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