an audit trail demonstrating their decision making process'.

You can read the draft guidance in its entirety here.

Mr. Pickles responded to the publication of the draft guidance by reiterating his call for Returning Officers to do as Parliament has bid and prepare for a General Election Night count:
"Parliament has made a clear change to the law, creating a presumption in favour of overnight counts in the forthcoming general election. With the exception of the most geographically remote parts of the United Kingdom, town hall Returning Officers should now be actively planning to count their Parliamentary election on election night. Those who announced Friday counts should be making the necessary arrangements to revert back to Thursday evening counts. If unelected Returning Officers intend to defy the will of Parliament, they should come clean and say so now. There is still time for the Bill to be amended to make it more robust so that Parliament’s democratically expressed wishes can be duly implemented."
Acknowledgement: ConservativeHome | CentreRight | 17/03/2010

Local Schools Forced to Face Reality by Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council are taking tough decisions in light of the recession and local schools face necessary cutbacks after years of generous investment.

Some limited job losses and cuts in resources are predicted for Lincolnshire schools, when their budgets are announced at the end of the month, as they tighten their belts along with everybody else.

The Lincolnshire Echo reports that headteachers are bracing themselves for Wednesday, 31st March 2010 when they learn how much money they will receive from the local education authority - Lincolnshire County Council.

One thing they do know, is that it will be significantly less than in the last few years. The cuts, which are an inevitable effect of the economic mess brought about the recession, will challenge all schools in the county.

The paper reports that St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic High School in Lincoln is believed to be losing four staff members and up to eight support staff. Although the County Council can not at this stage comment on this sort of speculation.

Mr. David Hellier, Chairman of the Governors, is reported to have said:
"As with every school in the country, the headteacher and governing body are having to acknowledge that school budgets are not going to be as generously funded as they have been in the last ten years."
Mr. Ed Fitzpatrick, Headteacher at Cherry Willingham Community School, said:
"Most headteachers should have been aware that it has been coming for a long time – in other words, we have had ten years of relatively generous investment and we have known for a while there are going to be significant cuts. It's unavoidable."
The paper criticises the County Council who have decided, earlier in February, to re-direct £1.5m of the schools budget to primary schools for children with special need.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Green Overhaul for Planning System to Cut Emissions & Bills

The Housing and Planning Minister, Mr. John Healey MP has today announced a triple boost for councils tackling climate change by updating planning rules, granting nearly 10million to improve green skills and backing further progress by the second wave of eco-towns.
Three planning policies have been overhauled so that councils have the very latest targets and guidance to address climate change, putting them in the driving seat of change.

Combined, the new policy statements (Climate Change, Natural Environment and Coastal Change) will give councils a green planning rulebook so new sustainable developments are planned and built with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and with the future climate in mind.

Proposals for the new climate change planning policy will ensure new developments are built in the right places, utilising sustainable sources of energy and encouraging the installation of electric car charging points.

To help councils, Mr. Healey has today granted nearly 10million to boost their expertise as green champions, updating the tools and know-how they need to develop sustainable housing and energy sources for their areas.

Mr. Healey also confirmed that a further two new areas have been added to proposed eco-town second wave originally announced in December. Two more councils East Devon District Council and Fareham Borough Council have expressed an interest in using eco-town standards for new settlements in their area. The bids need to meet the pioneering green standards set out in the eco-towns planning policy statement published last July, and will be subject to widespread public consultation and local planning approval before going ahead.

The Minister has announced a share of £10,000,000 for these areas, originally announced in December, to help generate plans and early win projects. The funding will help get proposals and masterplans off the ground, introducing greener living not only for people who go on to live in the new eco-towns, but for the thousands of people already living nearby

Mr. Healey, said:

"Today I am announcing a triple boost for councils to tackle climate change. Overhauled planning policies will act as a new green planning rulebook and the 10m for councils will provide training to help deliver action on the ground. I am also pleased to announce two new areas in the eco-town second wave. Councils are making great progress and already highlighting where they can apply tough green standards in new developments. This signals real and radical momentum to change and to re-think how we design our towns and homes for the future.

"We know we need greener, renewable energy if we are to meet our ambitious low carbon targets. We also know that the ways and means for people to access this energy needs to be quicker and easier.

"The tougher, better guidelines for planning give councils a new blueprint, reflecting the latest targets and ensuring councils put combating climate change at the heart of future development ultimately saving people money on their bills and reducing emissions.

"A consultation has been launched today for the new climate change planning policy, to ensure new developments are built in the right places, so that where people live and work helps secure radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and developments are resilient to the effects of our changing climate. This includes requirements to reduce the need for people to travel between where they live and work, encouraging the installation of electric car charging points, better public transport and improved walking and cycling links.

"The proposals aim to ensure that more of our energy will be from renewable energy sources, and applications for such sources are approved more quickly. Local councils have a hugely important role to play. Therefore empowering local authorities and giving them the skills to approve these projects means we could release more green energy from developments."
Mr. Healey also confirmed a final planning policy for managing coastal change, giving new planning powers to coastal communities to help their local economy and tourist industry. After extensive consultation, all inappropriate development such as housing will continue to be banned in areas vulnerable to coastal erosion. But there will no longer be a blanket ban on temporary development that has wider economic benefits, an acceptable coastal use and could be relocated when required.

The third boost comes in the form of a consultation on the Natural Environment planning policy, which provides councils with updated guidance to plan for and provide for green infrastructure networks of parks, cycleways, rivers, allotments and trees on streets.

The guidelines aim to boost the nations health and fitness even further by allowing more sports clubs to stay open after dark with hi-tech floodlights that cut light pollution. With floodlighting for local sports pitches, people will have more opportunities to make use of facilities in the evenings.

The City of Lincoln, North Kesteven District, West Lindsey District, and Lincolnshire County Councils wish to achieve zero carbon development that is highly adaptive to climate change and to commit to the Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement standards. A key focus on the future will be on urban extension development options around Lincoln and at Gainsborough. These potential urban extensions are mainly in single ownerships which would help to secure eco-town concepts and a high standard of sustainability. This funding award of up to £1,500,000 will support the Joint Committee in driving forward their core strategy for publication in 2011, by enabling them to undertake a detailed assessment of meeting higher environmental standards, particularly for green infrastructure and energy usage. In Gainsborough it will support a highly innovative project to retrofit existing terraced and new build housing, including the remodeling of a traditional terrace and street, by introducing greenspace and linked to a combined heat and power plant.

Former Local Lib Dem Councillor 'Groped Breasts of Four Patients' Court Told

Update to 'Dentist Facing Fresh Sexual Assault Charges In Court' and 'Three Charges of Sexual Assault Denied by Lib Dem'.

A dentist who once ran for Parliament groped four female patients after claiming he was worried that their glands were swollen, a court heard yesterday, reports The Express and Daily Telegraph.

Dr. Adrian Heath, who was the Liberal Democrats candidate for the Gainsborough Constituency in the 2005 General Election, allegedly touched women while they were in his dentist's chair in a way that had 'no clinical justification'.

It is claimed he asked one to undo her trousers after 'tweaking' her nipples and told another he was worried her inflamed glands could 'lead to other things' as he cupped her breasts in his hands, it was said.

Dr. Heath is on trial at Nottingham Crown Court accused of sexually assaulting four female patients

Dr. Heath, who is married to a member of Lincoln City Council, Cllr. Mrs. Helen Heath, Liberal Democrat (Carholme Ward), claimed he was concerned about the women's health, but a jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard the examinations were not justified. Mr. Jonathan Straw, prosecuting, said one alleged offence took place in August 2008 when a middle-aged woman was treated for a mouth abscess.

Mr. Straw told the court that Dr. Heath was alone with the woman at the Genesis Dental Care NHS practice in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, after asking his nurse to develop an X-ray in another room. He said:
"He went to stand by the woman to examine her glands because her jaw was swollen because of the abscess.

"He moved his hand down to her shoulders and explained that glands run right through the body and the abscess might have affected the rest of her glands.

"He asked if he could examine and touch her breasts. She believed it was part of a legitimate examination.

"He probed around the top of her breasts with his fingers and lifted one breast out of her bra and said: "It's swollen, I'll have to examine the other.
"He then tweaked one of the woman's nipples and asked if it hurt
At this point he replaced the breast in the bra and then asked if she would undo her trousers.

"She replied: "No, I'm sorry, you're embarrassing me now"."
When the nurse returned with the X-ray Dr. Heath asked her to stay out of the room, the court heard.

Later when the nurse challenged him about it he allegedly told her he had spotted signs of a sexually transmitted disease in the woman's mouth and needed to speak to her alone as it was a sensitive issue.

The traumatised patient left the surgery and later discussed the examination with a friend and her husband.

Both agreed it was not normal and she contacted her doctor's nurse, who advised her to go to the police.

A second patient went to Dr. Heath with an infected wisdom tooth. As she sat in the chair he told her:
"Your glands are up. That's dangerous and can lead to other things,"
before carrying out an examination of her breasts, it was claimed.

Mr. Straw told the jury the woman was already 'distraught' because a close relative had recently died of breast cancer.

The dentist, who began working at the practice in April 2008, went on trial over the same offences in September last year.

That trial was abandoned when police were contacted by a woman who had read about the case and claimed she had been sexually assaulted twice in the same way in November 2007, while Heath was working at another surgery - the Oasis Dental Practice in Lincoln.

Dr. Heath, from Lincoln, denies five counts of sexual assault between November 2007 and August 2008. He is alleged to have assaulted three women at the Gainsborough practice and one woman on two occasions at the Lincoln practice.

When arrested, he told police he had treated the women 'in an appropriate clinical way'. Dr. Heath, is a former member of West Lindsey District Council Liberal Democrat Group and stood down at the May 2008 Local Elections.

The case continues.

Poll Watch: Conservatives Regain Lead Over Labour As Lib Dems Get Post Conference Bounce

Three polls are out today. An ICM survey for The Guardian has Conservatives on 40% (up 2%), Labour on 31% (n/c) and the Liberal Democrats on 20% (down 1%) based on changes from the ICM survey in the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend. This gives the Conservatives a nine point lead and will settle party nerves and would potentially give a small majority to Mr. Cameron, if a non-uniform swing occurs, with marginal seats swinging more greatly to the Conservatives. The forty percent mark is seen as a crucial benchmark for the party being successful in a General Election.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults by telephone on 12-14 March 2010. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

New pollsters Opinium have a poll in The Express which gives the Conservatives an even greater lead of eleven points. And gives figures, with changes based on their previous poll from last week, of: Conservatives on 39% (up 2%), Labour on 28% (down 2%) and the Liberal Democrats on 16% (n/c)

Opinium surveyed 1,951 adults in England, Wales and Scotland for the voter intention survey Friday, 12th through Monday, 15th March 2010.

Finally the YouGov daily tracker, published in The Sun, has a more modest conservative lead of 5%, but once again shows a widening gap between Labour and Conservatives. The poll has Conservatives on 37% (n/c), Labour on 32% (down 1%) and the Liberal Democrats on 21% (up 4%), with changes based on the previous day's poll. The Liberal Democrats seem to be enjoying something of a post conference boost.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Drinkers Alliance Attack Government Plans To Raise Taxes on 'Middle Class' Alcohol

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, is under strong pressure from 10 Downing Street to 'make an example' of whisky, gin and vodka drinkers when he makes his Commons statement later this month, the Drinker's Alliance claim.

The debate over the plans is further evidence of the tension between Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Mr. Darling, which boiled over last week when the Chancellor said No.10 had unleashed the 'forces of hell' on him after he predicted the recession would be the worst for 60 years.

Under the 'nuclear option' plan for increasing duty – designed to appease the health lobby and show that ministers are serious about tackling the problems caused by binge drinking – the cost of a bottle of spirits would rocket, along with the cost of spirit-based alcopops favoured by young drinkers.

A bottle of Bells whisky could rise from £14.79 to £23.73 while Gordon's gin, another favourite of middle-class drinkers, would increase from £12.79 to £21.17.

Even if Mr Darling imposed a less draconian rise, industry sources are braced for increases significantly above the five per cent already earmarked for beers, wines and spirits under the government's alcohol duty 'escalator'.

That ensured a two percent rise in duty above the level of inflation every year in the Budget for four years starting last year. Under Whitehall calculations, this year's escalator would be set at five per cent.

However, leading figures at No.10 are pressing the Chancellor to hammer spirits much harder, after a series of recommendations by MPs on the health select committee last year, Drinkers Alliance claim.

They say the report demanded that 'unlike in recent years, duty increases should predominantly be on stronger alcoholic drinks, notably on spirits'.

MPs called for a return to the level in 1983 when the duty on a litre of pure alcohol was 11 percent of the average male weekly manual wage, compared with 5 percent in 2002.

Such a move would send Britain to the top of the European league table for spirits tax.

Mr. Darling is understood to be fighting the calls for the very steepest possible increases – but Whitehall sources nevertheless expect him to introduce big rises in duty on spirits, in part to raise money to help cut Britain's record deficit.

The Budget – a key springboard for Labour's election campaign – is currently pencilled in by government planners for either Wednesday, 24th March 2010.

As The Sunday Telegraph has already revealed, Mr. Brown and Mr. Darling are at odds over the package, with the Prime Minister keen for it to contain spending increases on voter-friendly areas such as schools and hospitals, as well as jobs programmes for young people.

The Chancellor, however, is holding out firmly against a 'giveaway' Budget in favour of a 'realistic' statement to reassure markets that Labour is serious about reducing Britain's £178 million deficit.

There are claims the Treasury is also drawing up plans to increase VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent – something those close to Mr Brown would fiercely resist just before the general election.

Mr. Darling reopened hostilities with No.10 with his 'forces of hell' comments – understood to have been aimed at Messrs. Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride, Mr. Brown's former spin-doctors.

Hitting middle-class drinkers with big rises in the cost of spirits would be electorally risky. However, leading figures inside No.10 are understood to be concerned that Labour is not sending out a clear signal that it is ready to get tough on binge drinkers.

The Conservatives, by contrast, have already pledged to increase the duty on alcopops and super-strength beer and cider without necessarily lifting the duty on spirits.

A four-pack of super-strength lager would rise by £1.33 and a large bottle of alcopop would increase by £1.50, under Conservative plans.

Mr. Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said:
"We are a vital industry to the UK's recovery. It is clear the Chancellor is under real pressure to significantly increase the duty on spirits.

"Thousands of jobs are at risk. The hard-working people of this country should not be made to pay for the recession.

"They should be able to enjoy a drink in these times of hardship without being penalised by extra costs. They are already paying enough in taxes. Enough is enough."

Edward Leigh MP: What a Conservative Government Must Achieve

Edward Leigh writes on ConservativeHome:

Introduction: A sorry state of affairs

Recently I was day-dreaming about what I might write on the subject of the first ten years of a Conservative government, if it happens, of course, and if I’m still around in 2020. So here goes, but just in case some eager Labour party researcher spots this, these are mine and no one else’s musings and they are only that!

Taking power for the first time in 13 years, the Conservative government had its work cut out. First of all we had the attitude that we wanted a society built on freedom, responsibility and aspiration. Our aim, our commitment was nothing less than balancing the budget during our mandate. With Public Sector Borrowing Requirement at £175 billion and the deficit running to £848.5bn as of January 2010, the financial outlook was bleak. Our deficit was equivalent to 59.9% of total national output and we were determined to undo the damage New Labour had inflicted on our economy and our communities. The main task facing our new government was how to neutralise the risk of both the IMF and Moody’s downgrading our AAA credit rating and the associated devaluation of sterling. Alistair Darling ignored the demands to cut more, and faster, and so it was up to the new chancellor to grab the bull by horns. It was never going to be easy, but with swift and decisive implementation of the right policies in the right places, we were confident that we could bring about a fundamental change in the way we spent taxpayers’ hard earned cash, and the way this country was governed for the better.

Read the full article here.

GE2010: Sleaford & North Hykeham: Opposition Leader at County Council Declares Candidacy

Lincolnshire County Council's Leader of the Opposition, Cllr. Mrs. Marianne Overton, Lincolnshire Independents (Branston and Navenby Division) has announced that she will be standing as an independent candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham seat at the General Election widely expected to take place on Thursday, 6th May 2010.
Cllr. Mrs. Overton will face stiff competion to defeat Conservative Candidate, and favourite, Mr. Stephen Phillips, to secure a seat in the House of Commons.

Mr Douglas Hogg MP, who became a focus during the MPs Expenses Scandal last year due to claims he made for moat cleaning costs, is standing down at the next election.

Cllr. Mrs. Overton, who lives in Welbourn, south of Lincoln, spoke to the Lincolnshire Echo and said that attracting more resources into all areas of the constituency and easing traffic congestion were key issues.
"I think the best MPs are the ones that have roots in the local community, understand the issues and work closely in partnership with local government."
The declared candidates for the Sleaford & North Hykeham Constituency at the 2010 General Election are:

Mr. Roger Doughty, United Kingsdom Independence Party
Mr. David Harding-Price, Liberal Democrat
Mr. James Norminton, Labour
Cllr. Mrs. Marianne Overton, Lincolnshire Independent
Mr. Stephen Phillips, Conservative

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Lincolnshire Echo are reporting that repeat victims of anti-social behaviour are getting a better service from Lincolnshire Police, according to a senior officer.

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Rhodes says this was thanks to a combination of a new computer system, improved staff training and officers' local knowledge.

The computer system, introduced at the force's headquarters in Nettleham just over a month ago, flags up repeat victims of anti-social behaviour when they call in.

This means that swifter action can be taken in referring cases to the anti-social behaviour teams and local police officers and bobbies on the beat.

There were 30,793 incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded in Lincolnshire between April and December 2007, compared to 31,264 in the same period in 2009.

These included cases of hoax calls, nuisance neighbours, prostitution, fireworks, drunken behaviour, shouting and swearing and abandoned vehicles.

Lincolnshire Police won praise for the way it can identity victims of nuisance behaviour by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary – more than half of the forty-three forces in England and Wales cannot automatically identify repeat victims, leaving officers in ignorance of some of the most vulnerable people who need help.

The death of Mrs. Fiona Pilkington has shone the spotlight on shortcomings in how police and other authorities respond to cases where vulnerable people are constantly tormented by yobs.

She committed suicide and killed her severely disabled 18-year-old daughter Francecca after gangs kept them prisoners in their home in Barwell, near Hinckley in Leicestershire.

Mr. Rhodes said tackling anti-social behaviour was one of Lincolnshire Police's key priorities.

"It is crucial we take anti-social behaviour seriously and identify it really quickly when people contact us and strike while the iron is hot, working hard solve problems," he said.

Friday, 12 March 2010

GE2010: Great Grimsby: Victoria Ayling Ditches Soap Box for Fish Box

ConservativeHome are reporting that Mrs. Victoria Ayling, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Great Grimsby, a fishing port, who has swapped the traditional 'Soap Box' for a 'Fish Box'.

Mrs. Ayling is reported as saying:

"It was custom made with the Conservative logo and imprint on it, and I appear around the Constituency, stand on it and have impromptu question and answer sessions. In fact it is going down very well and some are nicknaming the box Victoria's Plaice."

Thursday, 11 March 2010

New Play Equipment for Bill Bailey's Field

At last night's Nettleham Parish Council Property Committee Meeting the committee, which had previously agreed to purchase some new equipment at the Bill Bailey's memorial playing field, agreed the final stage of the project. The decision will need to go to full Council for ratification, however in the coming months some new equipment, for a slightly older age group, will be installed.

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill said:
"I want to ensure that families have facilites for there children in the village, obviously Nettleham can not provide for everybodies needs, but we can make our play areas accessable to children of all ages and this newequipment helps us do just that."
The play equipment will be funded by the Parish Council from the parish's reserves, possibly from grant funding, and new Bill Bailey's Capital Expenditure fund which Cllr. McNeill proposed be established.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

GE2010: Lincoln: BNP Annouce A Priest As Candidate

The British National Party have announced that a clergyman is set to challenge incumbent Lincoln parliamentarian Ms Gillian Merron MP, Labour, in the forthcoming general election, widely expected to be on Thursday 6th May 2010.

Rev. Robert West, a former district councillor, was named as the party's prospective parliamentary candidate at a meeting of its North Kesteven branch which also saw Scopwick and Kirkby Green parish councillor Mike Clayton put forward as a candidate for the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat set to be vacated by retiring Douglas Hogg MP, Conservative.

The Lincolnshire Echo reports that Rev. West said he anticipated support from residents disillusioned by the current state of the country.

"There is so much wrong with Britain, and I think Lincoln is right in with the rest of the country in having concerns about family values, the lack of discipline in schools and the massive rise in crime – which is partly to do with immigration, but more a collapse in values in this country. I think the Bishop of Lincoln is a character who needs to be challenged to stand up for Christianity more because he's not doing enough."
Rev. West was ordained into the small Pentacostal sect the Apostolic Church more than three decades ago, and the paper reports, says he now has little to do with the ministry, but still practises christenings and marriage blessings. Lincoln is not his first attempt at gaining a parliamentary seat – the Holbeach resident last year received 2.7% of the vote in the Norwich North by-election.

"I know I'm not walking distance from the Cathedral, but I've visited Lincoln quite frequently as it's only an hour away – I'm not a foreigner."
The Lincolnshire Echo also report that Architect Cllr. Clayton said he was hopeful of garnering support from locals to go with, what he claimed was, a doubling of party membership in Lincolnshire in recent times.

"And I've seen a lot of support in Sleaford and North Hykeham. We are not just a protest vote."
But the candidacies have been met with apprehension by some of the city's minority groups.

Miss Una Thomas, of the Lincoln Afro Caribbean Society, said she couldn't understand why a political party like the British National Party existed, let alone why they would want to stand in such a diverse county.

"Why do they think they can win? "With them here, it could bring turmoil. Why can't they leave us to live in peace?"
The paper quotes Ms Merron as saying:
"In last year's local elections, people in Lincoln resoundingly rejected the BNP's policies of hatred and racism – with their candidates coming last in every ward that they stood."
The declared candidates for the Lincoln Constituency at 2010 General Election are:

Mr. Ernest Coleman, English Democrat.
Mr. Karl McCartney, Conservative.
Ms Gillian Merron MP, Labour.
Cllr. Reg Shore, Liberal Democrat.
Mr. Nick Smith, United Kingdom Independence Party.
Rev. Robert West, British National Party.

Biker killed in A46 Lincoln Bypass Tragedy

The Lincolnshire Echo is reporting that a motorcyclist was pronounced dead on the scene of an accident which caused the A46 Lincoln bypass to close for four hours.

The rider, believed to be a middle-aged man from the Nottingham area, was riding a red Triumph motorbike which was in collision with a van and a car.

The other vehicles involved were a blue Daf van driven by a North Hykeham man and black Toyota saloon owned by a Lincoln resident.

Neither of the drivers were injured.

Congestion rippled across the city following the collision which occurred at 11.25am on Friday causing both carriageways of the A46 between the Riseholme and Nettleham roundabouts to close.

Spokesman for Lincolnshire Police, James Newall, said:
"This incident took place when there would have been a fair amount of traffic on the roads. It is vital that we get information from as many witnesses as possible while it is still relatively fresh in their minds.

"The road was closed for a significant amount of time to enable our collision experts to carry out their analysis of the scene and for recovery teams to clear the stretch."
The Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership confirmed this was the seventh fatality on the county's roads so far in 2010 and the fifth accident causing injury on this stretch of the A46 in five years.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Poll Watch: Populus Poll of Marginals Shows Tory Ten Point Lead Nationally

There is a Populus poll of marginal seats in The Times today, Mr. Peter Riddell’s commentary is here.

The headline figures in the poll is Conservatives 38%, Labour 38% and the blogosphere has naturally become very excited, but what it means however, depends upon which seats were polled.

The Populus poll sampled Labour held Conservative targets from which rank between fifty and one hundred and forty-nine on the Conservative's target list, so excluding the fifty Labour-v-Conservative seats with the smallest majorities.

Mr. Riddell’s calculates these seats had shares of the vote of Conservative 31.4%, Labour 45.3% in the 2005 General Election. On that basis this poll represents a swing of approximately 6.7%, just short of the sort of swing the Conservatives will need for an overall majority to form the next government.

There has not been a national Populus poll for a month, so it is too early to tell if this poll suggests a larger lead in the marginals than at a national level, a hypothosis being spun by most attendees at the Conservatives' Spring Forum in Brighton two weekends ago.

However, the swing this poll suggests that the swing in the marginals would be equivalent of a ten point lead in the polls nationally, a larger lead than most polls from other companies have been showing in recent weeks.

Acknowledgement: UKPollingReport | Anthony Wells | 08/03/2010