Thursday, 24 May 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Nettleham Parish Council Object to New West Parade in Nettleham

Nettleham Parish Council, tonight, held over two hours of discussion and debate on a proposal, brought forward by Lincolnshire Police and G4S, to build a replacement to the West Parade Police Station, in Lincoln, at the force's Headquarters site on Deepdale Lane, Nettleham, with a firm resolution to oppose the current plans.

At a packed meeting of over 200 residents at Nettleham Village Hall, Brookfield Avenue the Parish Council welcomed Cllr. Barry Young, Conservative (Sleaford Rural South Division), Chairman of Lincolnshire Police Authority, Chief Constable Neil Rhodes, together with Mrs. Judith Hogan, Head of Strategic Development (Lincolnshire Police), Chief Inspector Steve Taylor, Super Intendant Paul Gibson and Mr. Jerry Mayor from G4S - the private company involved in delivering £200m of services to Lincolnshire Police over the next decade.

All twelve Parish Councillors were in attendance. At the beginning of the meeting, so that, subsequently, it would be possible for anyone to know how the Parish Councillors voted, Cllr. Giles McNeill called for all votes taken to be recorded votes, under Schedule 12 Section 40 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Proceedings began with a presentation by Cllr. Young and Chief Constable Rhodes. Cllr. Young hightlighted that this was not a 'done deal' and that they were very much at the beginning of the process. In difficult fiscal circumstance the police authority 'would rather invest in police officers and not in buildings'. Cllr. Young confirmed that the new facility would operate as the the main operational divisional headquarters for Lincoln and West Lindsey.

The Chief Constable made it clear that G4S would be providing only back room, support services, saying:
"Lincolnshire Police is run by the Police, not G4S"
Seeking to reassure the meeting the Chief Constable said:
"I choose my words carefully. This is not a done deal. We look forward to a sensible conversation with our neighbours. However, we will not discuss any other sites or commercially sensitive matters.
"I used to live on All Saints Lane, I still have a pint in the Black Horse Pub, This is our village too."
It became clear during the course of the discussion that the proposal was for a significantly more substantive facility than merely a custody suite with 30 cells, but in fact is a replacement for the majority of the West Parade  facility.

Following the presentation a question and answer session took place with residents and councillors participating, broadly the questions were hostile to the proposals and many went unresolved. Cllr. Hill made a substantial point, having been the chartered engineer, who in the 1970s, working for Lincolnshire Laboratories investigated the site and published a report that it was unsuitable for development for various reasons, primarily because the site is a formally uncontrolled public tip with unknown contaminants, possibly vehicles with varying depths.

A number of residents raised concerns over the release of those detained at the site, which, at the conclusion of the meeting, it was felt had not been sufficiently addressed by some councillors.

Cllr. McNeill raised concern about the plans were being done to tie the hands of the Police and Crime Commissioner, expected to be elected on Thursdsay, 15th November 2012. Cllr. Young informed the meeting that the Police Authority were conducting 'business as usual'.

Prior to the debate by the Parish Council, Cllr. Young and the Chief Constable left the meeting.

Each Parish Councillor commented on the outlined proposals. Cllr. Evans, having reviewed a considerable amount of the relevant planning documentation considered that the 'proposals fail on a number of levels, sustainability and edge of a settlement development' contrary to many established policies. Cllr. Siddall highlighted that this was not Nimbyism, it was an objection based on the depth of feeling in the village and the concern over the impact of the proposal, particularly the traffic on Deepdale Lane and the A46. Cllr. McNeill raised his objection, referrring fellow councillors to Planning Police Statement 23 Annex 2 (Contaminated Land) 

Cllr. Downs stated his view that  we should 'applaud the desire to improve facilities and minimise costs' but that as times move on, requirements alter. He believed that 'there are a lot of problems associated with this development and it really should be sited in a much more urban area'. Cllr. Hill made one of the most damning crticisms stating that:
"Others [developers] have been open, honest and frank. They have not answered the questions we wanted to know."
Cllr. Spencer concurred saying 'I think they are not being truthful'.

Cllr. Mrs. Clayton, the Vice-Chairman, stated
"Here we are again, finding ourselves up against another unwelcome intruder - and it's the police!
"This will turn them into the neighbours from hell. Not this. Not hear. Please Don't make us pay the price."
The Chairman of the Parish Council, Cllr. Williams, echoed the comments of his fellow councillors however he wanted to make mention that the Parish Council recognises the enormous task the Chief Constable has in policing the county. He said he was 'completely opposed to the current formulation of the proposal as previously outlined'.

The Chairman proposed, seconded by Cllr. McNeill and the Parish Council resolved that:
"The Parish Council request that Lincolnshire Police Authority defers any further action in relation to this Project until the new Police Commissioner has been appointed; 
"In any event, meaningful dialogue needs to be held with the Parish Council before any decision is taken to submit a planning apllication; and 
"In the meantime, the Parish Council is opposed to the current proposals as formulated by the Lincolnshire Police Authority."

Chief Constable’s Speech to Nettleham Parish Council Meeting

Text of the speech by Chief Constable Neil Rhodes to Nettleham Parish Council Meeting held on Thursday, 24th May 2012 at Nettleham Village Hall, Brookfield Avenue.

"Mr Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to the Parish Council and the residents of the village about the prospect of building an operational police station on our headquarters site here in Nettleham.

"I choose my words carefully, and say ‘prospect’ because for us this is not a done deal, but further development at the headquarters site is a strong option. We are very much here to listen, and look forward to a sensible and intelligent conversation with a community that in the past has always been strong supporters of the police.

"What we won’t be discussing in detail are alternative options we are or have considered, or commercially sensitive reports or costs. We are here to listen to your views on the viability and suitability of this site.

"So let me set out the issues for you as we see them. Lincoln police station, at West Parade, serves the city and the wider West Lindsey area, supplemented by a number of smaller stations, probably the largest being at Gainsborough. Officers working from there include roads policing teams and several other teams that serve the wider area – and yes, including 22 busy cells.

"The building is old, tired, expensive to run and needs a lot of money spending on it. It's far too big for us now and chunks of it stand empty. The location is poor. It's okay for town centre foot patrol, but vehicle access is really difficult - it's a really choked up spot. It's not a friendly place for the public.

"We need to separate out, the town centre team and cars and put them in a far more publicly friendly place, right in the heart of the town centre, preferably shared with other agencies, accessible to the public.

"We need all of the back office support, booking on and office facilities, interview teams, custody facilities, traffic teams etc to be in a good strategic location, within a modern, sustainable, economical building. We have explored alternatives. With a very tight budget you can understand why developing an existing police base, that's 60 seconds from the bypass and on the main A46 arterial road really seems to fit. A base that has a lot of land, that we own, and which is already connected to the police IT infrastructure we need.

"With any planning application there are many issues, the site, the appearance, traffic flows, changes of existing use. In this case the one consistent message we are hearing from residents focuses on the handling of prisoners and the potential release of prisoners on the edge of a beautiful, tranquil village that is a very low crime area indeed. Many of you came here just for that reason. I can understand those concerns and that they are genuinely held. You will get no accusation of NIMBYism from me.

"In addition, you have raised concerns with us in relation to the viability of a build in the preferred position on site, as it is the location of an old quarry, and also raised concerns about footpaths needing to be redirected. We are looking into both of those issues, but should either prove a real problem, this is a very large site and the building could be accommodated readily in an alternative location on it.

"When dealing with your concerns what I hope to do is try to offer some measure of reassurance, reaffirm we are listening and that this is not already decided.

"Of prisoners released, what is their motivation to visit and cause trouble in the local housing estate? Most just want to get home ASAP. Existing facilities service not only Lincoln but the whole of West Lindsey. We have a duty of care to people we arrest; we don't just turf them out miles from home, with no transport or means of getting back. Family and friends collect, solicitors help, interviewing officers returning to their area help. That's just business as usual for us. In addition, in this case, we have built in transport arrangements that will see prisoners taken and released back at Lincoln bus and rail stations where that is sensible and appropriate.

"I'm sure someone will point out that once you've finished your investigation and charged a person you have to bail and release them. You can't just keep them for another couple of hours until transport is available. Quite right. But if we think they are likely to cause problems and commit offences in the immediate area on release, that's grounds to detain or impose stringent bail conditions. The proportion of people, backed by their solicitor, insisting on immediate release, whose transport arrangements we are not happy with and who have the intention to offend immediately in the Nettleham village, well you work it out for yourself - it has to be very low indeed.

"Bail backs (people who are arrested and later have to return to a police station) that will be dealt with at HQ site, most will have driven there and will drive away. Many now will be dealt with offsite or by postal charging. BUT, transport back to Lincoln centre is there for them too.

"So, in summary, there is a need to replace the main police station that serves this area, Lincoln and wider West Lindsey. It needs to be in a good strategic location for that area, not land-locked in town. We have an existing police site at Nettleham that fits the requirement and which we already own. It has to be a strong option on cost alone. We are exploring the viability of planning consent. We are talking with and more importantly listening to local residents. In due course we'll make a full report to the Police Authority, who will debate the matter in public, and who will also listen to your views, before they decide, balancing the whole case for the good of the wider area, what course to pursue.

"In the meantime, this meeting is neither the start to our conversation with residents, we have had two open days in the village hall already, nor is it the end. We want to discuss this further. I know there is a really strong and well organised group calling themselves SOLVE who fiercely oppose this development. I met last week with one person from that group and I would like to talk more. We are open minded, prepared to listen to argument and evidence, I'd like to think you are too. The offer is open and genuine.

"Thank you for listening.  Mr Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to speak."

Massive Turnout Expected for Public Meeting Tonight

Nettleham Parish Council will be holding an extraordinary meeting tonight at Nettleham Village Hall, Brookfield Avenue commencing at 7:30pm.

The meeting is to consider proposals by Lincolnshire Police and G4S to build a new 'deployment base'/'custody suite' at the Police Headquarters site on Deepdale Lane, Nettleham.

Lincolnshire Police and G4S have been allocated half an hour to make a presentation, this will be followed by a twenty minute question and answer session. Following this residents will have an opportunity to make their views known, a period of forty minutes has been allocated for this. Finally the Parish Council will consider what preliminary position they wish to take pending a formal planning application being presented to West Lindsey District Council.

The meeting is expected to be attended by a large number of local residents, with estimates suggesting a turnout of around 300. Nettleham Village Hall has a capacity of 180, so plans have been made for an overflow area outside where local residents will be able to hear the discussion taking place inside the Hall. At the Village Hall Committee meeting on Monday night plans were put in place to ensure that refreshments would be available and there would be volunteer stewards available to manage car parking. Local residents are urged to make their way to the meeting on foot, where possible, as parking will be exceedingly limited.

The Parish Council's meeting follows on from a two-day exhibition of the plans held at the Old School, Mill Hill earlier in the month. The view that emerged from this consultation was that a significant number had concerns about the proposal.

Tonight will be a further opportunity for the Police to explain in detail how the concerns of local residents can be dealt with. The greatest fear local residents have is that those released will be free to enter the main body of the village. Despite reassurances by senior members of the force that released prisoners would be returned to 'where they came from' the legal basis for this is unclear. Many residents will want a specific reassurance on this particular matter.

Local action group S.O.L.V.E. (Save Our Local Village Environment) have presented a list of fourteen specific, detailed questions which the Parish Council will expect answers to.

Expected to be attending tonight is the Acting Chief Constable Neil Rhodes on behalf of Lincolnshire Police together with a significant portion of the local press.

Nettleham Infants School Will Become An Academy

The Governing Body of Nettleham Infants School resolved last night to make an application to the Secretary of State for Education to attain Academy status, giving the school greater operational independence.

Despite a small number of comments received questioning the move, during the consultation, Governors resolved unanimously to become an Academy.

Nettleham Parish Council had raised concern that the size of the school was not viable to go alone, recommending consideration of an umbrella, hard federation academy model. This was rejected by Governors owing to the lack of obvious candidates to join in such a model. The School, however, does expect to work with other schools in a soft collaborative approach.

Giles McNeill, a Local Education Authority Governor at the school said:
"This is an excellent  move, it promises a brighter future for parents, staff but most importantly the children at the School. 
"We have had to move on this now, we wanted to move at the time of our choosing, not when we are forced to by the local authority or central government."
A further concern raised by parents was the impact upon pupils feeding into Nettleham C.E. Junior School. However, it was felt that the change to Academy status would have limited impact as the two schools are very different already.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

School Governors to Decide on Academy Conversion for Nettleham Infants School

This evening the Governing Body of Nettleham Infant School will meet to decide if converting to Academy Status is the right decision for the school.

Academy status means that a school becomes free of local authority control, receiving funding from the Department for Education. An Academy is a limited company with charitables states, an independent school, underpinned by statute, publically funded and operating outside of the local authority.

As a Foundation School, Nettleham Infant School seems well placed to take advantage and benefit from conversion to Academy Status. There have been a number of objections during the consultation period, most notably from Nettleham Parish Council, these, it is understood, have been few in number and some have even been resolved upon further explanation.

The Governor's at the School have given a clear undertaking that the terms and condidtions of employment would remain the same, that the term times would remain unchanged, and that they currently see no reason to re-brand the school's identity.

The local authority, Lincolnshire County Council, is eager to see all schools in the county convert to Academy status and recommended conversion at the start of the academic year, last September. Cllr. Mrs.  Patricia Bradwell, Conservative (Billinghay and Metheringham Division), speaking at the time, said:
"The council has children’s interests at the heart of this. Any decision about becoming an academy rests with the governing bodies but we want to provide some clear guidance to schools who may be unsure of what to do."
Over four hundred schools in England have become academies since September 2010 with the majority being secondary schools.

Nettleham Parish Councillor Giles McNeill, who is a Governor at the School, thinks it is important for the School to be at the forefront of changes in education. He said:
"The Governor's felt we would reap the benefits by moving quickly on this. We made our initial decision to consult independently of the local authority, we do not envisage being part of the CfBT grouping arrangements. 
"Becoming an academy will potentially give us more financial freedom to look at what we need and meet the needs of our pupils. It gives us the freedom to be in complete control of the future direction of the school so that if we, or parents or staff want changes, we can make them."

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Refurbishment Continues at Nettleham Village Hall

The refurbishment of Nettleham Village Hall is continuing apace with the Village Hall Committee agreeing to refurbish the hall's kitchen at their meeting on Monday evening.

Nettleham Village Hall, located near the village centre, on Brookfield Avenue, has already seen a substantial improvement with the completion of the new £85,000 pitched roof being jointly funded by Nettleham Parish Council and The Village Hall Committee. Disabled toilet facilities have been introduced and the ladies and gentleman toilets in the foyer have been refurbished too.

In the Lounge, windows have been replaced with double glazing and a new ceiling with better lighting has been put in place, paid for by funds from West Lindsey District Council's Councillor Initiative Fund and money available to County Councillors to spend in their divisions from Lincolnshire County Council. A further significant improvement has been replacing the interconnecting, concertina door which separated the Lounge from the Hall with a new solid, dividing door mechanism. This has reduced noise transmission between the two rooms allowing both spaces to be rented out to different clients concurrently.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Edward Leigh MP Calls for Rethink on Nettleham Custody Suite

Local MP Edward Leigh today urged caution over Lincolnshire Police’s proposed new custody suite on Deepdale Lane.
"I think that it’s vital that Lincolnshire Police consider carefully the implications of putting a custody suite in a residential and rural area, as well as taking residents’ views into account."
People living locally have been concerned by the plans to relocate capability from the Force’s West Parade Station to a new privately run facility adjacent to Lincolnshire Police Headquarters in Nettleham.

Mr. Leigh has said that he supports the Police when it comes to innovative solutions to smaller budgets, 'I think that most taxpayers can agree that savings in the police budget which allow more focus on front-line policing in straightened times are a good thing'. However he added that 'schemes which cause large numbers of criminals to be released onto the streets of Nettleham are simply unacceptable. People write to me to tell me how worried they are for the safety of their homes, their children, and themselves if this plan goes ahead. It is crucial that the Police fully address these concerns before this project progresses any further.'

A number of local residents have made their opposition to the scheme clear, on the basis that released criminals will have nowhere to go. There are fears that they will commit robbery and burglary within Nettleham in order to fund alcohol or drug habits, or in order to get back into Lincoln.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Judgement Day: Police & G4S Exhibition Expected to Fuel Controversy

Local residents in Nettleham are expected to attend the first of two consultation events being held by Lincolnshire Police at the Large Hall of the Old School on Mill Hill today.

The Parish Council arranged for the Police Authority and G4S to hold an Exhibition in the Village at which they can roll out their plans; this will take place today and tomorrow at the Old School, Nettleham. The sessions will run from 9:30am - 3:00pm on both days.

A large number of local residents are expected to attend to find out more details about the Police's proposals. A number of Parish Councillors will also be in attendance.

The proposals have met with opposition from some quarters, a facebook group has been established as has a resident's group - S.O.L.V.E. - Save Our Local Village Environment.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Lincoln Council Election Strengthens Labour's Grip on Power

The Labour Party have firmed up their control of Lincoln City Council following local elections for one third of the authority held on Thursday, 3rd May 2012. 

In a dramatic set of results, which saw incumbent Conservative councillors and candidates fall to advances made by Labour and the wipe-out of Liberal Democrat representation on the authority, announced shortly after half past midnight, Labour emerged as the clear winners.

The Labour Party received a majority share of votes across the city polling 51% (up six percentage points), the Conservatives came second with 32% (down four percentage points), the United Kingdom Independence Party jumped to third place with 8% (up one percentage point), the Liberal Democrats were knocked into fourth place with 7% (down one percentage point). The Trade Unionist and Socialist Against Cuts polled a respectable 2.5% (up half a percentage point). The British National Party received less than a third of one percent.

The Labour party held the seats in the Abbey, Boultham and Park wards. They also picked up seats, from the Conservatives, in the Birchwood, Brancbridge, Castle, Glebe, Minster & Moorland and, from the Liberal Democrats, in the Carholme ward.

The Conservatives managed to only defend the seat in the Hartsholme ward. 

Following the contests the political balance has changed to 24 Labour, 9 Conservatives and 0 Liberal Democrat Councillors. This gives the Labour administration an increased majority of 15.

The turnout in the election slumped to a new low of 26.81%.

The most eye-catching result was undoubtedly in the Boultham Ward, which has been a staunch Labour stronghold, where Mrs. Carly Sharples (Conservative), who came second, greatly improved her Party's poll.

The closest contest was in the Bracebridge ward where the Conservative Deputy Leader, Marc Jones lost his seat to Cllr. Bill Bilton (Labour) by only 7 votes with 712 and 719 respectively.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Village Hall and Cricket Club Recieve Cash Boost

New covers will keep the cricket pitch, at Mulsanne Park, Nettleham, dry before important games thanks to Conservative-controlled West Lindsey District Council.

Nettleham Cricket Club was in need of some new covers, after the previous covers got damaged last season.  Mr. David Wheatley, Secretary for Nettleham Cricket Club, said the money is much appreciated.

"We are extremely grateful to West Lindsey District Council and in particular Cllr Ray Sellars for providing a £500 grant towards replacement covers.

"The covers were more than 15 years old and unfortunately couldn’t be used any more. It means a lot to us and our many players."

The club was awarded a £500 grant from the West Lindsey Councillor Initiative Fund, re-introduced by local Conservtives some years ago aftter being cut by the previous Liberal Democrat administration. The funding is available to all thirty-seven district councillors who are allocated £4,000 to spend over two years on projects in their ward.

Nettleham Village Hall has also received a grant of £1,500 to replace ceiling and lighting within the Hall's Lounge, which needed renewing after the flat roof leaked.

Phil McGuiness, who is on the Village Hall Committee, said:
"We are really pleased with this money because it has allowed the work to be done. This has made the hall more appealing for people and will help us to be a venue of choice for people who are hiring venues for weddings and parties. The place looks outstanding."

Cllr. Ray Sellars, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward), who is a member of the Village Hall Committee was really pleased that he could help out with local causes.
"It is always good to be able to give help where it is needed, and to help a club which encourages children from a young age to adults to play sports is good news.

"I was also really pleased to be able to help the Nettleham Village Hall. It is a very busy place and the activities that are on offer there entertain all ages."

The village hall has a busy timetable of events and activities, but if you would like any further details or information, please contact Mrs. Sheila McGuiness, Booking Secretary on (01522) 822315.

For more details on Nettleham Cricket Club and how to join go to

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Two Successful Prosecutions Following Rubbish Warnings

West Lindsey District Council took legal action against two men after they failed to clear rubbish from their gardens.

Cllr. Malcolm Parish, Conservative (Welton Ward), Chairman of the Prosperous Communities Committee at the Council said:
"Allowing rubbish to build-up in gardens is not acceptable and is not fair on your neighbours. We’re always willing to work with people and provide advice if they need it. But, when they repeatedly ignore that advice and their responsibilities we can and we will take action."

Mr. Alex Bratton, of Grey Street, Gainsborough was found guilty of failing to clear domestic waste and household items from his garden. A complaint was made to the council on 16th May 2011, that there was a build up of household waste and rubbish in the garden. The council asked him to clean up the mess, using its powers under Section 92 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Mr. Bratton did not attend the court hearing at Lincoln Magistrates Court on Monday, 30th April 2012, which was held in his absence. He was found guilty, fined £600 and ordered to pay £350 costs to West Lindsey District Council plus a £15 victim surcharge.

In a separate incident, Mr. John Dukes, of Harrow Close pleaded guilty of failing to clear domestic waste and household items from his garden. Mr. Dukes attended Lincoln Magistrates Court on Monday, 30th April 2012 and confirmed the area is now clear. He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £350 costs to West Lindsey District Council plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Court action was taken after final legal notices went ignored.