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.