Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Reprieve for Local Residential Care Home

Lincolnshire County Council has revealed more details on its proposals to improve respite and day care centres across Lincolnshire with brand-new, state-of-the-art facilities.

Closing five council-owned care homes is expected to save taxpayers one million nine hundred thousand pounds a year whilst those opposed to the scheme claim it to be "another nail in the coffin".

The proposal recommends the authority's homes in Lincoln, Gainsborough, Boston, Spalding and Louth should be closed. With the potential for up to two hundred and thirty jobs losses. But the remaining three facilities in Nettleham, Sleaford and Grantham are expected to see changes if the plan is approved next month.

Linelands, in Nettleham provides twenty-seven beds, including fifteen for intermediate care and fifty-six day care places per week. Under the plans, the number of beds remains the same, but the number of day care places drops to forty-five.

Protests against the changes have been taking place throughout the year. Mrs. Elaine Smith, who cares full-time for her mother, Mrs. Lilian Smithson, and has used both Linelands and Bonner House in Sleaford for planned respite care is reported in the Lincolnshire Echo as saying:
"We made it clear that we were not just fighting to keep Linelands open, but all of the eight care homes.

"It does not make good business sense to have spare beds available for respite.

"The vast majority of people who go to these homes have a carer and it’s another nail in the coffin for carers who save the Government millions and millions of pounds a year. It's appalling."
The Conservative-controlled authority says it costs nearly one-thousand pounds per week for a bed in its care homes. This would decrease to five hundred per week for a bed under a new system run by private and charitable companies.

The paper reports that the authority insists changes are required with the introduction of personal budgets, which provide people with more choice by allowing them to buy the care they want, rather than a council choosing where they go.

The county council intends that any monies raised from selling buildings would be reinvested in providing better dementia care services.

Leader of the Council, Cllr. Martin Hill OBE, Conservative (Folkingham Rural Division) is reported to have commented:
"It's not about saving money, it's about providing a much better service and much more dementia services."
The local Branch Secretary of Unison, Mr. John Sharman, said:
"We can see our campaign has saved three of the homes and we would say this is a partial victory."
Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, said:
"Local residents will be pleased that pressure from a number of sources, including Nettleham Parish Council, has potentially secured the future of Linelands. The County Council face difficult decisions in this area and the whole basis of financial planning for the authority must be being examined."

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Giles McNeill Resigns as Area Chairman of CF Lincolnshire

Giles McNeill has today resigned from his post as Area Chairman of Conservative Future in Lincolnshire in a letter to the East Midlands CF Regional Chairman, Thomas Turrell, copied to local activists he said:
"I would like to tender my resignation from the post of Area Chairman of Conservative Future in Lincolnshire. Owing to growing work commitments and the prospect of the considerable challenge presented by the move to 'all out' elections for West Lindsey District Council next year; I feel I am not best placed to continue in this role.

"I have enjoyed very much both of my Chairmanships of Lincolnshire and the successes that the Area has achieved in recent years to all parts of Conservative Future in the county.

"In the future I look forward to supporting you in your role as Regional Chairman & the executive team, my successor (pro tem), Mr. Robin Hunter-Clarke, and continuing as Branch Chairman for Gainsborough CF. The challenges we face in 2011 - the referendum on AV, local council elections and continuing to build a strong youth movement rooted in Conservative values across the East Midlands - will require hard work and dedication and the careful avoidance of side-issues which steer us all from our core objectives."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

West Lindsey District Council Move to Whole 'All Out' Elections

Yesterday evening Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council voted to change the electoral process by which elections to the local authority are conducted.

Since the authority's creation in April 1974 the district has elected councillors by the 'Thirds' principle - that is to say that every year an election is held for one third of the seats on the council and in the fourth year an election takes place for Lincolnshire County Council. Councillors are elected to serve a four year term of office.

West Lindsey District Council is one of the two hundred and one local authorities that are part of the two-tier system of local government - with a county council and district council. Of these councils sixty-nine elect their members by the 'thirds' method, currently used by West Lindsey District Council to elect one third of the membership every year excepting the year when elections are held for the county council. The majority, one hundred and twenty-three elect their members in 'all out', whole council elections, whereby every councillor is elected at the same time. The remaining seven authorities elect by the 'halves' method where half the councillors are elected at any election, in one year the county council has an election and one year no election takes place.

The West Lindsey district is divided into twenty five wards the wards vary in terms of the number of councillors returned and a number of other factors. Gainsborough North and East both return three councillors, the South West ward returns two councillors together with the Caistor, Cherry Willingham, Market Rasen, Nettleham, Saxilby, Scotter and Welton wards. Finally, the Bardney, Dunholme, Fiskerton, Hemswell, Kelsey, Lea, Middle Rasen, Scampton, Stow, Sudbrooke, Thonock, Torksey, Waddingham & Spital, Wold View and Yarborough wards all return one councillor.

In total there are thrity-seven councillors elected as members of West Lindsey District Council.

Across the non-metropolitan district councils (both in single-tier and two-tier areas) in England twenty-four percent of the wards are single-member wards, forty percent are two-member wards and thirty-six percent represent three-member wards. (Following the creation of a unitary authority in Central Bedfordshire there will be six four-member wards for a transitional period between 2009 and 2011.) As a general rule a two-member ward contains around twice as many electors as a single-member ward and a three-member ward contains three times as many electors as a single-member ward.

Where a district council holds elections by thirds a third of the councillors for the whole council will be elected at each annual election. Electors in a three-member ward will vote in each of the elections, electors in a two-member ward will vote in two out of three and electors in a single-member ward will vote in one of the three elections. The particular year that those electors will vote varies from authority to authority.

As of yesterday's meeting elections for all councillors will take place once every four years - with the first whole council election on Thursday, 5th May 2011.

Some of the benefits of the Whole Council system are listed, although not an exhaustive list:
  • A Council has a clear mandate from the electorate for four years.
  • An elector can vote for the whole Council as well as a Councillor. It creates greater stability over the four year period with no chance (subject to by-elections) of a change in political control.
  • Greater propensity for change in political control.
  • It avoids a situation where political control of the Council can change in election by thirds when some electors in single member wards have no opportunity to vote.
  • All electors get an equal opportunity to vote and vote together (currently some only vote once or twice in the three yearly cycle if they live in a one or two member Ward).
  • Greater publicity for whole Council election may generate higher turnout.
  • Evidence suggests that there is slightly higher turn out in whole Council elections
  • Evidence suggests that electorate associates more clearly with whole Council elections.
  • There is likely to be reduced expenditure for the Council because of running fewer elections.
  • Correspondingly a reduced expenditure by political parties because of fewer elections.
  • Less campaigning needed by parties.