Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Message

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

It is these words of Yeats that perhaps, for me, sum up the year.

I would like to wish everyone who lives in Greetwell, Grange-de-Lings, Nettleham and Riseholme – the people that I represent on West Lindsey District Council – my best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

West Lindsey District Council sadly lost three of its members in 2013.  The Elswitha Report demonstrated how close the authority came to being in very hot water. Nevertheless, swift action by competent officers averted disaster. As a new member of the council I am determined to ensure that lessons are learned and mistakes are not repeated.

In the Nettleham Ward we have had a mixed year. There was bad news for local library users. Good news for Greetwell as new leadership on the parish council brought fresh efforts to bring the community together. And disgruntlement in Riseholme as the University of Lincoln served notice on Bishop Burton College that they would not be renewing the lease creating an uncertain future.

I have had a busy year, my appointment as the Conservative Group's Chief Whip means I have been busy keeping seats filled on committees and on occasion attending committees on which I am not a regular member as a substitute. This is helping me understand more fully how this district council functions.

I was also very proud to be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee. I think that Accountant, Cllr. Mrs. Sue Rawlins and I, with my background in political theory make an excellent and complimentary team heading up this committee. It has been a hard year. The Authority's rating for governance was rated red by our internal auditor and this means we must improve. These things take time, especially as they require cultural change in the attitudes of people. I hope to see some immediate progress on the balance of power between councillors and officers redressed early in the coming year.

One of the highlights of the year was Nettleham's victory, once again, in the Lincolnshire Best Kept Village competition. As a member of Nettleham Parish Council, who enter the village in the competition, and take great pride in ensuring that Nettleham overall is maintained to a high standard, I am pleased that our community's hard-work was recognised.

In May I was very pleased that Conservative County Councillor for the Nettleham & Saxilby Division Cllr. Mrs. Jackie Brockway, was successfully re-elected. In tough conditions Jackie managed to both increase her majority in percentage and numerical terms, which is an impressive achievement.

I have been able throughout the year to support a number of local projects through my Councillor Initiative Fund. I have supplied monies for equipment and repairs for Nettleham Cricket Club, photographic equipment for the children of Nettleham Infants School, funding to support the new Greetwell Get-togethers which are helping to make Greetwell more of a community and assisted in the purchase of a HD projector unit for the clubhouse at Lindum Rugby Club on Lodge Lane.

In April is was really please to join Jackie and a team of local volunteers from Greetwell with a 'Spring Clean' littler pick in North Greetwell along the A158.

I am genuinely distressed that the vacated Linelands site in Nettleham remains boarded up - I pass it almost everyday when walking into the village centre. I had expected to hear that progress was being made in finding a private developer to redevelop the site into a new elderly 'extra care' home. I plan to continue to make representations to the County Council demanding that action is taken to bring the site back into use.

I know that 2014 will have more challenges ahead and action will be needed to solve the issues we face. Nevertheless I feel a renewed sense of optimism is beginning to percolate through our nation and soon, I hope, everyone will begin to feel the benefit.

For each and all I offer my sincere wish for health, prosperity and happiness.

Giles McNeill
Working hard for the Nettleham Ward

Monday, 23 December 2013

Liberal Democrats and Independent Win By-Election Contests

In a close fought contest, for the Lincolnshire County Council seat of the Scotter Rural Division, Liberal Democrat, Lesley Rollings has succeeded in her third attempt to win the seat. The Conservatives' candidate, Richard Butroid, came in second, followed by candidates from UK Independence Party, Nick Smith, and the Lincolnshire Independents party, Chris Darcel.
Above: (Left to Right) Front row: John Gilliam, Matt Boles, Harriett Fowler, Cllr. Trevor Young, Barry Coward (unsuccessful district candidate), Cllr. Lesley Rollings and Cllr. Reg Shore (WLDC Liberal Democrat Leader),
Rear row: Behind Cllr. Rollings is Cllr. David Dobbie and his son, Rhys, Keith Panter, Paul Key, Harry Warriner, Heather Shore, Adi O'Neil, John Rollings, Cllr. Pat O'Connor.
In the Scotter Ward of West Lindsey District Council election Christopher Day, who ran with out descriptor on the ballot paper, secured victory, followed by John Cox, Conservative, Barry Coward, Liberal Democrat and Dr. Howard Thompson for the UK Independence Party.

Speaking at the Count, Conservative Party Agent, Giles McNeill said:
"I think these two results are very interesting in two ways; firstly, that whilst the Lib Dem candidate improved their share of the vote in the county contest, it actually went down in the district contest. The election of the Scotter Parish Council Chairman, Cllr. Chris Day and Cllr. Mrs. Lesley Rollings suggests that local residents want local candidates. This is something I am sure will be taken on by the [Conservative] party locally. 
"Secondly, despite the widespread misconception that the UK Independence Party is continuing to find supporters, this is not supported by the evidence of these two elections. In May, earlier this year, UKIP came second in the county contest. Today they are in third place and have lost seven percentage points since May."
Mark Valadares, on the Liberal Democrat Voice blog, subsequently observed:
"Lincolnshire wasn’t kind to Liberal Democrats in the 2013 County elections, with our vote share dropping by three-quarters and two of our five seats lost, so a December by-election in Scotter Rural wouldn’t have seemed to be promising much other than more pain, especially with UKIP in second place in May, but in a fine rebound, the seat was gained from the Conservatives on a 22% swing. 
"Admittedly, the West Lindsey District ward of Scotter didn’t see matching success, but our vote, small though it was (14.3%) held up pretty well."
Full results for the County Council contest are available here and here for the District Council contest.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council Named Best Council For Refuse Collections Service

Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council's Operational Service Team has been voted the best in the country for its bin collections, for the second year running.

Steve Leary with Coronation Street star Catherine
Tyldesley and Cllr Malcolm Parish
West Lindsey District Council kerbside collections of the black, blue and green bins have been awarded Best Performer in England: Refuse Collection by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE). APSE is a national benchmarking group that promotes excellence in public services among over 300 councils.

The winners were announced at a charity dinner in Blackpool, hosted by Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley who plays Eva Price. Chairman of Prosperous Communities Committee, Cllr. Malcolm Parish , Conservative (Welton Ward), said:
“I am very proud of our waste people, they have done a brilliant job. To have won this award two years in a row, is absolutely amazing. 
“It is fantastic news, and our residents should be really proud that we have been voted as having the best refuse collectors in the country. 
“Every week our collection teams empty up to 60,000 bins across an area of 447 square miles. Winning this award is national recognition for their efforts in delivering highly valued public services."
Opening the awards APSE National Chair Leon Unczur said:
“Local councils have led the way on delivering first class local public services. Using performance information has been a vital tool in that success.”
Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Jeff Summers, Conservative (Waddingham & Spital Ward), said:
“West Lindsey residents are doing fantastically well to recycle more than half a tonne of waste materials per household each year.  
“It is testament not only to all the hard work that council officers have put in but also the way in which residents have played their part in making the triple bin scheme such a success. Together, we prevented more than 20,000 tonnes of waste going into landfill last year – saving money and protecting the environment.”
The council was considered against several measures including cost, quality of service, the tonnes of domestic waste recycled per household, the percentage of household waste that is diverted from landfill, and customer satisfaction. The council was highly praised for maintaining its position as one of the highest recycling authorities in the country – despite making significant cost savings. The recycling rate stands at around 54% and the cost of all collections is only just over £1 per property per week on average.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Support Available for Community Projects

You can receive funding with expert advice from West Lindsey District Coucnil's partners CAN, the Plunkett Foundation and Community Lincs. They have a strong background in supporting community and social enterprises that can help stimulate employment, community impact and volunteering.
The Community Assets Fund has up to £1 million to support local projects in West Lindsey.

Chairman of the council’s Prosperous Communities Committee, Cllr Malcolm Parish said:
“If you have an idea that can have a positive impact on the people of West Lindsey, we would really like to hear from you. At a time when money is much harder to come by for community projects – we hope you take advantage of this fund. Together we can all really make a difference to our communities.”
The fund is looking to support ideas that fall under the following four key themes:
  1. Community halls - seeking funds for improvement work or equipment to increase their sustainability.
  2. Social enterprise - businesses trading for a social purpose and looking to start or grow in West Lindsey.
  3. Community-owned enterprises - run by communities who see a need for a service in their area and want to start and own a local business, like a shop, pub or post office.
  4. Community sports groups - looking to increase their local impact by refurbishing venues or purchasing equipment to widen participation.
Kate Markey, Managing Director of CAN Invest, said:
“Do you have an idea for your community that meets one of these themes? There is different funding available depending on which theme you apply for and business support to turn ideas into reality. We hope this call out under these four themes will inspire the people of West Lindsey to think about ideas for their community.”
Register your interest or find out more about the fund by telephoning The Plunkett Foundation on 01993 810730 or visit www.communityassetsfund.org.uk.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

By-Elections Expected Following Untimely Death of Councillor

Two By-Elections are expected to be called to fill a vacancy in the Scotter Rural Division of Lincolnshire County Council and the  Scotter Ward of West Lindsey District Council following the untimely death of Cllr. Chris Underwood-Frost, Conservative (Scotter Rural Division, Scotter Ward), whose battle with cancer is now concluded.

Cllr. Underwood-Frost was first elected to West Lindsey District Council in 1999 and was subsequently re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011. At the 2007 local elections he was re-elected to his seat when, tied with the Liberal Democrat candidate, both having received 781 votes, the peculiarities of the electoral system came into play and Cllr. Underwood-Frost secured re-election by virtue of a coin-toss.

In 2001 he was successful during the local elections to Lincolnshire County Council in gaining the seat for the Scotter Rural Division, securing re-election in 2005, 2009 and, most recently, in 2013.

Since the boundary changes and all-out elections of 1999 to West Lindsey District Council both the ward and the division have been consistently won by the Conservatives over the last decade, both of seats came under pressure from the Liberal Democrats around the middle of the last decade. The Conservative majority was only 131 votes in the Scotter Ward in 2004 before being determined by a coin toss at the following district election. Only 170 votes in the Scotter Rural Division in 2005, after coming so close, the Liberal Democrat challenge has since faded away; the second place spot at the most recent district election in the Scotter Ward, in 2011, was taken by an Independent, while the UK Independence Party were second here in the recent County Council election.

The defending Conservative candidate for the County Division is Sturton-by-Stow resident Richard Butroid, who is a Health and Safety Specialist and who has represented Lincolnshire at clay pigeon shooting. District Councillors Lesley Rollings, Liberal Democrat (Thonock Ward), from Pilham, will make her third attempt to secure the County Council seat; whilst Cllr. Chris Darcel, Independent (Fiskerton Ward), will make a first outing for the Lincolnshire Independents into this area. Finally the UK Independence Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln, Nick Smith, will hope to replicate, and improve upon the party successful second place earlier in the year.
Above: (Left to Right) Sir Edward Leigh with Conservative
Candidates Richard Butroid and John Cox on Scotter Green

In the Scotter Ward by-election John Cox, also from Sturton-by-Stow, will defend for the Conservatives. His opposition will come from the Chairman of Scotter Parish Council, Chris Day, Independent; Barry Coward, from Gainsborough, and local party Chairman of the Liberal Democrats; and the UK Independence Party's Dr. Howard Thompson, from Claxby near Market Rasen.

The Conservatives will have hopes of retaining both seats, although supplying candidates who live some distance from the area they will eventually represent may present an additional hurdle. The Liberal Democrats, locally, have always coveted this seat and will through everything they have at it, in an attempt to show that their electoral demise, since joining the coalition government in 2010 has been greatly exaggerated. Labour have failed to field even a county council candidate, which they have done in 2009 and May 2013, suggesting that the party in the constituency is in very poor shape. The UK Independence Party has been rife with internal disagreements since their success in electing a number of councillors to the county council earlier in the year; to the extent that their group has split in to two groups, whether this has impacted on the party's brand remains to be seen. The Lincolnshire Independents have no hope of winning here. If they get 200 votes they will be having a good night. Expect them to come in fourth place.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Nettleham Named 'Best Kept Village', Again!

Above: Nettleham Beck
Nettleham village, just north of Lincoln, has again been name one of the county’s best kept village in an annual competition.

Lincolnshire’s Best Kept Villages & Small Towns is an annual competition that celebrates villages all around the county. Nettleham came top of the Class III 'large villages' category, with Washingborough, south of Lincoln, gaining second place. Other winners in different categories include Scothern, Caistor, Butterwick and Silk Willowby.

Nettleham has been successful in Class III for a number of years, winning the category eleven times, coming second five times and third twice over the past half century, and in 2012 was jointly named champion of champions with Tealby.

Local Councillor Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), said:
“Nettleham is a beautiful village thanks to the hard work of both Parish Council and local residents.
“Once again I am proud that we have won against stiff competition.”
The Best Kept Villages and Small Towns Competition started in 1962 by Lincolnshire Branch CPRE and Community Lincs. It aims to encourage residents in those areas to 'appreciate their surroundings and take pride in the communities in which they live'.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Nettleham Parish Council Responds to Lincolnshire County Council's Library Proposals Describing them as 'Irrational'

The following letter has been sent to Lincolnshire County Council's Head of Libraries and Heritage:-

Dear Mr Platt 
Re: Proposed changes to library provision in Lincolnshire 
Further to your letter and Information Pack dated the 20 June 2013, the Parish Council held an Extraordinary Parish Council meeting on 11 September 2013 regarding the above proposals and in particular the proposal to close Nettleham Library. 
At the above meeting the Parish Council unanimously resolved to formally object to Lincolnshire County Council’s proposal to close Nettleham Library in May 2014.  The Parish Council’s reasons for objecting to the proposals are summarised as follows:-
  1. As stated in your letter the statutory responsibility for providing Public Libraries lies with Lincolnshire County Council and the proposals to transfer your statutory function to voluntary organisations/Parish Councils is simply irrational.  
  2. The Parish Council acknowledges that Lincolnshire County Council has to make savings due to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, however, a 31% reduction in the library budget is totally unreasonable; cuts of 5-10% would be acceptable.
  3. If the £1.9 million reduction sought in the library budget was spread across those living in the county (over 700,000) this would equate to merely 5p per person per week, which illustrates the absurdity of your current proposals.  
  4. On the 50p coin that was issued in the year of the Millennium there is depicted “Public Libraries”, which was intended to celebrate 150 years (1850 – 2000) of such libraries across the whole of the UK. If LCC proceed with their current proposals, they will in effect be dismembering the work that was undertaken by our forefathers over that long period of time.
  5. These proposals would have a significant impact on children’s educational needs, especially in the current economic climate.  Furthermore the elderly population would be adversely affected as they would be unlikely to access the proposed retained libraries due to transportation/health issues, etc.  A large proportion of the elderly do not have access to IT equipment which is becoming more and more necessary to undertake day-to-day activities. 
  6. A library is not just about borrowing books; it is also a hub for seeking assistance from the professional library staff for a great number of activities including assisting with IT issues and gaining necessary information.
  7. The library service could continue to be undertaken by LCC if it adopted a more commercially astute approach in terms of the running of this service.  For example, Nettleham Library at present only occupies a 1/3 of the overall building and rather than expecting other organisations to take over the management of the library service, some of the remaining 2/3 of the building could be rented to small/medium sized businesses thereby securing an income that could be used to off-set the costs associated with the running of the library. 
  8. We have serious concerns in relation to the costs stated in the consultation document especially in relation to the support costs which were the highest in the country; some investigations need to be undertaken in relation to these costs. 
  9. The online consultation process was not user friendly and the timetable (being held during the summer period) was grossly unfair.  Moreover, the requirement to lodge an Expression of Interest before the end of the Consultation process was fundamentally flawed. 
  10. Finally, a topic of this magnitude should be decided by the whole Lincolnshire County Council voting on the matter and not by LCC’s Executive Committee; such an approach is quite frankly undemocratic. 
Despite its formal objection the Parish Council nevertheless decided as a fall-back position that it would submit, on a without prejudice basis, an Expression of Interest prior to the 30 September 2013 deadline. 

Local residents voiced their concerns over Lincolnshire County Council proposals on BBC Radio Lincolnshire yesterday (24th September) when Melvyn Prior broadcast for 3 hours from outside the library.

You can listen again to 'Melvyn in the Morning' by clicking here.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Nettleham Parish Council To Object to County Council Library Proposals

Last night Nettleham Parish Council decided to join with other parish, town and district councils across Lincolnshire in objecting to proposals brought forward by Lincolnshire County Council.

Lincolnshire County Council, like other local authorities across England, are dealing with a difficult financial settlement from central government. Substantial reductions, savings or new revenue stream need to be found to balance the authority's budget.

Among the ways to achieve this is a cut of 31% to the Library Service budget, which will require a reconfiguration of the service away from a local authority model to a model with greater community engagement, through the use of volunteers running libraries in rural areas. Nettleham is one library that the county council would like to see run by volunteers.

Nettleham Parish Council held an Extraordinary Meeting at Nettleham Village Hall, Brookfield Avenue to consider the county council's proposals. Cllr. Terry Williams, the Chairman opened the meeting and explained how the meeting would be conducted. He introduced his fellow councillors, the council's officers and welcome 35 members of the public. The Chairman outlined the county council's proposals before welcoming Mr. Gary Porter, from the Library Service, and Cllr. Mrs. Jackie Brockway, Conservative (Nettleham & Saxilby Division) to answer questions from the public.

Questions were asked about the process that political leaders would be taking, the county council's need to make spending reductions, difficulties at pilots with regard to volunteer access to computerised library management systems, the effect on reading groups and disabled access to alternative mobile library provision.

Following the question and answer session, Mr. Porter left the meeting. Residents were then given the opportunity to make their views on the proposals, all universally against the proposed changes.

Cllr. Mrs. Brockway made a statement, she outlined that she had been working hard to dissuade her colleagues at the county council from pursuing this policy and was not prepared to support it. She stated she was really please with the quality and thoughtfulness of the comments made by local residents and that it gave her encouragement.

Finally the members of the Parish Council would debate and discuss the matter. Each Parish Councillor spoke. Cllr. Malcolm Leaning - who is also a district councillor - Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward), harked back to his use and the arrangements of the bookcase at the Church Institute in the village.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), also a district councillor, spoke in favour of objecting to the county council's proposals. He said:
"There are plenty of arguments about the specific proposal for Nettleham and the proposals more generally. I would like to offer another option for those campaigning against these proposals to pursue. The County Council is run by a coalition of Liberal Democrats, Independents and the largest group is the Conservatives.
"The Liberal Democrats' manifesto from march makes no mention of the Library Service. However the Conservative Manifesto said this: 
"We will encourage more people to play their part in stronger communitites by encouraging volunteering and neighbourliness as well as a greater use of public buildings such as schools and libraries where approriate.  
"We Promise to... Continue a countywide library network with better access and opening hours. 
"I was Jackie's Agent in the recent local elections and Agent for nine other county candidates across the district, eight of the ten were elected. I have to say I am ashamed that so little regard is being paid to the promises made so recently."
Cllr. McNeill also stated that, following debate at the district council on the preceding Monday evening, he had joined the working party at West Lindsey District Council that would be submitting the district council's response to the proposals.

Cllr. Joseph Siddall described the 'consultation  document' as 'an insult to the word'. Whilst Cllr. Mrs. Janice Clayton, the Deputy Chairman of the Parish Council, wanted the county council to 'react positively to the public out cry and reconsider their position', however, she said she was 'a bit disappointed with the turnout tonight'.

Finally Cllr. Williams, address the meeting as a member of the Council, not in his capacity as Chairman, describing the proposal saying that the '31% reduction is wholly unreasonable' and that he hoped that as the provision of libraries was a statutory requirement that a case might be brought against the county council to the high court on the grounds that the decision was 'irrational', citing the use of the word in the case of the Police and Crime Commissioner's Suspension of the Chief Constable.

The Parish Council resolved to object in the strongest possible terms to the proposals for Nettleham Library and, without prejudice, would form a working party to put forward an expression of interest in a community led library bid for Nettleham; although it was made clear that this was a fall back position.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Residents' Views Sought on £3,000,000 Cuts

West Lindsey District Council is preparing itself for continuing reductions to the central government grant, which is a significant portion of the authority's income, in the future.

Above: A consultation event is well attended at the Old
School, Mill Hill, Nettleham.
With a prolonged and difficult financial climate the government has announced further cuts to the Council’s grant over the next three financial years. It means the Council will need to find £3,000,000 of savings.

To do this the Council needs to understand what local residents think about current services provided by the Council and what should be the Council's priorities for the future. Local residents, across the district, have had the opportunity to attend workshops. For those residents that have not attended they are invited to complete an online questionnaire (click here) to ensure that their views are heard.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), said:
"I hope as many people as possible will take the survey. It is really important that we get a good sample of respondents as it will help us ensure that valued services are retained, whilst services that the vast majority of people don't support can be cut.
"I attended the event at the Old School in Nettleham and was very proud of the turnout from Nettleham, Greetwell and other neighbouring parishes." 
All responses must be submitted by Monday, 2nd September 2013. Residents with any questions should e-mail: engagement@west-lindsey.gov.uk.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Labour Win in Bracebridge By-Election

Labour had an impressive night in the by-election for the Bracebridge Ward seat, vacated by former Council Leader Darren Grice, coming top of the poll to secure an extra seat on Lincoln City Council and getting their poll up, despite recent slippage in national opinion polls.

Above: Bracebridge Ward By-Election Result
22nd August 2013
If Ed Miliband, the Labour Party Leader, is having a 'Summer of Discontent' then there was no sign of it in Lincoln last night as votes were counted and victory declared for Lincoln's newest City Councillor Mrs. Katie Vause, Labour (Bracebridge Ward).

Cllr. Mrs. Vause, a Geography Teacher, was elected as Labour's 25th man on to the 33 member authority. The Labour advance continues in Lincoln, in an area hitherto that has not been strong for them in recent years. It will be taken as a signal by Lincoln Labour that they are doing the right things to unseat incumbent Conservative, Karl McCartney MP, in the 2015 General Election.

The night saw Conservative trooper Mr. David Denman pipped to the post by a narrow margin of less than 100 votes. Perhaps as a kicking from the electorate for the way in which Darren Grice was forced out of office, or perhaps for other reasons, the Conservative poll was down nearly four percentage point, with voters switching to Labour. With a general election now only 21 months away this was not the result that the party would have been wanting.

Above: Election results in the Bracebridge
Ward & Division 2007 - 2013
The Liberal Democrats' Mr. Ross Pepper improved the party's poll standing back to above the 5% mark - just - as was suggested by the blog (here) earlier in the year. However, at only 5.03%, it is hardly the improvement that the party needs to be considered in the running in Lincoln's politics. Nevertheless, it will be argued by them that this shows that the party is healing after bruising polls following joining the Conservatives in the Coalition Government in 2010. Whilst not to the dizzy highs the party achieved in 2009 & 2010, nevertheless they are back to 2007 levels and this will restore their hope.

Mrs. Elane Warde for the UK Independence Party polled a respectable 23%. Demonstrating that if the UKIP bubble of May earlier this year is bursting, it is doing so at a snails pace. The local party will seize on this as evidence that the party is here to stay. Only time will tell.

Finally Ms Karen Williams for the Trades Union Socialists Against the Cuts coalition had a poor performance picking up only four more votes than nominees that got her on the ballot and polling less than a percent.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Police Commissioner's Report Clears Chief Constable

Commissioner Alan Hardwick, Independent (Lincolnshire Force Area), has been forced to accept the conclusions of a report he himself commissioned into allegations made against Temporary Chief Constable, Neil Rhodes.

In another misstep for Commissioner Hardwick a report, by the widely respected Chief Constable of Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, has declared that allegations against Chief Constable Rhodes as "unsubstantiated".

Chief Constable Rhodes was suspended over his involvement in a dispute where he was accused of helping a former employee at West Yorkshire Police pursue a claim of racial discrimination which he knew to be contrived.

The report concluded there was no evidence to suggest that Neil Rhodes acted improperly in his role as a Chief Police Officers Staff Association "friend" to the employee. In the report Sir Peter said he had 'complete confidence' Chief Constable Rhodes acted 'from the best of motives' to try and 'achieve a reasonable compromise' He added:
"The investigation team conclude that Mr Rhodes did not exceed the intended boundaries or scope of a CPOSA friend as he properly understood them."
The report accepted there might have been a conflict of interest in some areas but also suggested more clarity is needed nationally, on the role of CPOSA friends.

In response to the report, Mr Hardwick said: 
"I had to take on a serious complaint that was made to me and the way I went around that, I believe, was the right way. I couldn't ignore it. 
"I remain troubled by the nature of the allegation and that it has not been possible for the investigating officer to determine exactly what happened in a private conversation between two highly regarded and credible professionals."
Commissioner Hardwick said the suspension had never been a personal issue and a judicial review had cost him £37,500, alone - questions are still to be answered about the cost to taxpayers about this sorry affair. Back in March Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith ruled that the Commissioner's decision was 'irrational' and 'perverse', determining that the Chief Constable's suspension was therefore unlawful. The judicial intervention was sparked when the Independent Police Complaints Commission were approach by Commissioner Hardwick to investigate and they determined that there was insufficient evidence for them to conduct an investigation.

 Following publication of Sir Peter's report, in a statement, Mr Rhodes said:
"I have sought over the last six months to maintain a dignified silence, safe in the knowledge that I knew there was never any substance in the spurious allegation. 
"The past few months have been unusually challenging. Following the judicial review decision, the commissioner and I resolved that we must draw a line beneath this matter, for the good of Lincolnshire, and demonstrate we could work together productively and positively."
Commissioner Hardwick had been Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner for just three months when he took the decision to suspend Neil Rhodes. The matter has attracted critics at Westminster, with the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz MP, describing the way the chief constable's suspension was handled as a 'sorry state of affairs'. There have also been calls for Commisioner Hardwick to resign, amongst these local West Lindsey District Councillor, Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), who said:
"Commissioner Hardwick has once again been found wanting. First we had the refusal of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate the matter then the Judge's ruling and now the investigation that he set up himself has found that the allegations were unsubstantiated.
 "It is hardly a surprise then that people are calling for the TV anchorman-come-Police Commissioner to resign. He has demonstrated again, clearly that he is not up to the job.
It is understood that Chief Constable Rhodes intends to apply for the post of permanent chief constable when it is advertised.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Full Slate of Candidates to Contest Bracebridge By-Election

On Thursday, 22nd August 2013 voters in Lincoln's Bracebridge Ward will have the opportunity to go to the polls for a by-election.

A vacancy was declared following the non-attendance of former Council Leader Darren Grice, who was removed from his post for his failure to attend meetings. Five individuals will contest the election.

David Denman
At the top of the ballot will be Mr. David Denman, the Conservative Party candidate, of Mallory Close, Lincoln. He is an Ecologist and formerly a Lincoln City Councillor, serving on the authority from 2008 - 2012, making him the most experienced choice for voters. Mr. Denman says:
"I want to work with local schools and residents to find lasting solutions to parking issues, particularly on Hykeham Road. Additionally, monitor planning applications for Bracebridge to ensure that they are in the best interests of residents and local businesses. I’ll work with all community leaders to improve Bracebridge with better facilities and services for local people, including protecting and enhancing local bus services for our community."
Ross Pepper
Second on the ballot is Mr. Ross Pepper, the Liberal Democrat candidate, of Roydon Grove, Lincoln. He is the youngest candidate on the ballot and has run, unsuccessfully on a number of occassions, most recently in the Lincolnshire County Council election in May 2013 for the Moorlands Division. The Liberal Democrats, who have never had particular strength in Lincoln, will want to improve their poll rating and see it back above 5%. Mr. Pepper says:
"I got into politics during my sixth form days at St Peter and St Paul’s. It was during the Iraq War and I found myself opposing the vast majority of staff and students by saying the invasion was illegal."
Katie Vause
Third on the ballot is Mrs. Katie Vause, the Labour Party candidate, of Hykeham Road, Lincoln. She is a teacher of Geography at the Lincoln Castle Academy and serves as one of 13 Directors of the Academy of Lincoln Trust, which operates the school. Mrs Vause says:
"I am petrified of balloons!
"The most important factor for me from being a local resident of the ward myself is that a councillor must be someone who is willing to listen and action casework even if this is on an individual basis — and this is exactly what I intend to do."
The contest pits the Conservatives against Labour in a straightforward two-way fight - both parties were close in the County Council contest in May, earlier in the year.

Elaine Warde
Fourth on the ballot is Mrs. Elane Warde,the UK Independence Party candidate, of Malham Drive, Lincoln. UKIP are starting in third place based on the County poll in May, a good distance behind the two main parties - but a position they have seized from the Liberal Democrats in recent years. Mrs. Warde says:
"There are many issues that need to be addressed, however I believe the most important issue at present is the proposal to close libraries. 
"I’ll support the people of the Bracebridge Ward in lobbying the County Council to rethink their actions.
Fifth on the ballot is Ms Karen Williams, the the Trades Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidate, of Robertson Road, North Hykeham. She is a member of Unison and  has run, unsuccessfully for the party a number of times, most recently in the Lincolnshire County Council election in May 2013 for the Moorlands Division. You can expect the Trade Unionist and Socialist Against the Cuts (who did not field a candidate here in May) will be scrapping about in the lower single digits. She says:
"I was brought up to believe in the greater good and have always been a socialist. Got into local and environmental politics five years ago."
Labour will hope to show they are making advances, although this is not a strong area for them - they took a city council seat in 2012 with a majority of seven votes. With the national opinion polls showing a slip in support for Labour and Conservatives regaining supporters from UKIP the Conservatives will hope their candidate is successful, and have impressive form in the area with six out of seven wins since 2007.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Save Nettleham Library Group Holds First Meeting

Over seventy people overflowed from the small function room at the White Hart, High Street in Nettleham yesterday evening at the first meeting of the Save Nettleham Library Group.

Organiser, Emily Evision, opened the meeting to discuss the proposed changes to library services in the county being put forward by Lincolnshire County Council who have to save multi-millions of pounds from its budget. Mrs. Evision said:
"It has been fascinating across party lines, the village has come out incredibly strongly protective of its library as a resource.
"Our fear is that we currently have a library that is open four days a week, and we are being offered a library bus, for four hours, every two weeks."
District Councillor Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), briefly addressed the meeting and afterwards said:
"Local people recognise that we are living in difficult financial times for local authorities. I wanted to show my support to keep Nettleham's library open.
"I think, at this stage, local people are hoping they will be able to convince Lincolnshire County Council not to cut the library service in Nettleham.
"My concern is that the meeting last night did not formally agree to look at other options - such as a community, volunteer-led library - and with a tight window of opportunity to make an expression of interest to the County Council this may prove a disadvantage if we are to keep the library in some form going forward."
Lincolnshire County Council say that the library service needs to change if it is to remain affordable and better meet local needs. They point to successful community-led ventures in Saxilby and Waddingham as a way of improving service and value for money outcomes.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

By Election Expected in Lincoln City's Bracebridge Ward

A By-Election is expected to be called to fill a vacancy in the Bracebridge Ward of Lincoln City Council following the removal of Cllr. Darren Grice, Independent (Bracebridge Ward), after a six month absence from meetings of the Council.

Mr. Andrew Taylor, Chief Executive of the City Council, explained:
"Where a member does not attend any meeting of the council for a period of six consecutive months from the date of their last attendance, then they cease to be a member of the council, unless they have received prior approval of absence.
"No such request has been received from councillor Grice. Councillor Grice’s last attendance at a meeting was Council on 8th January 2013. Accordingly, as there are no meetings scheduled which he could now attend, his term of office will cease on 8 July 2013.
"The Council must then declare the vacancy. Where the council declares the office to be vacant, the election to fill the vacancy must be held within 35 days of this date."
A timetable for the by-election is expected to be published shortly after Monday, 8th July 2013 and will mean a by-election will probably be held on Thursday, 8th August 2013.

In the last election, in the Lincoln Bracebridge Division of Lincolnshire County Council, which covers, broadly speaking, the same geographical area as the Bracebridge Ward of Lincoln City Council the result was:

Conservatives 36.11%, Labour 34.00%, Liberal Democrat 3.72%, UKIP 23.57% and Lincolnshire Independent 2.61%.

The Conservatives will hope their candidate is successful, and have impressive form in the area with six out of seven wins since 2007. Labour will hope to show they are making advances, although this is not a strong area for them - they took a city council seat in 2012 with a majority of seven votes. UKIP will be looking to improve their poll rating from May's local election and will seek to improve their position to second place, from third. The Liberal Democrats, who have never had particular strength in Lincoln, will want to improve their poll rating and see it back above 5%.
Above: Election results (% vote) of contests in the Bracebridge Ward and Lincoln Bracebridge Division 2007-2013

Traditionally this seat has not been contested by the Lincolnshire Independents, if they field a candidate they will probably have limited impact. The BNP have infrequently fielded candidates in this seat and they could again for a by-election, depending on the strength of their party locally following the party's route from the electoral battlefield in Britain.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Nettleham Library Threatened with Closure

Lincolnshire County Council, who run local library services, have to make £125 million of savings. Already nearly £90 million has been achieved but a further £35 million has to be found in the next two years. The Library Service, which current has a budget in excess of £6 million is expected contribute by saving around £1.9 million on its current budget. It is proposed that a number of local libraries, including the one in Nettleham, be run by teams of volunteers.
Nettleham Parish Council met last night, and briefly addressed the proposed changes to library services within the village. Whilst it was not possible to include a full and substantive discussion on the matter, some consideration took place and representation were received from members of the public.
Nettleham Parish Council had been surprised by the county council's plans, only hearing last Friday that changes to the library service were needed, with other residents across the county, when the plans were leaked, prior to Monday, 2nd July, when public consultation was due to begin. The leaking of these plans has caused distress to staff in the libraries, who face an uncertain future, and who found out about the changes through local media's reports of the leak and not in line with the planned consultation timetable.
One local resident, Emily Evision, of Sudbrooke Lane, said:
"I had a moment to speak and tried to state the needs of all parts of the community, and how strongly people feel about saving our library. Councillor Jackie Brockway tried to change the [County Council's] decision into an opportunity to get something that works better for us. Giles McNeill offered us his support, and I believe that all of the Parish Councillors were unhappy with the idea of losing the library.
"[The Parish Council] decided to bring the subject up for proper full discussion at the next meeting in July. At that point we can table questions and be a part of the discussion. They also decided to hold a special public meeting on the library closure in early September."

District Councillor Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward) added:
"I want to see our library remain open and if that means looking at a range of different options to do that, then we must.
"Local Council's face a difficult time - on the one hand demand for services continues to increase, whilst on the other the money local authorities receive from central government is reducing. This is putting enormous pressure on politicians to square the circle and do as much as possible with constrained resources.
"I am really proud that local residents are taking the initiative to fight to retain a library in Nettleham.  I have offered my support to the campaign to 'Save Nettleham Library' and am prepared to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and offer a portion of my Councillor Initiative Fund monies to help any local community group look into the question of taking on running Nettleham Library.
"The information age presents great challenges to the traditional model of a library - but potentially it provides great opportunity for local people to recast a local service into more suitable provision, dynamic and reactive to local needs."
Details of the 'Save Nettleham Library' campaign group can be found on facebook. A petition has been started and can be found online here.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Edward Leigh MP Knighted

Local Parliamentarian for the Gainsborough Constituency has been named in Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday Honours List as a recipient of a Knighthood.

Sir Edward Leigh MP has received the honour for public and political service. He said:
"Naturally, I am delighted to be honoured in this way by the Queen. It is quite undeserved and I feel it is much more due to the efforts of others, particularly in Lincolnshire, than anything I have achieved, particularly their loyalty over thirty years"
Sir Edward has served the constituency of Gainsborough (formerly linked with Horncastle) for thirty years. He was a widely-respected Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and - according to the National Audit Office - saved the taxpayer around £4bn during his eight year tenure.  His long career in public service includes work as a local Councillor and as a junior Minister. He remains a passionate speaker on religious issues and on the management of the European Union.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Nick Boles MP's Office Attacked

There has been a "minor explosion" at the constituency office of Nick Boles MP, Conservative (Grantham & Stamford).

A bang and the sound of breaking glass were heard at the junction of North Street and Burghley Street in Bourne, Lincolnshire, around half past one in the morning.

Police said there was only minor damage to the building and no-one was injured. A man has been arrested.

Mr. Boles, said:
"Obviously I deplore this act of violence. The incident is being investigated by the police and I know that everyone will do whatever they can to support the investigation. In the meantime, we should all carry on doing our jobs as normal."
The BBC Reported that Ms Caroline Glithero, who lives nearby, said she heard two explosions about 45 minutes apart.
"I heard two very loud bangs and on the second one I went to see what it was and found a lot of debris and a window broken."
Lincolnshire Police said a 24-year-old man had been arrested and was helping police with their inquiries.

A spokesperson said early indications suggested the incident was not linked to any wider issues or recent events in the county.

Lincolnshire's Members of Parliament have been targeted in recent years, including Gainsborough's Edward Leigh MP who was targeted with hoax anthrax packages last year.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Karl McCartney MP Re-Adopted to fight Lincoln at the Next General Election

At the meeting of the Lincoln Conservative Association's Executive Council, held after a Special General Meeting, on 28th May 2013, Karl McCartney MP was re-adopted as its candidate for the Lincoln Constituency at the next General Election.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr. McCartney thanked members of the Association for their continuing support and pledged his full commitment to fighting the next election.

Mr. Kelly Smith, Association Chairman, said:
"I'm delighted that Karl has been re-adopted and will be our candidate at the next General Election. Nobody works harder for Lincoln, standing up for our local interests on the National stage. We look forward to the election campaign with great enthusiasm."

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Edward Leigh Responds to Saxilby Terror Attack Link

Edward Leigh MP, who represents the Gainsborough Constituency in Lincolnshire, has said he has ‘every confidence’ in Lincolnshire Police as they assist with the suspected terror attack investigation.

Mr. Leigh was speaking as the Lincolshire Police force was supporting officers from the Metropolitan Police during a search on a house in Saxilby.

It is believed that one of the men arrested in connection with the killing of a soldier in Woolwich on Tuesday used to live in a house on Hotchkin Avenue, Saxilby with his family. Mr. Leigh said:
“Every effort must be made to ensure terrorists feel the full weight of British justice.”
“I have every confidence in Lincolnshire Police and their work in coordination with the Metropolitan Police.”
The Woolwich attack happened at 2.20pm on Tuesday as horrified witnesses, including children, looked on. Eyewitnesses say the victim was hacked to death by two men, named locally as 22-year-old Mr. Michael Adebowale and 28-year-old Mr. Michael Adebolajo. After the attack they waited for police, asking people to film and take photos of them.

One man, thought to be Mr. Adebolajo, was filmed holding a meat cleaver and knife, his hands covered in blood. He told onlookers he carried out the attack because British soldiers are killing Muslims every day.

They were shot as police tried to arrest them, are now under armed guard at separate hospitals in London.

Residents in Saxilby, near Lincoln, have spoken of their shock after police raided the former home of Mr. Michael Adebolajo.

The house, in the normally sedate Lincolnshire village, is believed to belong to his father, Mr. Anthony Adebolajo, understood to be a nurse.

District and County Councillor Jackie Brockway, who represents the Saxilby Ward of West Lindsey District Council and Nettleham & Saxilby Division on Lincolnshire County Council, lives in Sykes Lane, Saxilby. She was on the estate this morning offering to help however she could.
“I heard about this on my way to an appointment and I have come here to give my card with my contact details directly to the police. I want to say that any residents who need support or help to get in touch.
“We want to make sure that everyone is comfortable and not concerned in any way.
“I understand the police have got this very well organised. Obviously it is a serious police operation and it’s important for them to know that the community supports them.
“Regarding the incident in Woolwich I am absolutely horrified that this could happen on the streets of Britain. But I think we must be calm and go about our daily lives and support the authorities in their duties.”

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Lincolnshire's UKIP Councillors Embroiled in Racism Row

The Sunday Mirror report that, despite a claim that UKIP have cracked down, the newspaper have investigated 'sickening rants' on social media.

Lincolnshire County Council's Leader of the Opposition, Cllr. Chris Pain, UKIP (Wainfleet and Burgh), who is the party's East Midlands regional Chairman, is named by the paper as the author of a commment that reads:
"Have you noticed that if you rearrange the letters in 'illegal immigrants', and add just a few more letters, it spells, 'Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, non-English-speaking ********* and take those other hairy-faced, sandal wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-*******, raghead ******* with you."
Cllr. Pain claims his Facebook account had been hacked.

Another, Cllr. Ms Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright, UKIP (Boston North West), has complained that mosques being built in 'quintessentially English' Cambridge, asking:
"Is nowhere sacred for the Brits in Britain any more?
"Bottom line is we have too many muslims in this country!" 
Cllr. Ms Keywood-Wainwright has admitted that she 'probably' regrets some of her remarks. Claiming that she meant that in some areas there were too many Muslims, defending herself saying:
"My GPs are all Muslims and I have no problem with them at all.
"One of them is extremely nice and very, very good at her job."
At Lincolnshire County Council's Annual Meeting, held on Friday, 17th May 2013, All 16 UKIP Councillors refused to sign an anti-racism declaration, proposed by Group Leader, Cllr. Rob Parker, Labour (Lincoln West). Cllr. Pain said:
"I cannot support this document. It actually pushes forward the chance of multi-culturalism, one of the fundamental things that's wrong with our society.
"UKIP's stance is not racist. Our stance is on space and space alone."
Cllr. Mrs. Jackie Brockway, Conservative (Nettleham & Saxilby) said:
"I'm very concerned that there's a theme developing that seems to be attacking the vulnerable adn we need to be careful about that."

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

West Lindsey District Council's Conservatives Elect New Leadership Team

Conservative Councillors on West Lindsey District Council have elected a new leadership team at their Annual General Meeting.
Cllr. Jeff Summers, who represents the Waddingham and Spital Ward, has moved up, from his previous role as Deputy Leader, to become the Leader of the Conservative Group on the Council. Meanwhile, elected as his Deputy, is Cllr. Mrs. Anne Welburn, who represents the Cherry Willingham Ward.
Cllr. Summers paid tribute to his predecessor at the meeting, saying:
“Cllr. Keimach has done a magnificent job over the past three years in leading our group and providing leadership at the council enabling it to deliver for the people of West Lindsey. I am proud to have served as his deputy and am pleased to succeed him.”
Cllr. Summers has committed to continuing the Conservative Group’s work at the authority to provide quality frontline services to residents whilst keeping Council Tax low. Cllr. Summers commented:
“I am naturally grateful to the Conservative Group for electing me in to be their Leader. Such a position is a both an accolade and a responsibility. I will be working hard to build consensus.”
The election means that Cllr. Jeff Summers will be the majority Conservative Group’s nominee for Council Leader at the Annual Council Meeting on Monday 20th May and is therefore expected to become Leader of the Council. Cllr. Summers added:
“West Lindsey District Council has to become increasingly efficient to keep Council Tax down for residents, and maintain services, in these difficult times. The Conservative Group will work together to achieve that.”
Cllr. Summers has appointed Cllr. Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham Ward, as the Group’s Chief Whip.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

County Conservatives Form Coalition with Liberal Democrat and Independent Councillors

Conservative councillors on Lincolnshire County Council have forged a coalition with a number of Liberal Democrat and independent councillors to provide a stable administration following the council moving to no overall control in last weeks local elections.
Above: Tim Iredale (BBC Look North) talks to Cllr. Martin
Hill OBE and Cllr. Chris Brewis. (Photo: S. Edwards]
In a direct snub to former Opposition Leader, Cllr. Mrs. Marianne Overton, who leads the Lincolnshire Independents Group, Conservatives made it clear that they were not prepared to entertain Cllr. Mrs. Overton as a partner in any deal. Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo, Cllr. Martin Hill OBE, Conservative Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said:
"The Conservatives have been blunt in that we want to work with independent councillors - but not with the Lincolnshire Independent Leader Marianne Overton.
"I told Marianne in a meeting [that] if I was to offer her a cabinet role at Lincolnshire County Council, I would lose my job [as Leader of the Conservative Group].
"In her role as Leader of the Opposition since 2009, Marianne has crossed the line in criticising the council during what have been very difficult economic times for everyone.
"It would be almost impossible to work with her."
The new contingent of 16 UKIP councillors will form the offical opposition on the Council. Whilst Labour have in recent days, like the Liberal Democrats, elected new leaders after their incumbents decided to step down.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Conservatives Improve Poll in Nettleham & Saxilby Contest Whilst Liberal Democrats Drop to Third Place

Conservatives were celebrating in the Nettleham and Saxilby Division as Cllr. Mrs. Jackie Brockway, Conservative (Nettleham & Saxilby Division), was re-elected as the area's Lincolnshire County Councillor.

Above: Cllr. Mrs. J. Brockway
In 2001 the Liberal Democrat's successfully got their candidate, Ray Sellars, elected who secured 44% of the vote, he was successful in securing re-election in 2005 with 48% and in 2009 again with a 61% share of the vote. In September last year, at the by-election, following Cllr. Sellars untimely death, they dropped into second place with a 25% share of the vote. Last Thursday they dropped further to 21% and, in an additional humiliation, dropped to third place behind the U K Independence Party's candidate.

Meanwhile the Conservatives have surged from having 34% in 2005 and 2009 to 43% in last September's by-election. In the most recent election the Conservative candidate improved both her poll to 44%, and increased her majority.

The UK Independence Party had a good night locally, picking up 24% of the vote, mopping up votes from the Lincolnshire Independents and English Democrats who where not fielding candidates, but did do so last September when they recieved 8% and 1% respectively, the other gains by UKIP came at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.

Finally the Labour party held steady in the division with 11% of the vote, which is what they recieved back in September, last year. There vote was up from the 6% they recieved in 2009, but down on the two polls of 18% achieved in 2001 and 2005

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Councillor Initiative Fund Cash Available

West Lindsey's District Council's Local Councillor Initiative Fund enables each District Councillor to put forward proposals for expenditure in their Wards to fund projects or initiatives which benefit the local community. All applications submitted are considered and assessed against how they contribute towards the themes, priorities and outcomes of the district council's Corporate Plan 2011/14.

Cllr. Giles McNeill (left) and Cllr. Malcolm Leaning (Right)
with an 'Aqua Sac' near the Chruch Lane bridge, Nettleham.
Nettleham's district councillors Giles McNeill (Conservative) and Malcolm Leaning (Liberal Democrat), have worked together and secured £500 of funding for Nettleham Parish Council to buy additional hi-tech 'aqua-sac' sandbags to be used in any future flooding incidents in the village.
A total of £4,000 over the next two years is available to each district councillor. From April 2013 a new allocation of money will be available to all 37 of the district Councillors.

Cllr. McNeill siad:
"I think this is a really great scheme, even though I was only recently elected, last September, I have put what monies I had available to me to good use; £30 for Neighbourhood Watch signs in Westfield Approach and £500 for Community Get-Togethers in North Greetwell. £500 has gone to Nettleham Cricket Club to help with repairs and improvement of the practice nets at Mulsanne Park in Nettleham. £90 has also gone towards some photographic equipment for children at Nettleham Infant School.
Details of the scheme's criteria can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

West Lindsey is Home to Lincolnshire's Best Kept Village

Residents and parish councillors gathered in Nettleham this week for the unveiling of a bench recognising the village as one of the best kept in Lincolnshire.

Photo: M. Leaning
Nettleham was named as joint winner of the Best Kept Village 50th Anniversary award, organised by Community Lincs. Sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this special award was given to Nettleham - and also to Tealby - for having the most consistent scores in the past 50 years of the competition.
Pennells Garden Centres, which sponsor the annual award and donate trees to the winning villages each year, donated a bench to both of the overall winners. Managing director Richard Pennell said:
“These two villages over the years have been consistently good. The enthusiasm of the people involved and the care that they take is great.”
The Lincolnshire Best Kept Village competition has been run by Community Lincs since 1962. In that time Nettleham has won its category (for villages between 2,001 and 7,000 residents) 11 times, most recently in 2010. Tealby has won its category eight times, coming second on 10 occasions.

Speaking at the presentation of the bench on Nettleham village green, chairman of Nettleham Parish Council Cllr Terry Williams said: “This was very much a tri-partite effort. It was an effort on the part of our residents, businesses and the parish council.
“I thank the residents all for their contribution over a 50 year period, for making sure our gardens are kept neat and tidy.
“I also thank the businesses around the village for making sure their premises are neat and tidy and making sure they have flower displays.
“The contribution of the parish council has been making sure the verges are tidy and cut.”
Co-ordinator of the awards for Community Lincs, Teresa Palmer, said villages were judged on their presentation, including whether there was any litter, how memorials and churchyards were kept, whether wildlife is catered for, and community spirit. She said:
“One of the strong points of Nettleham is there are so many different groups and so much going on for all age groups.”
West Lindsey District Council has supported the competition for many years and both Nettleham district councillors, Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative and Cllr Malcolm Leaning, Liberal Democrat, attended the presentation. Cllr. Malcolm Leaning said:
 “I am delighted my home village of Nettleham, where I was born, has come equal first over the past 50 years in the ‘Best Kept Village in Lincolnshire’ competition.
“Having been a member of Nettleham Parish Council for 48 years I can remember the first time we voted to enter the competition in 1967 – which was also the first time we won it!
“The award of a seat will ‘sit’ and be well used on Nettleham village green.”
For more information go to http://lincolnshirebestkeptvillages.co.uk

Monday, 8 April 2013

North Greetwell Community Comes Together for Litter Pick

The local community in North Greetwell came together on Saturday, 6th April for a ‘Spring Clean’ litter picking session.

Eighteen volunteers turned out early on the cool, slightly breezy morning to pick litter and debris from the road side, along the A158, which runs through the community from Lincoln to Skegness.  

The litter pick was organised by Greetwell Parish Councillor Sarah Bates with help from West Lindsey District Council’s Street Cleaning Team, who provided latex gloves, litter picking grips, waste disposal bags and organise collection and disposal of the waste that gets collected.

West Lindsey District Councillor, Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham Ward, which includes the parish of Greetwell, said:
“It is really great to see a good number of people turning out and volunteering for this. I was mucking in with our County Councillor, Jackie Brockway, picking up plenty of cigarette butts and then later larger items of general litter.

“There were all sorts of litter to be picked up, mainly stuff from the carriageway, empty cartons, bottles, sweet and crisp packets, cigarette stubbs and tabacco packets as well as a number of more unusual items like an estate agents board and a stray sand bag.”

If you would like to organise a community litter pick in your area you can contact West Lindsey’s Customer Service Team on 01427 676676 or e-mail customer.services@west-lindsey.gov.uk.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Starting Pistol Fired in 2013 Race for County Hall

Nominations for the local elections taking place on Thursday, 2nd May 2013 for Lincolnshire County Council have drawn to a close.

But the quantity of nominations for each political party - or in some cases the lack thereof - can reveal a considerable amount about the state of the political parties in Lincolnshire.

As the various parties line up like race horses on the starting line, waiting for the staring pistol to be fired, it is clear some mounts have the stamina to stay the course and go on to victory whilst others will limp in to last place. In these elections, in this race, it is winner takes all and so whomever is first-past-the-post matters.

First off, the Conservatives. Having had a voluptious administration of 61 of a possible 77 councillors over the course of the past four year term, led by Martin Hill, the party is a powerful force in the way in which the county is governed. They fielded a full slate of 77 last time and have done so again. No signs of any weakness in this stallion. Whilst perhaps past its peak of four years ago, nevertheless odds are on for this favourite.

Secondly, the Lincolnshire Independents. The official opposition at the authority for the past four years after a disasterous set of election results for Labour allowed for a coalition of the willing (Lincolnshire Independents, other Independents and members elected for the Boston By Pass party (which later merged with the Lincolnshire Independents)) to cobble together the support to allow Marianne Overton to become Leader of the Opposition. Fielding 29 (38%) candidates, up for 16 (23%) last time around. Certainly not enough candidates to put Mrs. Overton within reach of the magic 39 seats needed to have a majority. Make no mistake this is a bona fide political party. However, with the inherant instability of not having a whip expect contradictions, surprises and chaos. A scratchy performer.

Next, the Labour party. They have increased their deployment from 63 (87%) last time to a full slate. The party, back in opposition at Westminster, has found popularity in the polls at this midway point in the parliament. No doubt regaining some disaffected supporters who left during their time in government. Riding high in the polls nationally may not translate to victory in Lincolnshire. Expect a good showing for the party restoring their numbers back into double figures and a return to the opposition benches at county hall.

The Liberal Democrats. Well. They fielded a slate of 64 (83%) last time. This time that has dwindled to just 37 (48%) of the available seats to contest, also short of the half way mark. They are in no danger of forming an administration. Known for their ability to win by-elections this will be a test of their ability to retain incumbents - a key issue for a party which has dropped since the 2010 General Election from poll ratings of above 20% to around 10% now. Seats which they have held in successive elections, such as those in Gainsborough, are likely to be vulnerable to a Labour advance. Expect a poor performance, unlikely to complete the race unscathed.

UKIP, or more fully the United Kingdom Independence Party, are - if you believe the spin - 'a new force in british politics', they are 'breaking the mould' and becoming 'the real opposition'. Or put another way they are what the Liberal Democrats used to be. A party of protest. Fielding an impressive 60 (77%) candidates, up form 10 (13%) in 2009, they hope to capitalise on their party's current momentum. In April last year they started being included in poll reports. Moving from low single digits in April last year to a more sturdy double digit figure of 10-12%; putting them toe-to-toe with the Liberal Democrats in many polls. Their party leader Nigel Farage MEP is expected to tour the county during next week. However, don't expect a tide of purple to swell around County Hall. Like the Lincolnshire Independents, many of their candidates will be new to politics and to campaigns. This has the potential to cause them difficulties during the campaign and create doubt in the minds of electors. Pundits are predicting an upset for some Conservatives, who might lose at the expense of voters backing UKIP. Fighting slightly against the tide this time as the last county contest was held at the same time as elections for the European Parliament. At this stage an unknown quantity. Might be worth a flutter in the late stages.

There are a number of minor parties contesting some seats in the election. The Trades Union and Socialists Against Cuts candidates have made consistent, steady, if somewhat slow, improvements in the number of votes they have garnered to their Lincoln City Council candidates, since the last county contest in 2009. Fielding 6 candidates, up from just 1 last time. Not expected to win any seats, but may cause trouble for Labour in Lincoln. The British National Party have fielded 4 candidates, down from 22 in 2005. Considered, by those in the know, to be on their last legs, probably destined for the knackers yard. The Greens have fielded 1 candidate, down from 3 in 2009. Slightly surprising given that the party now has a MP, since the 2010 General Election.

Finally, there is that last special group that contest elections. Independents. Real ones. Not Lincolnshire Independents but  people standing who are not affiliated to any party. Actually independent. There were 20 Independent candidates last time around and this time 22. Despite popular myth that apathy is increasing; that people just simply are not interested in politics any more. As this is not a grouping or a party they move all individually in their own unique directions. An independent is not normally a contender in a contest, unless there is a very specific issue in a locality. Incumbert independents can usually be expected to retain their seats. There are none on the council at the current time. So do not expect the old grey mare to make the final furlong in record time.

In conclusion, there are 314 candidates contesting the 77 divisions of Lincolnshire, averaging out at about 4 candidates contesting for each seat. In 2009 there were 282 candidates. This time around everyone has the opportunity to vote Conservative or Labour. Most people have the option to vote UKIP. For a party that for years claimed to be the 'third party' to only field candidates before less than half the electorate is shameful. Whilst not all parties have stood in every division, it is nevertheless good to see a number of minor parties increasing their offering of candidates to the voters. It is good that there is a breadth of choice from the far-right to the far-left and everything in between. It is good for democracy for voters to have a real choice. And soon, voters will go to polling stations across the county an make that choice.