Saturday, 30 June 2012

By Election Called for Lincoln East Division

Map showing Lincolnshire County Council Divisions within the City of Lincoln
A By Election has been called for the Lincoln East Division of Lincolnshire County Council.  The poll is expected to take place on Thursday 2nd August 2012.

The poll takes place following the resignation of Cllr. Rev. Sara Cliff, who resigned after attacks in the press over the level of her attendance at Council meetings, despite a change in circumstances which had led her to be working over 100 miles away from the city and ill-health.

Mr. Simon Parr
The Conservative candidate, Simon Parr, will defend the party's majority of 86 from the 2009 Local Elections.  This was an unexpected win for the Conservatives three years ago.  Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo Mr. Parr said:
"It doesn't matter what happened with Sara because we are where we are and we must move on as a party. 
"I will fight this campaign on a positive basis. 
"This will be my first venture into politics if I get elected, but I love it. 
"I don't care whether people are socialists, Muslims or Bristish, if they have a problem I will do my best to help them."
Mr. Parr is a mature student at the University of Lincoln where he is studying International Relations and Politics, living on the banks of the Brayford Pool.
Result of the 2009 Contest in the Lincoln East Division

The Labour Party are the main opponents. Their candidate, Robin Renshaw, is challenging to take  back the seat he lost in the 2009 poll. They should expect to do well based on their track record of success in City of Lincoln Council elections in recent years, although selecting somebody who lost the seat last time around may prove decisive.

The Liberal Democrats have a dwindling presence within the division. With the party often in single figures in national polls they did well in the 2012 Local Elections to remain in third place in the Abbey Ward, which makes up the majority of the division. A poor showing would not be unexpected. The local party has struggled to find a viable candidate and have chosen North Hykeham Town Councillor, John Bishop as their candidate.

Mrs. Pat Nurse
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) candidate is is the only woman in the contest. Pat Nurse is a freelance journalist with four children from Waddington. UKIP did not contest any of the Lincoln City divisions at the time of the 2009 poll, so there form in this contest is difficult to gauge.  They have had a patchy presence in more recent elections in the Abbey Ward having not fielded a candidate in May.  Despite this they are increasingly organised as a party of protest and will be seeking to improve their position. The party took third place from the Liberal Democrats in the recent 2012 Local Elections for the City of Lincoln Council.  They will be looking to do as well in this poll.

Mr. Nick Parker
The Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts (Socialist Party) were first to declare their candidate, Mr. Nick Parker, who petitioned for the by election.  He is a veteran of a number of recent campaigns within the city.  They have fielded a candidate in the Abbey Ward in recent elections and were just two votes short of third place in the 2012 Contest.  The Socialist Party will be having a good night if they come in higher than fifth place.

The English Democrats have selected Elliott Fountain from Boston as their candidate.  They have not contested a single council seat either on the city or county councils within the Lincoln Constituency, with a track record of only 1.3% of the vote for their candidate at the General Election in 2010 Mr. Fountain will be fortunate to accrue more than a couple of dozen votes. expect them to come in sixth place.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Labour Leader to Visit Lincoln

Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP, will be visiting Lincoln tomorrow.

Complete details have been a closely guarded secret of the local Labour Party's team.  However, the Labour leader is expected to visit the Royal Naval Club on Coulson Road, off the High Street, in Lincoln tomorrow morning.

Cllr. Ms Karen Lee, Labour (Carholme Ward), the Mayor of Lincoln, is expected to meet her party's leader, but has caused some controversy by seeking to wear the chains of office as she meets the Leader of the Opposition.  Traditionally the role is seen as non-political, so the wearing of chains at a political event sets an unsettling precedent.  It is also a surprise that the Mayor has found time for the meeting when it is understood that she has turned down the opportunity of attending an awards ceremony for St John's Ambulance at the Lincolnshire Showground, believed to be on grounds that she was unwilling to get time off work.

Cllr. Ms Lee courted controversy last summer when she wanted to break with the eight hundred year-old tradition of the Mayor of Lincoln being styled as 'Mr. Mayor', when her term started earlier this year. She has also been criticised for not attending events for which she is booked. She left guests shocked by sending the Deputy Mayor to cover for her at the opening of the Doubletree by Hilton on the Brayford.

It is expected that the Lincoln Labour Party will use Ed Miliband's visit to announce their candidate for the Lincoln East Division By-Election expected in July or early August.


The Labour Leader also caused controversy and has been forced to apologise to Karl McCartney MP for not informing him of his intention to visit the constituency. Mr. McCartney says his office has received an apology from Mr. Miliband after he failed to inform the Lincoln Parliamentarian of his intentions. Mr. McCartney said:
"The Speaker has reiterated the long-standing convention and practice that MPs should let the residing MP know that they are visiting their constituency." 
"Unfortunately, Mr Miliband did not inform me. I have now received an apology by email."

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Council in Crisis

It was not too long ago, last year, that Gainsborough's Liberal Democrats were proud to announce that they had secured a majority on Gainsborough Town Council, after otherwise disastrous local election results for West Lindsey District Council - knocking them back to their lowest number of district councillors since 1992.

They got off to a flying start, suspending all committees to conduct a governance review (rumoured to be costing the authority several thousand pounds) and then later announcing a cut of 3.8%, in the Town Council's portion of the Council Tax for 2012/13, at the start of 2012. However, this momentum has stalled. Now the Council is in Crisis - with calls for the authority to be abolished.

In January the authority had it's first resignation.  Cllr. Mrs. Pearl Banyard, Non-Aligned (Gainsborough East Ward), who was first elected in 1996, and who resigned on grounds of ill health.  A by-election was called and Cllr. Sean Brennan, Non-Aligned (East Ward) elected.

Then in March Cllr. Ms Julie Nicolson, Liberal Democrat (North West Ward) resigned for reasons unknown.  The minutes of the subsequent Town Council meeting merely mention, perhaps tactfully, the fact of it, but not the substance.  On 26th April Cllr. Dave Dobbie, Liberal Democrat (North West Ward) was elected.

As April came to a close, Cllr. Robin Perry, Liberal Democrat (North West Ward) - who had replaced Cllr. Dobbie on the Council in August 2011, because post election paperwork had not been properly submitted - resigned from the Liberal Democrat party.

Cllr. Perry now sits as an Independent.   According to the Gainsborough Standard he no longer saw eye-to-eye with the party and claimed 'bullying' tactics were being used to make councillors toe the party line. He said:

"Being a councillor is about the residents of Gainsborough and they should come first, not our own personal agendas."
Then, only days later, just prior to the Town Council's Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, 7th May 2012, two councillors resigned. The first, and most dramatic, was Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Gainsborough Town Council, Cllr. Trevor Young, Liberal Democrat (South West Ward).

A spokesman for Gainsborough Town Council confirmed his shock resignation stating:
"Councillor Young handed his notice of resignation to us on Tuesday at 4pm stating personal and professional reasons."
Cllr. Young, who continues to represent the South West Ward on West Lindsey District Council, said the Town Council was 'drowning' after 'years of previous mismanagement', reported the Gainsborough Standard.  He said that despite the £4,000 governance review aimed at improving the council, there was still a 'lack of commitment to change'.
"Less than half the councillors and officers turned up for the workshops."
He also said there was a lack of openness and transparency between officers and councillors, which had created 'major concerns' over financial issues.
"No-one on that council knows if the accounts show significant over spending or under spending at any one time.  
"The only option, I believe, is for the council to self opt into special measures, so that the district council can take over for 12-24 months
"This council is in crisis. Other bodies desperately need to intervene to get it back on track."
Meanwhile, Cllr. Brennan joined Cllr. Young in resigning. He stated that his 'personal integrity' would not have allowed him to stay.
"I was motivated to stand for election by a desire to serve my local community."
Cllr. Brennan said in the short period he had served (six weeks), he had become convinced the public body was 'a horrifically poor waste of public resources'.
"The only way value for money can be achieved is by the town council being abolished." 
"In the meetings I have attended I have seen pure maladministration and an embarrassing level of incompetence."
 Two by-elections have now been called for Thursday, 12th July 2012.  In the East Ward contest there are four candidates:
  • Richard Charles Banyard (Independent)
  • John William Beaver (UKIP)
  • James Alexander Plastow (Non Aligned)
  • Michael Tinker (Liberal Democrat)
Mr. Michael Tinker, serves as both a District and County Councillor for Gainsborough and so is widely expected to win with a comfortable margin. However, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) are eager to secure a by election win - even on to a first tier council  - There local Party Chairman, Mr. Nick Smith recently wrote, encouraging activists:
"John Beavers campaign will kick off with leafleting on Sunday 1st July at 2pm this is to catch the postal voters which get their votes on the 3rd July. 
"Followed up by leafleting on Tuesday the 3rd July".
They both have the potential to take the seat.

Meanwhile, In the South West Ward contest there is a straight fight between two candidates:
  • John Butler (Gainsborough Residents Concerns and Issues)
  • Timothy Mark Davies (Independent)
Little is known about John Butler and the 'Gainsborough Residents Concerns and Issues' name, is not a party but a description.  Mr. Davies is a former Town Mayor and is seeking a likely return to the authority. Either candidate has the potential to be successful, what is surprising is that in a ward which went solidly Liberal Democrat in May 2011 the party has not managed to field a candidate.

In conclusion there are significant difficulties being experienced by Gainsborough Town Council.  Both from internal factors, such as the machinations of the ruling Liberal Democrat group and mistrust of the authority's staff by councillors, and external factor such as dwindling public support for the council by the residents of Gainsborough.

For the Liberal Democrats the impact of failings, within and without, of Gainsborough Town Council is the loss of credibility with the local electorate.  Gainsborough Town Council is the only authority locally they can point to and demonstrate what the hallmark of a Liberal Democrat administration is. Looking at the current situation in Gainsborough perhaps the politicisation of the Council is nothing to be proud of.

Lincolnshire Conservatives Police Commissioner Candidates Whittled Down to Three

Senior members of the Conservative Party in Lincolnshire met on Saturday to agree the final three names that will go forward to the party members who will select their candidate for the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner, expected to be a contested election on Thursday, 15th November 2012.

A closed primary of members of the Conservative Party will take place on Saturday, 23rd July 2012.

The Selection Council have selected:

Cllr. Richard Graham Davies

Represents the Grantham North West Division on Lincolnshire County Council
Member of Lincolnshire Police Authority

Richard says:
"I was born and raised in Lincolnshire and now have a young family growing up here. It is my aim to make Lincolnshire a better place to live and work. Together we can make our county a safer place to live for everyone, but to do this I need your support. I want to hear from you. 
"Having been a supporter of directly elected commissioners since the idea was first raised I see a directly accountable individual as a vital step towards restoring faith in our police service. My experience dealing with Lincolnshire Police means that I have seen first hand how they operate and have the ability to push back and challenge ideas and decisions where appropriate. I understand the concerns ordinary people have about crime and this will inform how I set the policing priorities should I be fortunate enough to be elected. 
"Visible policing is a priority for the people of Lincolnshire and I will make marked changes in the county by creating ‘Cop Shops’ on every town High Street, holding regular public briefings at which members of the public can question senior police officers 
"I believe that my direct experience of business and local government, my understanding of policing issues, my in depth knowledge of Lincolnshire and my involvement with Lincolnshire Police and passion for better performance make me the ideal candidate for the role of Lincolnshire PCC."

Dr. Lee Rotherham

Former Assistant to Sir Richard Body, Member of Parliament for Holland and Boston

Lee says:
"I believe I have the right mix of political and frontline experience to make a real difference in the county I grew up in. 
"I want police officers seen on the streets, and back on the beat; and I believe in correct, not politically correct, policing.

Cllr. Kelly Jason Smith

Represents the Lincoln Moorland Division on Lincolnshire County Council
Member of Lincolnshire Police Authority

Kelly was elected to Lincolnshire County Council in 2009 and was later appointed to the Police Authority. Cllr. Smith was rapidly promoted to the position of Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Press Hostility Forces Councillor's Resignation

Lincolnshire County Councillor, Rev. Sara Cliff, Conservative (Lincoln East Division), has resigned as a member of the county council following 'unwarranted hostility in the press'.

Rev. Cliff was born in Manchester and had been resident in Lincoln for four years, when she was elected in 2009. She was a Governor of Waddington Redwood School. Rev. Cliff left teaching in 2001 when she held the position of Head of Year, as a science teacher, with responsibility for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Her work as a Methodist Minister reflected her lifetime involvement of working with the voluntary and community sectors.

Rev. Cliff's attendance had been a cause for concern and the Daily Mail reported that a Lincolnshire County Council spokesman had confirmed her poor attendance as having been flagged up to the Conservative Party by authority clerks. She is the only county councillor to have this happen in the three years of this council.

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr. Martin Hill, Conservative (Folkingham Rural Division) admitted he had spoken to Rev.Cliff about her attendance levels six months ago, the paper reported.
"There is no doubt her attendance of late has not been good at all."
In a statement to the Lincolnshire Echo, Rev. Cliff said:
"I have taken the decision to resign my position from the county council.
"While I did feel willing and able to carry on representing the people of Lincoln East, in view of the unwarranted hostility in the press, I am clear that this action is in the best interests of the Methodist church, the county council and my own family.
Following criticism from local residents, and in the press, that the outgoing councillor had not allocated her 'Big Society Fund', Rev. Cliff clarified that:
"As a matter of record I have awarded my Big Society Fund to St Barnabas to help support the excellent services they provide."

Friday, 22 June 2012

Weather Does Not Deter Lincolnshire Show Goers

© Prima PR and Marketing
Regardless of the weather, over 60,000 visitors attended both days of the 128th Lincolnshire Show.

The first day of the show saw a six percent increase in visitors on last year, credited to the warm weather on Wednesday, and spirits were not dampened by the rain on Thursday.

Organisers reported a five percent increase on trade stand bookings from 2011 and the number of visitors from across the UK entering livestock and equine competitions also increased.

It is estimated by show organisers that for every £1 spent at the show, a further £20 has been generated in the local economy.

Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the area experienced heightened demand for overnight stays from an extra 18,400 visitors. For many businesses in Lincolnshire, the show provides an opportunity to showcase local produce and services. Showground Director Jayne Southall said:
"We’ve had a fantastic show and it’s been wonderful to see everything come together.

"We had a big boost to visitor numbers with the wonderful sunshine on day one. 
"Although numbers were down on Thursday, the showers seemed to do little to dampen enthusiasm and we had a steady flow of visitors arriving throughout the morning. 
"The show has proved itself, once again, as a major visitor attraction which helps to bring Lincolnshire’s wider visitor and tourism story to a national audience."
© Malcolm Leaning
Edward Leigh MP, who represents the Gainsborough Constituency, within which the Lincolnshire Showground is located, visited the West Lindsey District Council tent and  met with local councillors and joined in with the keep fit dancers from the West Lindsey Leisure Centre, Gainsborough.

Linelands' Site Community Land Trust Ruled Out by Parish Council

Nettleham Parish Council has decided not to pursue obtaining the Linelands site on All Saints Lane in Nettleham following the authority's meeting on Thursday, 21st June 2012.

A suggestion had been presented to the Council, in April, by Mr. John Mathers of Community Lincs, that a Community Land Trust scheme might be one way of ensuring that the Linelands site remains in use as a care facility.

Section 79 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 defines a Community Land Trust as:

A corporate body which 
  1.  is established for the express purpose of furthering the social, economic and environmental interests of a local community by acquiring and managing land and other assets in order
    1.  to provide a benefit to the local community;
    2.  to ensure that the assets are not sold or developed except in a manner which the trust's members think benefits the local community.
  2.  is established under arrangements which are expressly designed to ensure that:
    1. any profits from its activities will be used to benefit the local community (otherwise than by being paid directly to members);
    2. individuals who live or work in the specified area have the opportunity to become members of the trust (whether or not others can also become members);
    3. the members of a trust control it.
It is understood that Longhurst Housing Association, which owns the neighbouring Church View facility, is considering options for the site. These include a physically joint new development to the existing scheme to allow for shared facilities. A split freehold would make this idea very difficult to pursue. Any scheme is in the very early stages, until Lincolnshire County Council commits to progress plans further with Longhurst they are not prepared to invest resources in potentially abortive pre-development work.

The Linelands building remains closeed and boarded up.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Local MP Welcomes RAF Scampton News

Edward Leigh MP applauded the decision by the Minitry of Defence to station the Red Arrows and the RAF’s Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) unit at RAF Scampton for the foreseeable future. This will include resurfacing the runway at RAF Scampton. Mr. Leigh said:
"I have just been informed by the Minister that they intend to keep RAF Scampton open. This is a vindication of our long campaign and a credit to all those who have worked so hard to keep RAF Scampton open. The Red Arrows are a treasured part of North Lincolnshire and I welcome their continued presence. The MoD’s investment in RAF Scampton’s runway demonstrates a welcome commitment to the future of the base. It is appropriate that the decision to keep open the historic home of 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, comes in the month which a lasting memorial will finally be opened to the brave men of bomber command, many of whom flew from bases in Lincolnshire. 
"It is fantastic news that we will keep all the jobs associated not only with the Red Arrows, but also with the ASACS unit, within the local area. 
"I have always been clear on my desire to keep the Red Arrows flying out of the home of the Dambusters and I welcome the MoD’s vote of confidence in North Lincolnshire."
Edward Leigh has been running a campaign to keep RAF Scampton open since the closure of the base was first proposed – triggered by the cost of runway resurfacing.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Support Needed to Improve Broadband Internet Speeds and Coverage in West Lindsey

West Lindsey District Council is asking local people to back their campaign for Superfast broadband in Lincolnshire.

In the next few months Lincolnshire County Council will be starting on a £57 million project to provide Superfast Broadband in the county. It takes you less than 5 minutes to show your support for Superfast Broadband in the county by registering your interest on a website (register by clicking here). This could make a big difference to our campaign.

By supporting the campaign local residents will help the authority to convince commercial suppliers that there is sufficient demand for better broadband in Lincolnshire. The information provided will allow the council to identify the areas in the county that currently have good or bad services.

Police Authority Responds to Parish Council's Concern

Cllr. Barry Young, Chairman of Lincolnshire Police Authority, has responded to a letter from Nettleham Parish Council regarding the proposed new Police Station to be built at the Police Headquarters site on Deepdale Lane in the village.  Mr. Young writes:
"We very much appreciated the opportunity which our attendance at your recent Extraordinary Parish  Council meeting gave us to explain our thinking and try to allay some of the very understandable, although not always entirely valid, concerns expressed. 
"I note the resolution passed by the Parish Council after we had left and comment as follows:
  1. Lincolnshire Police Authority has specific statutory responsibilities which mean that we simply cannot undertake to defer individual substantive decisions such as this until the arrival of the Commissioner towards the end of November. However, in reality, the "Lincoln Project" of which this is just a part, is still very much in its embryonic stages and I foresee much if not all of the time between now and then being needed for the completion og our current investigations, considerations of appropriate technical reports and further consultation, let alone any entry into the formal planning process if ultimately we decide that it would be appropriate to proceed in any particular way.
  1. We have always made it clear that dialogue with the Parish Council will continue throughout as appropriate and we value the important role you play in linking us to the Nettleham community's views.
  1. I not that in the meantime the Parish Council is opposed to the current proposals.
"I look forward to further discussion with the Parish Council as matters develop."