Sunday, 25 March 2012

GE2015: Lincoln's Labour Party Select General Election Candidate

Lincoln Constituency Labour Party have held a closed primary and selected their candidate for the next General Election.

Members of the party have selected Cllr. Ms Lucy Rigby, Labour (Halloway Ward (Islington Council) to be their candidate. Cllr. Ms Rigby was first elected to her local council in 2010, and is reported to have helped campaign for Labour candidates in the Lincoln City Council elections last year, which saw the authority return to Labour control. She is a lawyer by profession, with experience in Private Practice and the Office of Fair Trading as well as having worked at the Hague and practised EU competition law in Brussels.

Criticising the selection, one local activist, Mr. Edward Mayers, on the Labour List website, said:
"It would have been a much easier sell for Labour to select a local candidate in my opinion.
Lincoln's previous Labour MP, Ms Gillian Merron (1997-2010), had a background as a local government officer, and as a UNISON and NUPE trade union official, before becoming involved at a senior level with the Labour Party's 1992 general election campaign.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Decision Day: Nettleham Infants School Governors to Discuss Academy Status

The Governor's of Nettleham Infants' School, on All Saints Lane, will today consider if they should pursue moving to Academy Status.

An academy is a school that is directly funded by central government (specifically, the Department for Education) and independent of control by local government in England. An academy may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind. They must meet the National Curriculum core subject requirements and are subject to inspection by Ofsted.

Academies are established in a way that is intended to be 'creative' and 'innovative' in order to give them the freedoms considered necessary to deal with the long-term issues they are intended to solve. 

In terms of their governance, academies are established as companies limited by guarantee with a governing body that acts as a Trust. The governors also act as the Trust's Board of Directors (they are legally, but not financially, accountable for the operation of the academy). The Trust serves as the legal entity which the school is part of, and the governing body oversees the running of the school (although the day to day management of the school is, as in most schools, conducted by the principal and their senior management team, who are appointed by the sponsor).

Should the governing body decide to pursue Academy status then a consultation will begin with parents and the wider, local community to canvass their views. This will finish on Saturday, 21st April 2012.

The consultation will now take place between Tuesday, 17th April and conclude on Friday, 25th May.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Nettleham Parish Council Wants Answers On Police Custody Suite

Mulsanne Park Pavilion was packed with nearly one hundred local residents from Nettleham this evening; for what was widely expected to be a routine meeting. However, events took a dramtic turn over the weekend when Mrs. Sue Turnbull, of Washdyke Lane, instigated a campaign to raise awareness, that the plans for a new operational facility, at the Police Headquarters on Deepdale Lane, were due to be discussed.

For the multitude who attended their were audible gasps when they were informed that they would need to sit through over an hour of discussion between the Parish Council and Mrs. Manjeet Gill and Mr. Mark Sturgess, Chief Executive and Director of Planning at West Lindsey District Councl respectively. Undeterred, shortly before a quarter to eight, the Chairman, Cllr. Terry Williams, moved the item up the agenda to take as the next item; and discussion began.

A number of speakers from the floor put questions to Inspector Stubbs, who was representing Lincolnshire Police. He wanted to stress that talk of a massive custody suite was misguided; that in fact what was being considered was a replacement facility to the West Parade Police Station in Lincoln.

Parish Councillors sought answers from Insp. Stubbs. After nearly an hour of discussion, questions and answers Cllr. Giles McNeill proposed that a suitable letter be drafted to the Deputy Chief Constable asking for a dialogue to commence with the Parish Council. Further that they arrange an Exhibition to explain the plans to local residents and make themselves available to attend a Public Meeting, convened by the Parish Council. This was seconded by Cllr. Mike Spencer and unanimously agreed. Cllr. McNeill said, following the meeting:
"Residents of Nettleham are demanding answers, and the Parish Council has said it will facilitate this. This is such an important issue that we must get the fact about what is proposed. It was really good to see so many residents of the village turn out and demonstrate their strong feeling. Now we absolutely must act, and act quickly, to ensure that people get the information want and deserve."
Details of a facebook page that has been set up as a focus for the campaign can be found here:

Custody Suite Plans Likely To Cause Controversy at Parish Council Meeting

Following on from Lincolnshire Police's announcement about the possibility of establishing a new custody suite at the Nettleham Headquarters on Deepdale Lane local campaigners have begun the process of making their voices heard loudly and clearly.

The message they want to send to Mr. Barry Young, the Chairman of Lincolnshire Police Authority is 'No'.

In a letter to Parish Councillors Mr. Young says:
"[T]he media had been told in general terms that G4S intended to build a new operational deployment base incorporating a state-of-the-art custody suite somewhere in the county.  No location was given. During interviews following the contract signing, reference was made to the building being constructed, subject to consultation and planning permission, on the Headquarters site at Nettleham 
"The important point here is consultation.  It was not our initention to spring any surprises on our neighbours, and this letter is to assure you and your fellow councillors that Nettleham Parish Council will be an important part of the consultation process. We like to think we have always been good neighbours, and we can assure you that we will do all we can to ensure this remains the case."
However, in an unsigned letter, posted on a number of notice boards in the village and delivered to a number of homes for circulation, states that:
"When criminals are released from the new Nettleham cell block where Do [sic] YOU think they will go? They will be released into the village and can look for places to burgle to raise funds for the drink or drug habit many of them have, or try to take cars to get back to where they have come from."
There is properly a lot of concern about this proposal, regardless of how embryonic it may be. Tonight's Nettleham Parish Council Meeting is expected to seethe with resentment.

Stagecoach Should Explain Decision to Reduce Bus Services

Edward Leigh MP has called on Stagecoach Lincolnshire to explain to local people the company’s decision to cut services along the number 3 route from Lincoln to Grimsby, which serves Nettleham, Dunholme and Welton.

Our local Member of Parliament, has responded to the significant change to the Number 3 service from Monday 2 April 2012. Which will include the loss of an hourly connecting bus service between the south east and north east of the Gainsborough Constituency during the daytime. Through journeys will now end during the middle part of the day with the last through departures from Lincoln and Grimby at 8:40am and not resuming until 1:40pm.

Stagecoach have admitted that they are eliminating less economical services because of the Department of Transport’s twenty percent reduction in the Bus Service Operators Grant, equivalent to an additional 39p to the cost of a gallon of diesel. But talk of local authority intervention might be overly optimistic, given the £1.3m savings to the county transport budget and the need to find £125m in savings to put the County Council budget on an even keel. Edward Leigh said:
"I am relieved that the cut to the Number 3 service won’t be as deep as originally proposed, but it is still regretful that those who will need to travel outside the peak period will have their options severely curtailed. 
"In rural parts of the country such as ours, providing connections by regular public transport is challenging, but important. I’m not convinced Stagecoach have made a proper case for curtailing the Number 3 service. This follows from their cuts to Sunday and Bank Holiday services from last year.
"This situation is the responsibility of the bus company, and I hope they find more imaginative ways of responding to public demand. They can’t solve their problems simply by demanding subsidies from taxpayers who are hard-pressed to make end’s meet already. All this underlines the overriding importance of cutting the vast deficit we have inherited from the previous government."

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Conservative Party Chairman Welcomed to Lincolnshire

Conservatives across Lincolnshire will be welcoming the Conservative Party Chairman, Baroness Warsi, to a reception this evening.

Cllr. Mrs. Rachel Hubbard, Conservative (Lincoln Bracebridge Division), who is the County Chairman will welcome Baroness Warsi with representatives of the constituencies of the Lincolnshire area, which includes both North and North East Lincolnshire as well as the County of Lincolnshire.

The visit comes swiftly, following the defection of Roger Helmer MEP to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which followed an acrimonious period between Mr. Helmer and Baroness Warsi, waged publicly in the press, over his resignation and the succession of Rupert Matthews. The Chairman can undoubtedly expect the forthright views of local activists to be expressed to her this evening. At the 1922 Committee, of Conservative Members of Parliament, last week it is reported that Baroness Warsi received a hostile reception - and not just from the usual suspects.

It is believed that the Party Chairman will present an award to the Lincolnshire Conservative Policy Forum for the response to the NHS policy paper circulated in 2011.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Plans To Fell Trees Axed - For The Moment

Nettleham Parish Council has reversed its plans to fell two willow trees on the bank of the Beck, on Watermill Lane, in Nettleham, following a public outcry at the decision.

Work had been ordered to fell the trees, but strong opposition emerged late last night after residents became aware of the plans.

Cllr. Giles McNeill urged colleagues last night 'to hold off for a week and allow some discussion at Monday night's Property Committee Meeting.'

Meanwhile Cllr. John Hill, who takes the lead on trees within the village on behalf of the Parish Council, said, via e-mail:
"Tonight I have been contacted by residents in the Watermill Lane area and others about the proposed felling of these trees. As a result of those discussions and representations I have cancelled the work planned for this Saturday. 
"The Property Committee can review the original decision on Monday night. I expect some residents to be present and put their points of views. We can then decide the way ahead and how we wish to respond to their anxieties."
Residents will have an opportunity to put forward their views at the Parish Council's Property Committee Meeting on Monday 12 March 2012 at 7:30pm at the Pavilion at Mulsanne Park.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Local Council's Budget Welcomed

Local residents will have warmly welcomed news from the Conservative-led district authority that Council Tax will be frozen for the second year running.

At the March meeting of the Council, on Monday, 5th March 2012, Leader, Cllr. Burt Keimach, Conservative (Market Rasen Ward), introduced the Conservative Group's Budget which received unanimous approval from all parties.

Central government is making big changes to the way local authorities are funded and this is having a big impact on local councils. This year alone has seen a cut of 24.7% in the money the authority receive from the government. Setting the current financial picture for fellow councillors, Cllr. Keimach said:
"This year we face new problems in the form of further government cuts that will stretch councils across the nation to meet their statutory obligations.  This is not too difficult to understand because the coalition government has vowed to eliminate the structural budget deficit by 2015 and to radically reform the way public services and benefits are provided. 
"This near catastrophe did not materialise by itself.  There were many national and international factors that played their nefarious parts.  But when it struck us here in the UK the Labour government of the day did not choose a corrective course.  Instead they kept up their near suicidal spending regime, to the extent that now we have a huge deficit that exceeds £120m per day on the interest charges alone."
Nevertheless West Lindsey is in good shape to weather the current storm. The authority have no debts. Have made no plans to borrow. There have been no redundancies, and no-one foresees any in the immediate future.

Monday, 5 March 2012

West Lindsey Budget 2012

Conservative Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr. Burt Keimach, Conservative (Market Rasen Ward), introduced the proposed budget:
"Just a year ago we gathered in the Chamber to approve a budget in the wake of the Comprehensive spending review – a government measure that daunted us all with its shock and awe at the extent of the cuts imposed. 
"I shall not do more now than remind councillors of the great uncertainty we faced, worried and concerned as we were about our ability to deliver services and embark on projects across the District. 
"This year we face new problems in the form of further government cuts that will stretch councils across the nation to meet their statutory obligations. This is not too difficult to understand because the coalition government has vowed to eliminate the structural budget deficit by 2015 and to radically reform the way public services and benefits are provided.

Electric Night at Launch of City's New Hotel, Bar & Restaurant

It was an event not to be missed, a rare moment of glamour in a city, that sadly, all too often, lacks pizazz. The Hilton Doubletree overlooking the Brayford had it's official launch party on Friday night.  

© 2012 Adam Rhoades Photography
The new venture, which opened its doors at the tail-end of last year, has been causing quite a stir on Lincoln's increasingly impressive restaurant and bar scene. Boasting a wide selection of champagnes (at notable reasonable prices), wines and an excellent selection of Cocktails, expertly mixed by well-trained staff, the bar is made all the more desirable by it's impressive location on the fifth floor of the hotel, overlooking the Brayford marina and university campus. Ingeniously accessed via an express elevator from the ground floor, one feels transported to a metropolis like London or New York. 

Through the double doors and you enter the restaurant. Which has a truly magnificent view up to the Cathedral and Castle.  As great as the view is it is the food which excels. The restaurant matching Reform, at the Castle Hotel and The Jews House on the Strait is superb.

© 2012 Adam Rhoades Photography
Head Chef, Mr. Alec Maxfield, has previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, and his team can be seen cooking in the kitchen through a large viewing gallery. Restaurant Manager, Mr. Daniel Ralley, said:
“Since we opened, we've received some fantastic feedback from visitors who’ve been blown away by Alec’s innovative style of cooking. 
“Even the ride up to the fifth floor in the express panoramic glass elevator is a unique and memorable experience and gives people a taste of what we have to offer. It’s certainly been a talking point among guests!” 
In these times of austerity the Electric Bar & Restaurant is the place to head during the week. With a introductory menu reasonably priced at £20 per head, for three courses including half a bottle of house wine (and usually including a couple of amuse boosh), such a package is genuinely hard to resist. Mr. Alec Maxfield said:
“Our aim has always been to raise the bar for the quality of service and provision in Lincoln and we’ve done that literally by locating The Electric Bar & Restaurant on the top floor of the hotel.”  
© 2012 Adam Rhoades Photography
The evening was certainly not without glamour. Mr. Gethin Jones, former Blue Peter presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star, attended the event and along with the other local business owners held a toast for the new venue. 

Upon arrival, the strictly by invite only, guests were welcomed onto the red carpet surrounded by a number of glamorous sports cars and offered a glass of champagne. An array of entertainments, including: Dancers, Musicians and Magicians provided amusements throughout the evening  and an open bar, and a seemingly endless stream of delicious morsels emerging from the kitchen help to keep the party going late into the night.

The Electric Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Doubletree has firmly arrived in Lincoln and promises a bright experience for its patrons.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Roger Helmer's Defection: Man Overboard

Giles McNeill writes:

Anyone who knows Roger Helmer, knows that Roger was always firmly on the right-wing of the Conservative Party.  Roger’s view was clear on the European Union: Britian would be better off out.

When Roger was the guest speaker at the Nettleham & District Conservatives Annual Branch Dinner in 2008 he was preparing for re-election as a Conservative candidate in elections in 2009. We talked together for some time, even getting into the intricacies of the D'Hont Method used for the Election of European Parliamentarians from Britain and associated territories - which I found absolutely fascinating, and imagine would render most people bored senseless. Roger has a degree in Mathematics and so the number crunching may have appealed on an intellectual level if not as a satisfactory way of election individuals.

The saga of Roger’s resignation, which has led to his defection to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), began last year when he indicated he wanted to resign to give his successor a chance to be run-in before the European Parliamentary Election scheduled for 2014.  As Roger writes, in an open letter to Conservative Party Members:
Giles McNeill (Left) with Roger Helmer
(Right), October 2008
“I have always argued that a parliamentarian who finds himself no longer able to support the Party should stand aside in favour of another Conservative, and I have roundly criticised former colleagues who failed to do so, like Bill Newton Dunn and Edward McMillan Scott.  But in this case, as you will be aware, I sought in good faith to do the honourable thing, and to resign in favour of the next-in-line Conservative, Rupert Matthews.  Indeed in October I announced my intention to resign at the end of 2011.  But that plan was frustrated by the deliberate obstinacy and recalcitrance of the Party Chairman.
“I wrote to Baroness Warsi in early January saying that I would not resign without a clear undertaking on the succession issue.  I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received.  In these circumstances I believe that I have fulfilled my obligation to the Party, so far as I am able, and I therefore withdraw my offer to resign.   I had made it clear to Baroness Warsi that I would not allow the stand-off to continue indefinitely, so I will now plan to serve out my current term until 2014.  
“By seeking to do what I took to be the decent thing, and offering to stand aside in favour of another Conservative, I hope at least that I shall retain the respect of Party members in the region.  They have selected and reselected me three times over the years, and I know that for the most part their views are closer to my own than to those of the Party leadership.”

Statement by Rupert Matthews on the Defection of Roger Helmer MEP to UKIP

After Roger Helmer's announcement last October that he was to retire as an MEP his successor was to be Rupert Matthews. Following Roger Helmer's new announcement that he is to defect to UKIP instead this will not now happen.

Rupert Matthews said:
"I am shocked and disappointed at Roger Helmer’s decision to betray his public promises to the people of the East Midlands and his private promises to his colleagues. 
"Since Roger announced that he was standing down as the MEP, many people in the East Midlands have spent a considerable amount of time and effort in preparing for Roger’s retirement, my taking his place in Brussels and the unavoidable upheavals that this would have entailed. I myself was looking forward very much to representing the people of the East Midlands and the Conservative Party in the European Parliament. It is unfortunate that all this time and effort has been rendered useless by Roger’s actions.  
"I wish to make it clear that I have no intention of following Roger to UKIP and that I will continue to serve the Conservative Party as loyally as I have in the 28 years since I joined the party. I will be working hard to ensure the return of Conservative candidates in the local elections in May and at the next European Election in 2014."

Roger Helmer MEP Defects to UKIP

Roger Helmer MEP (Right) with the Leader of the United
Kingdom Independence Party, Nigel Farage MEP (Left)
Roger Helmer MEP has announced that he is leaving the Conservative Party and joining the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).  

Mr. Helmer has been an Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands region since 1999, having been re-elected in 2004 and again in 2009.  He has made his concerns over Conservative policy very public in recent months.  He made his announcement at UKIP’s Spring Conference in Skegness. Commenting on his decision, Mr. Helmer said:
“The fact is that UKIP represents the values and convictions of East Midlands Conservatives much better than Cameron’s Tory Party does.  I believe I can do a better job representing those views and interests as a member of UKIP than I could in the Tory Party.  The European project is collapsing before our eyes, yet the three main parties remain wedded to the Brussels dream.  UKIP is the only party which is ahead of the curve on this issue, and on other issues as well”.
In a letter to his former colleagues in the Conservative Party Mr. Helmer writes:

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Liberal Democrat Guilty of Fondling Breasts

Adrian Heath (left) with Cllr. Reg Shore (Right) at the
opening of a new Dentists' Surgery in West Lindsey

Update to 'Liberal Democrat Dentist Cleared of Five Sexual Assault Charges', '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'.

Dentist, Adrian Heath, has been kicked out of the profession by the General Dental Council following a week-long hearing in central London.

Mr. Heath, who was once a senior member of the Gainsborough Liberal Democrats, who won a by-election in March 2003 and joined colleagues on West Lindsey District Council, representing the Cherry Willingham Ward and was seen, by some, as a potential rival to Cllr. Reg Shore, and who was their Parliamentary candidate in the 2005 General Election, has been found guilty of having fondled the breasts of two patients.

Mr. Heath, who is now resident in Aspley, Nottinghamshire was cleared of sexual assault at a criminal trial in 2010, but a professional misconduct hearing decided the allegations were true after ruling his evidence ‘lacked credibility’.