Tuesday, 31 July 2012

PCC2012: Richard Davies Supports Local Residents On Nettleham Custody Suite Proposals

Conservative Candidate for Lincolnshire's first Police and Crime Commissioner, Cllr. Richard Davies, has supported local residents in both Nettleham and Lincoln by opposing current plans to move the West Parade Police Station's facilities to a new build at the Police Headquarter's site on Deepdale Lane, Nettleham. Cllr. Davies said:
"Lincolnshire Police have floated the idea of moving Lincoln’s West Parade Police Station and Custody Suite to Nettleham.
"Looking at the current evidence and plans for the relocation of Lincoln City Police Station I do not think that Nettleham is the best place to locate a custody suite. 
"On the broader issue of city wide policing: I believe Lincoln city centre needs a policing presence in the form of a police station, including custody suite – West Parade may not be the best location but we need a comprehensive business case and consultation of all options before a decision is made"

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Lib Dem Council Crisis Worsens

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the problems facing Gainsborough Town Council, currently run by a Liberal Democrat administration. 

A review of the council’s governance has cost £4,000 and with a string of resignations forcing by-elections, caused by the resignation of councillors who simply could not face the ‘maladministration’ and ‘embarrassing level of incompetence’, the council is in real trouble. Some have even been calling for the authority to be abolished or opt into special measures; with West Lindsey District Council taking over.

The crisis has got so bad that an urgent review of the authority’s finances has been undertaken by the finance team at West Lindsey District Council. So perilous is the position that it is understood they have only around £2,000 as a reserve.

Councillors met last week to approve an revised budget to make emergency cuts. Staff hours are being cut, community grants have been suspended and all areas of the council’s expenditure are being reviewed to see where money can be clawed back.

Financial Services Manager, Mr. Russell Stone, at West Lindsey District Council gave a presentation to Town Councillors on the current state of the books. He said it was not clear how much the council had overspent, but that the dwindling of reserve funds highlighted the seriousness of the situation, leaving less than £2,000 in contingency funds.
"The reserves the council has had have been depleted over the last four years or so through sustained overspending in that period to the tune of about £100,000."
The Gainsborough Standard reports that he told councillors that immediate action was needed to prevent the authority sliding into a fifth year of overspending.
"The council should be holding reserves of around £50,000. That is not the level we have at the moment… At the start of the year it was about £8,000… That raises concerns about what is going on around financial management."
Mr. Stone said weeks of work had already been done to present a balanced budget for the rest of the year and stressed that any excess spending would alter the current position, and there is no contingency.
"Any unplanned spends like creditors we are not aware of or elections occurring, these figures will change… As a council you budgeted for one election and we have had three already which has cost an additional £10,000."
A review will now look to remove non-essential council spending and find more ways of generating income. Staffing alone costs the Gainsborough Town Council around £300,000 a year – by far the largest area of spending in its budget.  A review of how the town’s cemeteries are run will also cut costs. Mr. Stone revealed the council had been spending twice as much on its two cemeteries as it generates in income from them. Amenities like Roses Sports Ground, Marshalls Sports Club and Richmond Park are also to be reviewed. Spending on grants, events, Christmas lights and the Town Centre Partnership might have to be reined in. Mr. Stone warned councillors that:
"There aren’t any quick fixes. You need to take action now… Hopefully in two or three year’s time we will be back on a sound footing."
Cllr. Paul Key, who chairs the Management and Finance Committee is reported to have said: 
"It gets my goat when you read people on social networking sites pulling down the Lib Dem party, when it is not the Lib Dem party that was in control from 2008 – 2011."
Cllr. Key is correct, but the lamentable situation has been exacerbated by the Liberal Democrat administration that took control of the council in 2011. A reduction in the authority’s portion of the Council Tax – known as the precept – of 3.8%, was heralded at the time, by the Liberal Democrats as a proud achievement: The consequence is that the decision has destabilised the financial base of the authority. 
Mrs. Pearl Banyard, who was the Mayor of Gainsborough during 2008/9, who resigned as a Councillor earlier in the year owing to ill-health, speaking to the Gainsborough Standard, said ‘everything was alright’ when she was Chairman the Finance Committee.
"The Lib Dems have had control of the budget for the last two years. They threw out the clerk’s budget in favour of their own."

Friday, 27 July 2012

Policing Minister and Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate Have Positive Meeting

Nick Herbert MP (Left) and Cllr. Richard Davies (right).
Nick Herbert MP, Minister for Policing has met with the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Cllr. Richard Davies on a recent visit to Lincolnshire. Richard Davies and the Minister talked over how to achieve real savings in Lincolnshire’s policing budget while at the same time protecting frontline policing.

Nick Herbert MP congratulated Cllr. Davies on securing the Conservative nomination for Lincolnshire and said that he was a strong candidate who was the natural choice for the voters of Lincolnshire.

Richard Davies priorities are to:
  • Deliver visible policing for Lincolnshire 
  • To prevent crime across Lincolnshire 
  • To spend taxpayers money wisely 
Prospective Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate for Lincolnshire, Cllr. Richard Davies, said:
"If elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner Lincolnshire I will take a no-nonsense approach to policing, for example making sure that the policing structure in place allow there to be more police at work on a Friday night than there are on a Monday morning."
Cllr. Davies was born and raised in Lincolnshire, is a local businessman and a County Councillor representing Grantham North West. If you want to learn more about what policies Richard would like to see implemented in Lincolnshire visit his website www.votedavies.co.uk.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

'Nun' Convicted of Sending Hoax Anthrax to Local MP

A 'Roman Catholic nun' has been convicted of sending hoax anthrax packages to senior politicians including Edward Leigh, Member of Parliament for the Gainsborough Constituency, and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Sister Ruth Augustus, was convicted of sending hoax anthrax packages to senior politicians yesterday. Sister Ruth posted six envelopes containing white powder to the high profile figures. Targets included were former Attorney General Baroness Scotland and human rights lawyer Baroness Kennedy.

An envelope intercepted at a mail screening centre was addressed to Mr. Clegg and on the envelope was written 'devil worshipping', 'freemason', 'sex with 30 plus women' and 'your poor Catholic wife and children'. Another was to Baroness Scotland, and had a swastika on it and two crosses, and 'stop this evil devil worshipping'. One to Baroness Kennedy said 'stop these evil devil worshipping freemasons'.

An analysis of the contents of the packages revealed the substance to be non-hazardous.

According to The Independent Harrow Crown Court heard that when Sr. Augustus, of Stratford, east London, who denied the charges, was arrested she told police:
"I look like a terrorist, don't I, working for a charity all over the world, with orphans?"
A jury took less than two-and-a-half hours to find her guilty by a majority verdict of 11 to one on all counts following a three-day trial.

Mr. Justice Saunders deferred the case until September for a hearing at the Old Bailey while a medical report is prepared on Sr. Augustus' mental health.  She was released on bail on condition that she does not make contact any MP or senior Government official.

Following her conviction, Augustus turned to the public gallery as she left the courtroom and said she would be appealing against the verdict.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

PCC2012: Conservatives Choose County's Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate

The candidates for the post of the newly created office of Police and Crime Commissioner for the Lincolnshire force area have become clearer following the Conservatives' selection of their candidate.

Members of the Conservative Party from across Lincolnshire came together at a closed primary to select a final candidate after several months of scrutiny of nineteen individuals who put themselves forward for the role.

Cllr. Richard Davies
Cllr. Richard Davies, Conservative (Grantham North West Division, LCC), has been selected as his party's candidate. As a member of Lincolnshire Police Authority Cllr. Davies is well placed to fulfil the demands of the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for the County. Richard says:
"Having been born and raised in Lincolnshire I understand the negative impact crime and anti-social behaviour has on hard working families across our county. I believe my no-nonsense approach will help prevent crime, reduce people’s fear of lawlessness and offer the public genuine reassurance about the way their communities are policed. That is why I am seeking the Conservative Party nomination for Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire."
Cllr. Davies is the front runner in this contest, he should confidently retain his deposit (£5,000 - lost if polls below 5%) and could easily win on the first choice votes (the system used for the election of these posts is the Supplementary Voting System).

Cllr. Phil Dilks, Labour (Deeping St. James Ward, SKDC), is a former journalist. He served eight years on Lincolnshire County Council up to the 2009 local elections when he was kicked off the authority by local voters. He served on Lincolnshire Police Authority during his time as a county councillor. He is a GMB Trade Unionist.

Cllr. Dilks secured his seat on South Kesteven District Council in a postponed election last year, however there was criticism as Cllr. Dilks gave himself no party description. Despite being a Labour Party member and former Labour councillor and Labour press officer. He now sits as a member of the Labour group on the council. He is expected to retain his deposit.

Other candidates at this stage to have emerged are former Chief Executive of Lincolnshire County Council Mr. David Bowles, Independent. The voting system favouring established parties expect him to loose his deposit.

Mr. Mervyn Barrett OBE, Independent has come forward as well and has a background of over 30 years experience of the criminal justice and crime prevention fields - for which he received his OBE in 1999. Perhaps the more serious of the two independent campaigns. He may retain his deposit if he does significantly better than Mr. Bowles.

Finally, for the moment, Cllr. Elliot Fountain, English Democrats (Fenside Ward, BBC) has put his hat into the ring. Expect him to loose his deposit.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Gainsborough By Elections Leave Lib Dems in Control

Thursday saw two by elections conducted for Gainsborough Town Council, as previously mentioned on this blog (here).

West Lindsey District Councillor Mick Tinker, Liberal Democrat, as expected, won the contest in the Gainsborough East ward with 265 votes, a majority of 140 over the United Kingdom Independence Party's John Bishop. Independent, Richard Banyard came third with 61 and James Plastow forth with 49.

Top: Gainsborough East ward result.
Below: Gainsborough South West ward result
Meanwhile in the Gainsborough South West ward John Butler ('Gainsborough Residents Concerns and Issues') won with 303 votes to Independent's Timothy Davies' 121.

In the East ward contest the Liberal Democrats vote was down 21 percentage points, whilst the Independent vote was up 2 percentage points and the non-aligned vote was down 5 percentage points. The United Kingdom Independence Party, in there first showing in the ward cut a 25 percent slice of the vote; this compares somewhat unfavourably with the 43 percent showing their candidate achieved in the North West ward contest back in April, earlier this year.

In the South West Ward Contest John Butler's credible win with 71 percent gives a clear mandate from the local electorate. Timothy Davies meanwhile increased his share of the vote by 6 percentage points up from the twenty-three percent he received at the by election for the South West ward in March, four months prior.

The result of the by elections mean the Liberal Democrats lost a seat in the South West ward, as they didn't field a candidate, and in the East ward they picked up a seat from the non-aligned councillors. They remain with a majority of four.

Forty New Jobs In Nettleham

Mr. Ridge (centre) with members of his team.
© Picture: 2012 John Jenkins, Lincolnshire Echo
As many as forty new jobs will be created following the opening of a new call centre in Nettleham.

Complaint Handling Services has opened an office on the Deepdale Enterprise Park recently, and initially has employed 20 people the Lincolnshire Echo reports. However, following the initial success of the company, they are looking to employ a further batch of telephone operators.

Mr. Rob Ridge, Director, said:
"We deal with payment protection insurance claims initially but we also have a company called Pension Handling Services helping customers with their pensions. 
"Everything has gone really smoothly since the initial 20 people started work here in June.
"Hopefully the business will grow and we are looking to expand to around 60 employees at this site. 
"We are part of a bigger company with offices in Leicester and Manchester but Lincolnshire was very attractive to us. 
"For a start, it is cheaper to set up here than in the bigger cities and the recruitment costs are lower here. 
"Having said that, we are struggling to recruit quickly enough at the moment, but I suppose that is a good thing."
The new call centre has provided residents with an opportunity to get into work, for which they are grateful.

Mr. Mohammed Sait, from Lincoln, moved to the city from London to live with his partner. He said:
"It was about six weeks from leaving London and moving up here that I was out of work. 
"Everyone who works here comes from a different background and age group and they make an excellent team. 
"When I was working in London there was no time to think but here everybody takes their time to make sure that they get things right."
Complaint Handling Services has also provided young people their first taste of full time work. Master James Robertson, from Welton, said:
 "I finished college and wanted to find a job. I heard about this and decided to give it a go. It wasn't really what I wanted to do but I have really enjoyed it so far and I will be looking to stay in this area of work for a while."
Mr. Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, was delighted with the news of more jobs.
"It is good to see a company have the confidence to invest in the county especially while the general economic circumstances seem challenging." 
"It is good to see employment being created at such a significant level by a local firm."
Complaint Handling Services are currently employing please contact them on 01522 596400 for more information.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Conservatives Hit Right Note in Langworth

Nettleham & District Conservatives have enjoyed an excellent summer's evening of entertainment and refreshment at the Memorial Hall in Langworth.

Members of the Nettleham & District Conservative Branch
with Mary and Edward Leigh MP
Over forty people, including local party members and supporters, gathered in the venue to listen to the first public performace of the Lesley Cullen Quintet, who had recently formed, together with other musicians.

A substantial cheese board was available for guests to indulge in, together with an impressive array of homemade desserts and strawberries and cream.

Edward Leigh MP, who represents the area, said:
"This has been an excellent event. The branch always puts on a good occassion and this is no exception. It is good to see many friends, and also new faces."

Friday, 6 July 2012

Gainsborough Deputy Mayor Fined by Magistrates

Town Councillor David Manning, Liberal Democrat (South West ward), was ordered to pay a £400 fine, £15 victim surcharge and £43 court costs by Lincoln Magistrates’ Court. He also took 6 points on his licence. The offence was ‘failing to identify the driver of a vehicle’.

The court dealt with the matter in Cllr. Manning’s absence. The fine has attracted criticism from some in the town, and calls for Cllr. Manning to explain himself, reports the Gainsborough Standard.

Former Liberal Democrat Town Councillor Robin Perry, who now sits as an Independent, has complained to West Lindsey District Council, claiming that Cllr. Manning’s behaviour had brought his position and the council into disrepute.

In a letter seen by the paper, Cllr. Perry said: 
"I believe he has broken the Councillor’s Code of Conduct."
Cllr. Perry suggests he had also broken four of the ten general principles which councillors should abide by - honesty and integrity, openness, a duty to uphold the law, and leadership.

Cllr. Manning, is reported to have said:
"The fine was in relation to a vehicle I used to own, which was caught speeding after I had sold it." 
"I was summoned to court for the speeding offence, but I replied saying I did not know who the driver was, as I had sold the car."
Cllr. Manning is a retired car salesman and stated he had filled in all the relevant paperwork for the Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) required to transfer registration of the car.
"I know what I am doing and I’m always meticulous with my record keeping so I don’t know what has gone wrong." 
"If I had been driving the vehicle and been speeding I would have got three points. But as it is I’ve been given six."
Commenting on the complaint that had been made against his conduct, Cllr. Manning said:
"It has been blown out of all proportion."
A spokesman for West Lindsey District Council stated it could not comment on individual cases, but that it would continue its support to ensure Gainsborough Town Council remained a 'healthy, fair and democratic local authority'.

Cllr. Ray Sellars Has Passed Away

Cllr. Ray Sellars, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward and Nettleham & Saxilby Division) passed away yesterday, following a battle with cancer. He is survived by his widow June, his children; Anita, Wendy and Mark and step-children Pauline and Debbie. The flag at the Old School, Mill Hill, Nettleham is being flown at half mast as a mark of respect.

Cllr. Sellars' funeral service will take place at 10.45am at All Saints Church, Nettlehamon Wednesday, 18th July 2012. This will be followed by a private family cremation at the crematorium.

The Family request family flowers only, but donations can be made to Marie Curie or St Barnabas through the undertakers Co-operative Funeral Services, 11 Proctors Road, Lincoln LN2 4LA. Telephone 01522 535800.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Veteran Hits Out At Being Duped by Labour's Ed Miliband

Mr. Mike Williams, Hon. Secretary of the Lincoln Branch of the Royal Naval Association, has hit out at Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP, following an event held in Lincoln last Friday.

Writing for The Lincolnite Mr. Williams voices his concerns about how what had been billed as a 'Veterans' Forum' was distorted into a platform for the Labour Leader to 'grace his followers with the usual platitudes'. Mr. Williams writes:
"I for one, and I’m sure I’m not alone amongst the Veterans, felt this had been shanghaied and we had been duped into providing a platform for an MP to grace his followers with the usual platitudes. 
"When the subject of this event taking place came up, I voiced my objections but was assured by Labour PPC Lucy Rigby that it would absolutely not be a political production. Well, I guess you can say that at my age, 56, I should never be taken in by the words of a politician. 
"By the time I managed to voice my question, almost an hour had passed and – with the exception of the question immediately preceding mine (not shown but referred to in the clip) – this was the first time the subject of the Armed Forces or Veterans welfare had been raised. 
"On declaring who I was, Mr Miliband thanked me for allowing him the use of the RNA Club for this gathering. I replied that if it had been up to me he, or any other politician, would not have been allowed anywhere near the premises."
Mr. Williams concludes:
"I will get absolutely slated by my Branch for this letter, but I couldn’t let go of the fact that a gathering intended to address Veteran’s concerns turned out to be nothing more than a Labour Party political broadcast."
Mr. Miliband was ordered by the Speaker of the House of Commons to apologise to Lincoln MP, Karl McCartney, for not meeting parliamentary protocol and informing him of his visit in advance.