Tuesday, 29 March 2011

West Lindsey Step In To Keep Vital Bus Service Operating

Elderly and vulnerable passengers who rely on a door to door bus service to get around the district have been given a helping hand.  The Dial-a-Ride bus service which is equally subsidised by West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council will stop running next month.

The county council is stopping the county-wide scheme to cope with the recent Government funding cuts.

However, to ensure passengers are not left stranded in the district - they have struck up a deal with West Lindsey District Council to enhance the existing Call Connect Service.

They have agreed to transfer their share of the Dial-a-Ride Funding to the existing Call Connect service.

Community Officer at West Lindsey District Council, Mrs. Karen Yates said:
"We are delighted that we have managed to come up with a suitable agreement.

"Without alternative provision, the effects on many West Lindsey passengers, who are not able to access public transport, would have been greater than other districts."
West Lindsey is just one of two district councils in Lincolnshire to secure a deal with the county council.  Mrs. Yates added:
"We have allocated 50 per cent of the funding totaling £37,980 to extend the scheme.

"The vast majority of Dial-a-Ride passengers will be able to use the service with extra benefits."
There are three Call Connect buses in the district and a further bus has been added to cope with the additional Dial-a-Ride passengers making a total of four.

More than 100 passengers have transferred from the Dial-a-Ride scheme to Call Connect Plus.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Anger at Parish Council's 14% Council Tax Hike

Local residents of Nettleham have been reacting angrily to the arrival on their doormats of Council Tax bills showing 14% increases in the portion of Council Tax taken by Nettleham Parish Council. One local resident described their reaction as 'astonishment'.

Whilst other local authorities that cover Nettleham, such as the Police Authority, and the Conservative-controlled County and District Councils, have managed to freeze their portions of the Council Tax.

Another local resident enquired:
"I wonder if you could explain to me why Nettleham have a 14% increase in the Parish precept this year after an 8% rise last year? It does seem an unusual increase, considering the austerity measures being taken by district Council."

The 8% rise last year was not an increase in the amount of precept requested from by the Parish Council (full explanation here). In the Spring 2011 edition of the Nettleham News the Parish Clerk, explains that:
"This represents an increase of less than £9 per annum per household (1,570 households). This increase is due to the loan repayments for the re-roofing of the village hall, the removal by West Lindsey District Council of the ‘per capita’ subsidy (£3,021), Parish Elections costs (£2,000) due to WLDC decision to implement Whole Council Elections in 2011 (despite the fact that Nettleham held parish elections in 2010), the Parish Council’s decision to set aside an additional allocation to project reserves of £3,500 and necessary inflationary increases on utilities."
This explanation, whilst not inaccurate, does attempt to muddy the waters. Most people care about the percentage increase in the bill not the specifics in cash terms and a decision was taken to omit the '14%' figure from the release to the Nettleham News. Secondly, the per capita subsidy had been introduced many years ago to ameliorate the fact that Gainsborough did not have it's own Town Council. This changed in 1993 when Gainsborough Town Council was established. There is broad cross-party agreement that at that time the per capita subsidy had come to the end of it's natural life and should have finished. Thirdly, since 2005 the Parish Council has precepted £2,800 for Election costs, yet has only spent £404 on election costs in the same period. The £2,000 put into the 2011/12 budget could have been taken from reserves and the £2,396 which has been accumulated has gone into the general reserves. At the start of February the Parish Council's General Reserve stood at £29,934 and had £74,935 in Capital Reserves.

A significant number of incumbent councillors voted, earlier in the year, to approach West Lindsey District Council and extend their term of office to five years. Whilst other councillors took the principled view that election should not be avoided.

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill said:
"I understand local people's anger. I am proud to say that I opposed the budget for 2011/12. I also put forward my own proposals which would have achieved all the aims my colleagues identified - such as re-roofing the Village Hall - and would have led to a slight reduction in your Council Tax bill.

"Some of my colleagues it seems just don't get finance; in the 2010/11 budget I managed to ensure that we didn't put tax up any more to cover the cost of the burial ground and at our last meeting I was vindicated as the figures showed for the year to date the site had generated income.

"I have long felt that a number of my colleagues are profligate with public money and have a 'the village can afford it attitude'.  But I think of the little old lady, living on her state pension, alone, having to find extra money, I know that is wrong.  Many residents would no-doubt be shocked to learn that the Parish Council often has a surplus at the end of the year. This year a surplus of £5,600 (5.5%) is expected.

"I hope that if there is a contested Parish Council election this year people will take it seriously and consider what they really want from the people who serve the local community on Nettleham Parish Council."

Friday, 18 March 2011

No2AV: Ken Clarke Launches Campaign in Lincoln

Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke QC MP
The Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke MP QC is expected to be in Lincoln later today launching the Lincolnshire Conservatives' No2AV campaign.

He is expected to address local activists this morning and address the issue of why getting a 'no' vote in the referendum on Thursday, 5th May 2011 is so important.

Spreading the No2AV message is very important in the run up to the crucial referendum on AV.

Conservative County Chairman, Cllr. Mrs. Rachel Hubbard, said:
"If the referendum is not in our favour there is no opportunity to go back again, the AV voting system will become law immediately and our [First-Past-The-Post] system will be lost forever at General Elections. Lincolnshire is has a huge role to play in helping stop this convoluted and unfair voting system."

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Edward Leigh MP Wants 'Insulting' Removed From Public Order Act

Edward Leigh MP has urged the Government to repeal the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. Mr Leigh's comments came during a Parliamentary debate on the Protection of Freedoms Bill on 1st March 2011.

During the debate Mr Leigh listed numerous examples of people whose free speech had been restricted by the existing law.

You can watch footage here.

Home Recycling Growth Means Extra Sites Can Close

Expensive to run recycling sites throughout West Lindsey are set to close now that the district council has extended the range of materials that can be recycled from residents’ homes.

Recycling sites at places including supermarkets and village halls have been successful in the past for collecting paper, glass and cans, but now all of these materials can be recycled in blue domestic wheelie bins or plastic sacks, the authority has seized the opportunity to save £18,000 a year.

National cuts in Government funding have hit councils throughout the country and West Lindsey has been left with a funding gap of £2.5 million over two years.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Lib Dems Lose Councillor To Labour in North East Lincolnshire

Cllr. Cliff Barber, Labour
(Freshney Ward)
Cllr. Cliff Barber, now Labour (Freshney Ward) has made the decision to defect from the Liberal Democrat group to Labour group on the North East Lincolnshire Council.

Cllr. Barber has said he felt it was in the best interests of the residents of his ward for him to serve them as a Labour member. It means that of the 42 elected members, the Conservative party continues to have the most seats, with fifteen.

The Conservatives had the most councillors with fifteen. The Liberal Democrats now have fourteen councillors, Labour now have twelve councillors and there is one Independent. However, after the local elections last year the Liberal Democrats took control with support from the Labour group.

Cllr. Barber, peaking to the Grimsby Telegraph, said:
"I have not rushed into this decision and have thought about it for a long time.

"I am one hundred percent for the community on my ward and I feel I have a better chance of helping them as a Labour member.

"I feel I will get more support from the Labour party and I have a better future with them.

"Local residents have said they will not vote for me in the future as a Liberal Democrat and I think nationally Nick Clegg has done huge damage."
Cllr. Barber, a councillor for two-and-a-half-years, will not be due for re-election until May 2012. He said he now wants to work with his fellow ward councillors on some 'fresh ideas'.

The Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Cllr. Andrew De Freitas, Liberal Democrat, said:
"I am surprised and slightly disappointed that he has seen it necessary to take this step.

"It is times like these when the loyalties of members are severely tested because we are part of a Coalition Government that has had to take drastic steps to address the national deficit.

"These are tough times, I admit and it is testing the loyalty of members of the Group. We have always accepted we run a minority administration. It will not change the situation significantly."
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Keith Brookes, Conservative, who now has the greatest number of councillors said:
"The situation will remain on the decency of the leaders of the other two groups. It will be up to them to see if we have some control or some part of control because we clearly deserve it.

"We had around 21,000 votes at the last elections and the Liberals got around 17,000. That should show the public that we should be the controlling group.

"But if we tried to force an election, that would prove expensive."

New 'Green Living' Homes in Bardney

An exciting opportunity to acquire new 'green' properties will be available this month.

The properties, off Wragby Road in Bardney, have solar panels already installed and are built by the Kier Partnership Homes division of the Kier Group in partnership with West Lindsey District Council and Acis Group.

This new development, known as Saxonwood, is offering 17 two and three bedroom houses for social rent and two two-bedroom houses on a rent to homebuy basis.

Housing, Renewal and Community Safety Service Manager Grant Lockett said:
"The properties are due to be completed and ready to move into by the end of March and will be managed Acis, a Registered Housing Provider.

"This is good news for the local people of Bardney, and it will help them to get a home and also get a start on the property ladder."
To qualify for one of these homes you need to be registered on the West Lindsey Housing Register and have a local connection to Bardney.

A local connection means you were either born in Bardney or you are a permanent resident now. If you used to live there but had to move away because of the lack of affordable housing or you are employed in Bardney, also qualifies you. If you live or have lived in one of the villages next to or close to Bardney, may also count.

For more details and information on how to register contact the Home Options Team at West Lindsey District Council on 01427 676676.

The comfortable and spacious properties comprise of an entrance hall, cloakroom, lounge, spacious kitchen/diner, useful storage, two or three bedrooms, family bathroom and an enclosed rear garden with shed.

The scheme was funded by a Social Housing Grant from the Homes and Communities Agency, a Government funding body for Registered Housing Providers (RHP) that supports investment; regeneration and the development of good urban and rural social housing.