Monday, 30 January 2012

Man Injured in Sudbrooke Crash

A man from Lincoln is seriously injured after his black Peugeot 308 crashed on the A158 Wragby Road in Sudbrooke on Sunday, 29th January 2012.

Police say there were no other vehicles involved in the crash, which took place at 4.20am. The man, whose age is not yet confirmed, was initially taken to Lincoln County Hospital suffering from a head injury. It is understood he was later transferred to a hospital in Sheffield. There were no other occupants in his vehicle.

The A158 Wragby Road was closed until 8.30am. Police are appealing for any witnesses who saw the collision or the Peugeot being driven prior to the incident. Anyone with information should contact the Collision Witness Hotline on 01522 558855.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Local Conservatives Welcome Rupert Matthews

Rupert Matthews, who has been part of the Roger Helmer succession sage, was welcomed yesterday to a supper club event hosted by the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association.

Mr. Matthews revealed the shock he had when he opened his front door to discover the senior Political Correspondent from Channel 4 News, Michael Crick, with a film crew, on his door step earlier in the week. Although one diner commented:
"It just shows what a slow news day it was; probably explains why I haven't watched Channel 4 News in three or four years."
Despite having written a number of books about the paranormal Mr. Matthews was unable to divine the future and predict if he would succeed Roger Helmer any time soon. Instead Mr. Matthews concentrated his comments, to his audience, on the European Union's history, providing a fascinating insight into the historical perspectives that are driving the European Project forward.

Mr. Matthews is an engaging public speaker who entertained those present with wit, knowledge and charm.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Further Pressure on Party Chairman to Confirm MEPs Successor

Rupert Matthews and Giles McNeill
campaigning in Saxilby
Today's Daily Mail has further revelations about the Roger Helmer's succession, which is causing a headache for the Conservative Party, both across the East Midlands and at Conservative Party Headquarters, for the Party Chairman, Baroness Warsi.

Roger's robust statement last week, stated his clear position: Rupert Matthews has the legitimate claim to be his successor. Now, Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, Conservative (Whitney), has been dragged into the row. The paper reports that more than 20 Members of Parliament have apparently written to the Prime Minister requesting he step in and confirm Mr. Matthew' appointment.

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Conservative (Daventry), who served as an MEP for the East Midlands up to the 2009 European elections, is reported as saying:
"Sayeda Warsi may feel she can just line somebody up, but this is going to make a lot of people very angry."
The paper reports that a senior source denied Baroness Warsi was trying to prevent Mr. Matthews becoming the East Midlands next Euro-Parliamentarian.

Mr. Matthews will address local Conservative at a Supper Club event in the Gainsborough Constituency on Friday evening.


Mr. Michael Crick presented a package on Channel 4 News about this issue. You can watch it here. Whilst somewhat overplaying the more colourful parts of Mr. Matthews' background, he successfully points out the damage that could be done to the relationship between the Conservative Party across the East Midlands and the Party Chairman. The most interesting quote is attributed to a Minister familiar with Mr. Matthews:
"I don't think you can change the rules mid-match."

Monday, 23 January 2012

Are Local Liberal Democrats Suffering From Schizophrenia?

It was not all that long ago that Cllr. Ray Sellars, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham & Saxilby Division) was taking credit for saving Linelands from closure. 'Threat to home lifted by people who really care' read the headline in a Lib Dem leaflet.
"Thanks go not just to the Lib Dem Group but also to the many dedicated people who protested loudly at the threatened closure of an excellent care facility with dedicated staff and volunteers."
No one can dispute that those who work at Linelands are some very dedicated individuals, but suggesting that the Lib Dems can take credit was ridiculous. Even as the leaflet landed on doormats in Nettleham, the Council had been clear that the reprieve was only temporary until suitable alternative provision was available.

The leaflet continued:
"Liberal Democrats are concerned, not only about Government cut-backs, but also charges on our national us a bleak financial outlook." 
This would presumably be the same Government that has five Liberal Democrats within the Cabinet, including the Chief Secretary to the Treasury?  The article by Cllr. Sellars concludes:
"...remember that Lib Dem common sense brough vital balance to the spending review: Personal tax allowance is up by £1,000 while banks must pay a new levy."
So the Liberal Democrats are in government after all.

 'West Lindsey Focus' delivered
prior to the 2010 General Election
Let us not forget that it was of course Cllr. Reg Shore, Liberal Democrat (Stow Ward), the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on West Lindsey District Council, who surprised many, shortly before local elections last year, with comments made to the Lincolnshire Echo. Cllr. Shore was quoted as saying:
"I don't agree with Nick. I never have and that's based on the issue of student fees."
The disclosure that Cllr. Shore does not and has not ever supported Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader is somewhat at odds with the facts. Cllr. Shore having appeared in election literature IN 2010 with Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for the Gainsborough Constituency, Cllr. Pat O'Conner, and the Deputy Prime Minister. 

But the local Liberal Democrats are in such trouble that on their website (here) they are pleased to declare that their 'Best Headline of 2011' was 'Liberals in Poll Shock' from the Gainsborough Standard in the 12th May 2011 edition following the local elections. Taking some comfort in the fact they lost three seats on West Lindsey District Council but took twelve seats on Gainsborough Town Council, meaning they could form an administration. Considering that people often dislike the increasing professionalisation of politics, this is not something to be proud of. It seems unlikely that anyone would think that loosing three seats on the district council (two in Gainsborough) and gaining the town council was really a success in the light that the Liberal Democrats were the only people to organise - squeezing out more independent candidates. It would be like David Cameron declaring at the next General Election. 'I'm glad I've lost 20 MPs, but I can take solice that we now have six councillors on Hull City Council.'

Perhaps the local Conservatives take pleasure in the fact that there best headline of 2011 was: Government Minister Eric Pickles in Visit to West Lindsey from the Lincolnshire Echo. A real coup that a Secretary of State would visit an otherwise perfectly safe Conservative seat.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Edward Leigh MP Believes Euthanasia Is An 'Encouraged Exit'

Local Parliamentarian, Edward Leigh MP, has said he believes any moves to introduce euthanasia would result in an 'encouraged exit.'

The Conservative MP has rejected calls for assisted dying, or euthanasia, to be introduced for the sick and elderly during a debate on care for the dying. Mr. Leigh said:
"There is no doubt in my mind that, if we allow assisted dying, it will eventually become encouraged exit. 
"One of the witnesses to the Falconer inquiry said: 'I think we can only go for terminal illness at the moment, so this doesn't actually apply to the people who are probably about to go into care homes. But, you know, baby steps'. That is a chilling statement. 
"To us, this is a moral issue. We believe that the body is simply the mirror of the soul, and however old, crippled or useless someone might seem to society – our society seems to be dominated by the worship of youth and beauty – they are of immense value to society and should be sustained by society to the very end of their lives."

Roger Helmer MEP Speaks Out On Attempted Resignation

Roger Helmer MEP for the East Midlands Regin writes: In October, I announced my intention to resign from the European Parliament on December 31. I was asked by our delegation leader Martin Callanan to postpone that date to January 20 to cover some key votes in Strasbourg in January, which I agreed to do. However, I have not yet signed the Parliament’s formal deed of resignation. I made it clear at the time that a key reason for my decision was my disillusionment with a wide range of Conservative policies - a view which has been strongly reinforced by David Cameron’s vocal backing for further fiscal integration in the EU.

I announced my resignation in the confident expectation (shared by just about everyone) that I would be replaced by the next-in-line on the 2009 Conservative East Midlands list, Rupert Matthews. Since the introduction of the regional list system of voting, there have been nine mid-term vacancies for UK MEPs, and on every occasion the seat has gone to the next available name on the list. It has now emerged, however, that the Party has reservations over the succession.

After the 2010 General Election, a large number of very good people, including Rupert, were taken off the Westminster candidates list. Because he is not currently on that list, the Party has referred his case to the Candidates’ Committee, which will require him to undergo a candidate panel. This is entirely wrong-headed. The Candidates’ Committee exists to pre-qualify names for future elections. It cannot retrospectively disqualify names from previous elections. Rupert was on the list at the relevant time, 2008. He was duly selected under party rules, in a postal ballot by around three and a half thousand East Midlands Conservative Party members, as second on the list (subsequently moved to third under the positive discrimination process). He was then confirmed as next-in-line in the national euro elections of 2009. He has earned his place, he has a democratic mandate. It is outrageous that the Party should be minded to set aside the result of a national election, and many East Midlands Conservatives are very angry indeed.

The Party needs to issue a certificate in respect of such an appointment, and believes it can withhold the certificate in this case. But the Party’s right to withhold the certificate must be exercised fairly, proportionately and transparently. The certificate is intended to enable the Party to refuse someone who has (for example) been convicted of a serious offence, or who has left the Party. But where no such impediment exists, withholding the certificate would be arbitrary and perverse. I have made it clear that I will not sign the formal resignation papers until the position is clarified and Rupert is confirmed. I was happy to resign in favour of the next-in-line in the normal way, but I am not prepared to stand aside for some A-List Cameron protégée from St. John’s Wood.

However the Party says it will not call the panel and make the decision until I do resign. So we have a Mexican stand-off. I think that both I and Rupert (and our respective families) are entitled to some certainty and resolution on the issue. Accordingly I have indicated to the Party Chairman that if the situation is not resolved within a few weeks, I shall withdraw my offer to resign. I am quite prepared, if necessary, to stay in place for the remaining two and a half years of my mandate until 2014.

I have always argued that when a Conservative MEP is out of sympathy with Party policy, and unable to defend it, he should resign to make way for another Conservative. I believe that that is the decent and honourable thing to do, and I have sought to do it, but my intention has been frustrated by the Party’s reprehensible prevarication. I have also made it clear to the Party Chairman that I believe that my obligations on this point have been fully and finally discharged by my offer, made in good faith, to resign. Accordingly, if I am obliged to stay in place until 2014, I shall feel no further sense of obligation or responsibility to the Party.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Local MP Wants State Schools to Replicate Private Schools

Advice to improve schools by 'replicating what goes on in the independent sector', including selection, is 'entirely in line' with the Government's intentions, a minister has said.

Speaking at Education Questions in the Commons, Edward Leigh, MP, Conservative (Gainsborough Constituency), said independent schools had many things to teach about boosting standards. Mr. Leigh asked:
"Will you agree with me the real way to improve standards in the state sector is to replicate what goes on in the independent sector?
"Mainly to allow headteachers to hire and fire teachers, to select their own curriculum and to select and de-select pupils."
John Hayes MP, Conservative (South Holland & the Deepings), Minister of State for Further Educations, Skills and Life Long Learning, who attended a dinner in the Gainsborough Constituency in the summer of 2011, replied:
"What we seek is a system driven by demand, the choices of pupils, helped to make informed judgments by the information they are given, businesses driving the skills system and headteachers and college principals free to respond to local needs.
"That is precisely our mantra, entirely in line with your intentions and ambitions."

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Councillor Seeks to Reassure Over Linelands Closure

People using three county care homes are being reassured that a range of other high-quality, local options are now available - with potential new care facilities also announced today.

The Lincolnshire County Council pledge comes as it has now decided on the closure timescales for its homes in Nettleham, Sleaford and Grantham. As it works towards modernising and personalising care provision in Lincolnshire, the authority’s Executive decided last July that the homes would close, but only when it was satisfied that suitable alternative provision was available.

In addition, the council has also revealed today that it is in the early stages of work towards new housing for the over 55’s in Nettleham and a potential dementia centre in Grantham.

Councillor Graham Marsh, Conservative (Alford & Sutton Division), Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said:

"With a rapidly growing elderly population, providing the best possible care for our residents is an absolute priority for the council. By closing three outdated and expensive homes and replacing them with access to an improved menu of care options, we hope residents can see how we’re meeting this priority.

"We promised to only close the remaining three homes when we were confident that alternatives were available; we’ve worked very hard to identify and create those alternatives by stimulating the market and high-quality choice, with sufficient vacancies and specialisms, now exists in each area.

"What’s more, we’re striving to add to this further through the creation of new, extra care housing and dementia centres, whilst £9.1m of ‘reablement’ funding with the NHS will also be invested in support services and technologies."
The county council is working with interested parties including Longhurst Group and West Lindsey District Council to develop proposals for a new-build housing-with-care facility to meet community needs in the Linelands area. The authority is also working with The Orders of St. John Care Trust towards their proposed new care home at Springfield Road, Grantham, which is expected to receive planning consent shortly with construction likely to commence during 2012.

Linelands in Nettleham, Bonner House in Sleaford and Grantham’s Harrison House are now working towards closure by the end of May. All staff are being supported and the county council is assisting those who are looking to enter the market as private providers themselves.

Cllr Marsh added:

"There will very understandably be concerns among carers and people who use the homes about the disruption and change, but we’ll help them every step of the way to make it as smooth a transition as possible. Once these have happened, we’re confident that the future for both current and future users of care services in Lincolnshire will be much improved."
Carers and the people currently using the three homes will now be invited to a series of marketplace events to help them find the best solutions for them, including respite and intermediate care and other needs. Information packs will also be sent to the service users and each of the homes, with local providers also visiting the homes to present the range of services they offer and the county council will offer all support possible.

Linelands Expected to Close in May

Linelands Care Home in Nettleham is set to close by the end of May, with alternative care found for the forty people currently using the centre.

Lincolnshire County Council estimates savings of £2.5 million by the end of 2013 from the closure of eight care homes run by the authority across the county.  Linelands, along with Bonner House in Sleaford and Harrison House in Grantham, is part of the second wave of care home closures by the council.

Linelands has twelve respite beds, fifteen intermediate care beds and forty-six day care places, catering for people with dementia and with high dependancy needs.

The move to close the centre is in line with previous Labour government's scheme to transfer care service users onto personal budgets. The County Council says it expects to be able to implement personal budget with Linelands service users by the end of May.

The first wave of care home closures included Park View in Lincoln, The Cedars in Gainsborough, Ingelow Manor in Boston, Halmer Grange in Spalding and Crowtree House in Louth.

Interim Assistant Director of Adult Social Care Commissioning, Mr. Terry Hawkins, explained that if sufficient replacement care is not found for residents, Linelands would stay open later than May.

"After closing the five homes last year ahead of schedule, we feel we can safely provide the residents with independent care and care brokerage support within three months, but Linelands will not close before."
Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr. Graham Marsh, Conservative (Alford & Sutton Division), assured sufficient alternative choices for care are in place.
"We’ve worked hard to identify and create those alternatives by stimulating the market and high-quality choice, with sufficient vacancies and specialism, now exists in each area."
The council is also exploring alternative uses for the Linelands site, such as a dementia hub alongside adjacent supported living accommodation, Church View.

The latest closures will bring the total adult social care job losses to three hundred and fifteen countywide, including at the two Lincoln sites, Swallow Lodge and Linelands. Staff has been offered training to find other care jobs, as well as support to set up their own businesses to offer services to those using personal allowances.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Message

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, writes:
"Firstly let me begin with wishing you a Happy New Year.
"Recent years have been tough; tough on all of us. It is my hope that 2012 will be the year we turn the corner and get back to something like ‘business-as-usual’; even if it is somewhat anaemic.
"There is plenty to look forward to: I’m sure our community will rally together for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, already events are being planned, and I suspect in my own street we will be having a street party. The Olympic touch will pass through West Lindsey at Saxilby on its way to London 2012 games. I feel there is a lot to be optimistic about.

"In 2011 I began a four-year term as a Governor of Nettleham Infants School, already I have had a hand in making changes for the better, new provision of hot meals in the school should greatly improve the quality and dining experience of local children – gone are the plastic trays and real crockery and cutlery will be the order of the day. I expect there to be big changes in the school in 2012 and beyond.

"Serving on Nettleham Parish Council, I continue with my calls to keep local taxes low. It is my understanding that the Parish Council will be taking an extra £3.05 in tax from the average Band D property in 2012; pushing the Parish Council’s component up to £88.21 for the average household, I am also saddened that the lowest paying band, Band A, will this year pass the level the average Band D were paying when I joined the Parish Council in 2006. The increase in the tax households are pay to the Parish Council represents a massive 52.4% since 2006. I am convinced that once again Nettleham Parish Council will be out of step with other local authorities – the district & county councils – who will keep their portions of the Council Tax frozen. There are of course reasons why they can do this, support form the Conservative-led coalition government means that an increase of 2.5% or less is absorbed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Nettleham Parish Council can not qualify for this funding; nevertheless the increase is greater than 2.5%. In a poll conducted on this blog, 58% of respondents said that raising the Parish Council’s portion of the council tax was the wrong decision.

"As Chairman of the Mulsanne Park Users Committee I have watched with interest, over the boundary hedge, in recent months, the earthworks being undertaken at the new Lodge Lane home of Lincoln Rugby Club. The earthworks appear complete and seed will no doubt be planted in the spring.

"Politically, with the change at West Lindsey District Council to elections every four years, I was expecting 2012 to be a quieter year. However, across the county, we will all be back to polling stations on Thursday, 15th November to elect Lincolnshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner. Coming from a family of Policemen – father, grandfather, great-grandfather – I was surprised by this in the Conservative Party’s 2010 manifesto. I think there are potentially great benefits to having a directly elected person responsible for policing locally – Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson (the Mayors of London) have to some extent proved this, but the supporting role of interrogative committees, consisting solely of councillors from local authorities, seems a regressive step, back to the post-war era of the 1950s.
"I wish each and all health, prosperity and happiness for the coming year."