Monday, 21 January 2013

Gainsborough East By-Election Candidates Revealed

Four candidates have been revealed as contesting the by-election, on Thursday, 14th February 2013, for the vacancy in the Gainsborough East Ward of West Lindsey District Council, caused by the death of  Melvyn Starkey, Liberal Democrat, in late October 2012.

At the top of the ballot will be Mark Binns, Liberal Democrat, seeking to retain the seat for his party. He unsuccessfully challenged for a seat in Gainsborough North on the district council in 2011. He is a Gainsborough Town Councillor and was first elected in a by-election in 2008, subsequently re-elected in 2011. It is believed he is a member of the St. John's Ambulance. Expectations are high for Mr. Binns, the ward last voted in 2011 and backed his party with a whopping 57%. With the Liberal Democrats slumping in the polls expect an upset. Likely to finish second or third.

Next on the ballot is Richard Butroid, the Conservative Party Candidate, who is hoping that local electors will support him, so that he can join the ruling Conservative Group at the Council, and really deliver for the people of Gainsborough East. Recently married to Jenine and with a great-grandfather who was a councillor for Gainsborough; Richard hopes to be the second member of the family to represent the people of Gainsborough. Having trained as an electrician he moved into the Health and Safety sector a few years ago and now runs his own company. The Conservatives came second in the 2011 poll with 28%. They will be hoping to equal this performance.  Should not be written off, should take second, although a win is not out of the question.

The third name on the ballot is Michael 'Mike' Devine, the Labour Party Candidate, has lived in Gainsborough for more than forty years and attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. He worked on the land for eighteen years before becoming a cashier for a firm in Lincoln. Mike has been a member of Unite, the Union, for the pas quarter century. Labour only fielded one candidate in 2011 and got 16% of the vote, despite coming in third place they managed to get their candidate elected. They are confident of beating the Liberal Democrats, despite the ward being stubbornly in yellow hands since the boundary changes and all-out elections of 1999. With Labour riding high in the polls anything less than a win will be a disappointment.

Finally the fourth candidate is Howard Thompson, UK Independence Party, of Claxby, near Market Rasen. Making him the least local of all four candidates. Dr. Thompson stood, jointly, for UKIP in the Nettleham and Saxilby and Nettleham by-elections last September and retained the Party's third place standing in the district contest, and equalled that performance as new entrants in the county contest. A former RAF Police Squadron Leader, he runs his own company providing data information security to local companies. Married to Elizabeth, with three children and two grandchildren. UKIP have had a patchy presence in ward contests in recent elections and did not field a candidate in the 2011 election. They are unlikely to make a break-through in this election, despite a good showing in the 2009 County Council contest for Gainsborough Hill (they came second) in front of both the Conservatives and Labour. They have shown no sign of building on this. Regardless of where the opinion polls put them nationally, they have not demonstrated any deep support locally. They should be able to manage a showing of 12%, slotting them into fourth place.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Opportunities On Offer At Annual Skills Fair

A second Employment and Skills Fair will take place next month following the success of the inaugural event last year.

More than two hundred and fifty people attended the district-wide event in February last year and this year the event has moved to a larger venue at the Lincolnshire Events Centre at Lincolnshire Showground.

Organised by West Lindsey District Council in partnership with City of Lincoln Council, the event will take place on Thursday, February 14, from 10am until 2pm.

The aim of the fair is to expose members of the public and students to potential career an opportunities and information on how they can best prepare themselves. Training providers will also be on hand to help attendees explore opportunities for training and skills development.

In support of West Lindsey District Council’s 'Apprenticeships Work 4 You' campaign, this year there will be a special focus on apprenticeships, with a number of employers attending offering this as a starting point into a career for school and college leavers.

Cllr. Malcolm Parish, Conservative (Welton Ward), Chairman of the Prosperous Communities Committee, said:
 “The skills fair is a chance for students, jobseekers or any member of the public to find out more about employment, training and volunteering opportunities that will develop their skills and improve their chances of finding long-term work.
“We are grateful to all the organisations that take part and support our aim to help more people in the district find employment and opportunities to suit them.”
Exhibitors so far include the National Apprenticeships Service, Lincoln College Apprenticeships, Riverside Training, the Royal Navy and Marines, Gelder Group, Allied Healthcare, NHS, voluntary centre services, LAGAT, ISIS and Bishop Grosseteste University.

Organisations with job, apprenticeship and/or training opportunities who are interested in taking stand space should call 01427 676631 for more information.

Free transport to the venue will be available through a return bus service from Gainsborough via Hemswell Cliff and Scampton, a return service from the Lincoln Access Centres and through the Call Connect service. To book call 01427 676631.

Snowy Weather

Local residents are being encouraged by Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council to clear snow and ice during bad weather.

There is no law stopping individuals from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside a persons or from public spaces.

A number of town and parish councils have made preparations for severe weather. Residents can find contact details for their parish council here to find out what support is available.

To keep up to date with the weather follow this link Weather information. Information on Gritting and snow clearance can be found following the link,
People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.

It is unlikely an individual would be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if  cleared carefully.

Local residents should ensure they use common sense and not make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before.

Tips and advice on clearing snow and ice
  • Start early - it’s easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it
  • Do not use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
  • Be a good neighbour - some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths from their property
  • If shoveling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drainage channels
  • Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on
  • Spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it
  • Pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients
  • Use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
  • If there’s no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Games Machine Cash Stolen from Village Pub

Lincolnshire Police are investigating after cash was stolen from a pub gaming machine.
The incident is understood to have taken place at around 9:00pm on Wednesday, 9th January 2013 from the White Hart Inn, High Street, Nettleham.

It is thought that four men, who were drinking in the pub, smashed the front of the machine and stole the cash box. They then left the pub and may have left the area in a dark coloured car.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Lincolnshire Police via the non emergency 101 number, or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), said:
"This is a very serious crime and I hope that we can expect a proper investigation by local police. Obviously if any one has any information I encourage them to contact the police or Crimestoppers.
"I can only imagine how distressing this is for the pub's landlord and local residents. I urge people to be vigilant in the future."

West Lindsey District Council Refuse Planning Permission for Wind Farm

West Lindsey District Council's Planning Committee last night voted to refuse planning permission for a proposal to erect two 50Kw, 3 blade, 35m wind turbines at Normanby-by-Spital.

Local Councillors heard from local residents and the applicant's representative, together with County Councillor Lewis Strange, Conservative (Ancholme Cliff Division).

After some considerable discussion Cllr. Roger Patterson, Conservative (Scampton Ward) moved refusal of the application on the grounds that it was inconsistant with local planning policy. Specifically that because development should protect the environment, with regard to the impact on the character, appearance and amenities of neighbouring, and where relevant, other land, including visual encroachment into the countryside (STRAT 1), the construction of two turbines was not consistent with local planning policy. It was the view of the committee that  that the development would have detrimental impact on skylines and important views (NBE 10) and the development would detract from the rural character of the settlement edge and the counrtyside beyond (NBE 20).

Only Cllr. Malcolm Leaning, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward), voted to support the granting of planning permission. Whilst his party colleagues abstained together with with Cllr. Richy Doran, Labour (Gainsborough East Ward) and Cllr. Alan Caine, Independent (Caistor Ward).

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Gainsborough East By Election Called

A by election will be held next month to elect a district councillor to represent the Gainsborough East Ward of West Lindsey District Council.

The election follows the death of Councillor Melvyn Starkey (Liberal Democrat), who passed away in late October 2012.

Nominations will be recieved from Thursday, 10th January until 12:00noon on Friday, 18th January.

It is widely expected that the election will be contested by the three main parties; Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. UKIP are also likely to field a candidate. Should the election be contested the residents will be able to vote on Thursday, 14th February 2013.

Above: 2011 Gainsborough East Result
In the last elections for the Gainsborough East Ward, where three councillors were being elected, the Conservatives secured 27.9% of the vote, the Liberal Democrats secured 56.6% of the vote and Labour secured 15.6%. Two Liberal Democrats were elected and one Labour candidate. This is becasue whilst the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats offered electors a full slate of three candidates, Labour only managed to field one candidate. This suggests that the Liberal Democrats have a commanding grip on the ward. This is not the case.

Above: Notional Result for 2011
If the results figure is moderated, to eliminate the disparity of differing numbers of candidates being fielded by the parties in 2011, then the gap between the Liberal Democrats and Labour becomes a tantalising prospect for a real contest. It would put the Liberal Democrats on 43.1% and Labour on 35.6%. The Conservatives would be on 21.2%. This would mean that Labour would only need a swing of around 3.7% to take the seat off the Liberal Democrats.

So if all things were even Labour should be biting at the heels of the Liberal Democrat. However, the Liberal Democrats have slumped in local government polls since 2010. Looking at the National Projected Share of the Vote the Liberal Democrats have gone from 23% in 2010, 16% in 2011 to just 9% in 2012.  Meanwhile Labour have soared from 29% in 2010 to 40% in 2012. The Conservatives have been bobbing around 36% - 38% mark.

Predicting a by election result is not easy; but no one should be putting money on an easy win for the Liberal Democrats. And no one should discount the Conservatives, who have won every local by-election since June 2006.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Message

I would like to wish all the people of 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.

I am grateful to so many people who supported me last summer, helping me secure election as one of your two district councillors. I intend to work hard for all residents of the Nettleham Ward in 2013 and beyond.

Local government, across the country, is under increasing pressure. Councils are already tackling budget cuts of 28% and face a tough outlook.

The economic legacy left by Labour’s lassie-faire and lacking approach to debt – whether national or personal – is driving an unprecedented process of change as local authorities have to radically reform their services to meet the challenges the ‘Age of Austerity’.
Councillors are on the frontline. We are having to make the difficult choices about what services stay and what services have to go. We are choosing what can be transformed and what has to be decommissioned.

Elected by local people to protect their interests and represent them we must lead a process of innovation, adaption and change; doing so against a back-drop of declining trust in politics and politicians.

During my election campaign in the summer I made four pledges to local residents. 

At the time of the by-election I said that ‘Low Council Tax was my priority. It remains so. Your money must be spent well by the council, but I am sure you want to keep as much as possible for your own needs. Through my work on West Lindsey’s Governance and Audit Committee I scrutinise how effective the council’s organisation is and will continue to make the case for keeping the Council Tax frozen.

I also promised to bring the Linelands site back into use as an extra care home for the elderly with daycentre facilities. I am pleased to say that it is anticipated that a formal tendering process will begin soon to bring the site back into use as adult social care provision. I have been active on this issue, holding preliminary conversations with potential providers within the sector and encouraging them to prepare bids.

I made it clear that Nettleham was not the right place for operational police services to be moved from West Parade, Lincoln. I opposed the plans for a ‘Custody Suite’ at Police Headquarters on Deepdale Lane. I am very pleased to report that through concerted effort with fellow councillors at all levels and with the excellent campaign organised by SOLVE this view has prevailed and the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Hardwick, who I met the day following his election, and who was able to reassure me, has scrapped this proposal.

Finally I pledged to protect our villages from unsuitable development. I am pleased that I now serve on the Planning Committee, giving me my say in development plans across the district – a firm voice for our communities.

The past year has been one of change. As a Governor at Nettleham Infants School, we changed to Academy status in September. I have been working to reduce inconsiderate parking which local residents find vexing. I am particularly concerned, and hope to tackle in the coming year, parking around the school when the school safety zone is not in effect and the reports of rudeness by parents to local residents.
In 2013 I hope to bring back on to the agenda the issue of flooding. Nettleham seems to have missed out since the floods of 2007 in getting real help to mitigate the risk of flooding. At the end of 2012 we came very close to a repeat of those floods, with the path along the Beckside between Church Street and Vicarage Lane flooded.

In May we will once again be invited to go to the polling stations to vote in elections to Lincolnshire County Council. I am certain that participation will be higher than the paltry 15.3% achieved in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. However, decisions are made by those who show up, so I would encourage everyone to go and vote and if circumstances require I would urge you to consider if obtaining a postal vote is the right thing for you. I am confident that the Conservatives will remain in control of Lincolnshire County Council, where they are delivering for all the people of Lincolnshire in these tough times.

In 2013 I hope we can renew our commitment to heal our communities from the woes of the global economic recession, put aside partisan tendencies, and work with our political opponents on the many things we agree upon.

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

Giles McNeill
Working hard for the Nettleham Ward of West Lindsey District Council