Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Message

It is with continued pride that I serve and represent the people of Grange-de-Lings, Greetwell, Nettleham and Riseholme on West Lindsey District Council.

The obvious highlight of the year was the Royal visit in March to Nettleham of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. He came to officially open the Bishop’s Palace Site which Nettleham Parish Council has been working to make into an amenity area. If you haven’t visited the site yet, it is well worth taking a stroll through.

In February I was very pleased to act as Agent for Conservative candidate Mrs. Pat Mewis in a by-election to the Scotter ward of West Lindsey District Council. I am pleased to say that Pat and her team’s efforts secured victory for her and we welcomed her on to the council, early in the year.

The Conservative administration at West Lindsey, acutely aware that the benefits of growth and an improving economy are not being felt by everyone, once again froze our portion of the Council Tax.
I was surprised, pleased and delighted to be elevated to the Chairmanship of the Governance and Audit Committee at West Lindsey District Council in May; having previously been Vice-Chairman in the preceding year. I continued my role as the administration Chief Whip. 

If there has been one issue that has been most prominent in 2014 it has been planning. Be it new homes to be developed, the Lincoln Eastern By-Pass or Wind or Solar Farms; they have all generated considerable interest from local people. As a member of the Planning Committee at West Lindsey I have tried, within the constraints of the planning system, to get the best possible results. Planning decisions must always be determined on planning grounds. The best representations that we receive at the committee are when people come armed with our local planning policies and demonstrate how a proposed development conflicts with those policies. Based on the number of appeals, which have been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate, in the council’s favour; I think we are doing a very good job for our residents.

It was with sadness that I learnt of the death of Nettleham Parish Councillor Allan Bonney in October. He will be much missed. I have been pleased to support and welcome his successor Mr. Richard Porter to the council, who will formally sit with us for the first time this January.

As we approached the end of the year my time, and that of my colleagues, has become increasingly focussed on getting the district council’s budget to balance. It has not been easy. Tough decisions continue to lie ahead and that means that the local elections in May will be terribly important. They will be a choice between a competent Conservative administration that has weathered the choppy waters of austerity and has a plan for the future or the risk of the untried and untested alternatives. 

I have very much enjoyed the past two years as a district councillor for the Nettleham Ward. I hope that local people will be kind enough to re-elect me in May so that I may continue to keep our community at the forefront of the minds of local decision-makers.

For each and all I offer my sincere wish for health, prosperity and happiness in 2015.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Meeting with Minister Provides Hope for Hawthorn Road Users

Sir Edward Leigh MP has welcomed assurances from the Rt. Hon. John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Transport, following a meeting with local county, district and parish councillors and representatives of the campaign to save Hawthorn Road from closure, about the scheme's funding from central government.

Above: (Left to Right) Mrs. Sally Lidbury, Mr. Peter Moore, a
civil servant, Rt. Hon. John Hayes MP, Minister for Transport,
and Sir Edward Leigh MP
Concern has been raised by local residents that the scheme, as currently proposed, will lead to the closure of Hawthorn Road in Greetwell, just prior to the boundary of the city of Lincoln, having a detrimental effect on the ability of local people to commute to and from Lincoln. The group protesting the closure does not question, nor oppose, the bypass. However, they consider the retention of the road, as a carriage way, essential.

One of the group's spokesmen, Mrs. Sally Lidbury, told the minister:
"Our objective is to seek support from the Department for Transport to facilitate a minor change to the current scheme. We are not here to ask for additional funding, or short-cuts in the policy process. We strongly support the Lincoln Eastern Bypass but object to the closure of Hawthorn Road. We feel that residents will be disproportionally disadvantaged as a result of the closure under current plans."
Following the meeting District Councillor Giles McNeill, who represents the parish of Greetwell where the proposed closure is designated to occur, said:
"I think Lincolnshire County Council have been unsure as to the security, after the end of the current financial year, of the £49.5million being supplied to the project by central government. The minister has been able to reiterate the assurances of the Secretary of State that the money - key to making this project happen - will not automatically disappear in March next year. I am confident that Lincolnshire County Council will want to be absolutely certain that the cost of retaining the use of the road for motor vehicles is not prohibitive, but would expect that a revision is now very much something the county council will want to pursue."
Cllr. Ian Fleetwood, who represents Cherry Willingham and Reepham, at Lincolnshire County Council, said:
"If the money is not going to vanish I can’t see why the county council will not engage with the local residents to see if an affordable option is open to them. The minister was able to point us in the direction of the Local Enterprise Partnership which has just got additional monies from central government, and may be able to support the marginal additional cost of a road bridge, estimated at around £100,000 on the £96million scheme."
Sir Edward Leigh MP said:
"This meeting has been very positive and productive. I welcome the minister's offer to help support the common sense of retaining the vehicular access on Hawthorn Road. I hope to work with Lincoln's Member of Parliament, Karl McCartney, to persuade Lincolnshire County Council to think again and make this minor change and am fully prepared to bid for money from the LEP."
The minister agreed to write to the county council to provide additional details regarding the funding arrangements.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Two Solar Farms Refused Planning Permission by West Lindsey District Council

West Lindsey District Council's Planning Committee has rejected two applications for solar farms between Burton and Riseholme following representations of planning grounds for refusal by local residents.

Protestors from Riseholme, Burton and South Carlton outside
the Guildhall, Marshall's Yard, Gainsborough
The two farms, allocated to agricultural land between the villages of Burton and Riseholme, were previously deferred so that the applicants could satisfy concerns over whether the sequential test had been met - meaning the the applicant had chosen the site for the best possible reasons.

The first application by AEE proposed a 42 ha site comprised of two separate elements off the B1398 around Burton by Lincoln village and the A15; whilst a second application by RGE Energy was for the construction of a farm on land off Middle Street, Burton-by-Lincoln.

Numerous residents from Burton and South Carlton (in the Saxilby ward) together with residents from Riseholme (in the Nettleham ward) attended the planning meeting on Wednesday, 12th November 2014 at the Guildhall, Marshall's Yard, Gainsborough. Prior to the commencement of the meeting the group protested with placards, demanding the refusal of the schemes.

Both planning applications were refused by the council.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham Ward, and who seconded refusal of the first application and proposed refusal of the second said:
“Both applications have been refused due to incongruency with the saved Local Plan policies STRAT 12 (Development in the open countryside) and STRAT 13 (undeveloped breaks between settlements and green wedges around Lincoln). We also considered the National Planning Policy Guidance issued in March, earlier this year related to ground-mounted solar photovoltaic farms. 
“Whilst I am all in favour of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, building a low carbon economy, to protect our global environment - I must have regard to planning policies, and in my view these proposals did not accord with the substantive weight the committee felt should be placed on maintaining the green wedge, and the distinctive breaks between settlements.”
Before the meeting, the group argued that while they were not against the idea of solar power, it was the positioning of the two farms that they disagreed with. Mr. Bill Maris, who farms at South Carlton, said:
“I farm the land near to where the solar scheme is proposed. I’ve just had my soil analysed and some of my land is grade one and it’s certainly all grade two.
“A lot of the land that is proposed for this site will also definitely be grade two and some of it will be grade one.
“I don’t object to solar, I object to it going on good, agricultural land. It should be used for farming and there are many alternatives to energy but there is only one place you can produce food, and that’s on land.
“I suppose to the farmer that is renting the land it’s easy money if you’re offered a thousand pounds an acre for 25 years.”
Local resident Mrs. Sue North said:
 “We are not opposed to solar energy, what we are opposed to is where the farms are proposed for. These farms are on what’s called the green wedge, which was given that status by West Lindsey District Council to separate the countryside from the town.
“The two farms, which we have to look at together because they are side by side, would create a tunnel for the old coach road that people walk through.”

Mrs. Alison Richards added:
“For a lot of people the historic coach road, which is mentioned in the Domesday book, is a recreational route for a lot of people in the area; walkers, cyclists, horse riders and a lot of families use it.
“For many it’s the only route for people to the north of Lincoln without trespassing on a field.”
Mrs. Desiree Applewhite said:
“It might only be a temporary twenty-five years slot but it would ruin an amenity for a generation. There are plenty of other brownfield sites which can be used, such as disused airfields.”

Friday, 3 October 2014

Obituary for Nettleham Parish Councillor Allan James Bonney

Nettleham Parish Councillor Allan James Bonney , born Monday, 18th September 1939, passed away on the morning of Friday, 3rd October 2014. 

Allan was by trade a Builder and Civil Engineer having served his apprenticeship under John Laing & Sons Ltd. After his retirement he came to Nettleham in October 2006 and settled in Highfields, Nettleham with a smaller and more manageable garden than he had been used to.

Allan James Bonney 1939 - 2014
Before moving to Nettleham he had been President of the Middlesex Bowling Association and a member of the English Bowls Association Committee. He was a member of the Nettleham Bowls Club where he collected old newspapers on their behalf to raise funds and was the ‘Greens Advisor’ for Bowls Clubs in Lincolnshire.

He was first elected to the council in 2010 where he filled one of three vacancies following the retirement of councillors Meg Davidson, Alf Frith and Ray Sellars. It was not long however before he would have to seek re-election to council the following year. He was successful and continued his service to the parish.

In 2011 Allan was appointed by the council to the Skate Park Steering Group and served as a Deputy on the Property Committee, Planning Committee and Mulsanne Park Users Committee. In 2012 he was appointed to the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee and became a full member of both the Planning Committee and the Mulsanne Park Users Committee. He was also appointed as one the the parishes first two Snow Wardens, along with the Vice-Chairman of the Council, Cllr. Mrs. Janice Clayton.

In 2013 he came off the Musanne Park Users Committee and was promoted by the council to be the lead Snow Warden, also becoming one of the parish's Flood Wardens. Finally, in 2014, with his health impaired, he stepped back to be a deputy again on the Planning Committee and relinquished his roles as a member of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee, and both the Flood and Snow Warden roles.

Allan's four year service to the parish of Nettleham was characterised by a determination to ensure the best for local people, that the council's resources were properly spent and represented value for money. He was never afraid to challenge and enquire about the actions of other authorities and bodies which affected the lives of people within the parish.

Allan was no stranger to the local Domino and Cribbage Club where he was an active member. He served on the Committee of Nettleham Garden Club and helped at their Saturday morning store.

The flag at the Old School, Mill Hill, Nettleham is expected to be flown at half mast on Monday, 6th October 2014. A service of Cremation will take place at 11:10 on Friday, 17th October 2014 at Lincoln Crematorium. 

Allan is survived by his wife Teresa, daughter Hazell and son Ian, together with his seven grandchildren

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

West Lindsey’s Conservatives Dedicate Benches to Former Colleagues

Conservative Councillors on West Lindsey District Council have had two benches in Marshall’s Yard, Gainsborough dedicated to the memory of former colleagues, Christopher Underwood-Frost and William Parry who both represented the Scotter Ward.

Double sadness struck last year when Cllr. Underwood-Frost lost his long-term battle with cancer in October and then a few weeks later, in December, Cllr. Parry also passed away.

Conservative Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr. Jeff Summers, paid tribute to both men saying:
“Both Chris and William were real gentlemen; Chris with his determination and courage to fight for what he believed in and William with his gentle patience and resolute nature. They are both missed very much by their colleagues on the Council.”
The Conservative Group on the Council wanted to ensure a memorial to the two councillors was in a public place. It was agreed that benches close to the Guildhall would be a fitting location and following consultation with the families two benches were identified near Next and a form of wording agreed for the plaques. Cllr. Giles McNeill, who was Agent for both men in their recent election campaigns said:
“I cannot think of a better site, nor a more fitting tribute to William and Chris. Both men were very different characters. I had the enormous privilege of knowing both of them, helping them with their re-election campaigns in recent years. We are diminished by their loss, but strengthened by their memory.”

Monday, 18 August 2014

County Council Leader Slams Independent West Lindsey Councillor as 'Ignorant'

Conservative Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr. Martin Hill OBE has had to intervene and write a letter to the Lincolnshire Echo following comments made by an Independent West Lindsey district councllor, describing them as 'ridiculous and completely false'.
Two weeks ago, Cllr Chris Darcel made a number of claims that were so far-fetched they seemed unworthy of being answered. 
However, given that these claims were then repeated in last week's paper [The Lincolnshire Echo], I feel it's important that the record is set straight. 
Over the last few years the county council has had to take bold action to help put right the nation's finances, left in such a disastrous state by the previous Labour government.
Unlike some, we refused to bury our heads in the sand. We pushed ourselves to find new ways of doing things, finding savings of around £150m while protecting the vital services that our residents rely on.
And we have done this in an open and transparent manner, with the vast majority of decisions taken in public and all our accounts and committee records published online for all to see.
We also make sure we give people ample opportunity to voice their views, a recent example being our three-month consultation on local library services, which received hundreds of responses.
And by getting the public involved we were left in the enviable position of having a plan that not only saved money but extended services too. 
Unfortunately, we have now been asked to reconsider our decision and hold further discussions with a not-for-profit company that is interested in running services.
I would also like to underline the council's commitment to building the Lincoln Eastern Bypass.
Major projects like this are complicated and inevitably bring challenges.
We are now making a small adjustment to our design so we can address the planning inspector's concerns. 
Let me be clear though – we will build an eastern bypass, and this will not only relieve congestion by improving traffic flow in the city, but will have a tremendously positive impact on economic prosperity for the county as a whole. 
The points Cllr Darcel raised about the county's new Energy from Waste Facility were ridiculous and completely false. 
A full technical assessment took place to identify the best option for Lincolnshire, and the county council's officers negotiated a very good deal.  Far from wasting money, the contract has saved taxpayers £30 million over the next 25 years.
I'm afraid Cllr Darcel is simply ignorant of the facts both in respect to the alternative ways of dealing with waste, and with regards to the finance arrangements. We have tried to correct him on numerous occasions but, sadly, he refuses to accept when he's wrong. 
By being sensible with our finances and living within our means, we have successfully navigated perhaps the most challenging years local government has seen. 
Simply put, thanks to our efforts and those of our colleagues around the country, the nation is now in a far better position, with the economy starting to look far healthier.
Cllr. Martin HillConservative Leader of Lincolnshire County Council

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Victoria Atkins Chosen as Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Louth and Horncastle

Local people from the Louth and Horncastle constituency have chosen the next Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for their area in an open primary.

The fresh face of Mrs. Victoria Atkins has emerged triumphant from a hard fought primary battle and will replace long-serving parliamentarian, Sir Peter Tapsell, who is retiring at the 2015 general election.

Spilsby's Franklin Hall was the venue where three rounds of voting eliminated James Browne, Sarah Macken and Kelly Smith. Mrs. Atkins said:
"I am really excited and feel very honoured to be chosen as the Conservative candidate. I will take it a step at a time and look forward to learning from Sir Peter as well as doing things my own way.
"The three main concerns of local people are housing development, wind farms and flooding and my role is to continue Sir Peter's campaign on these issues and making sure we build on the good work of local councils."
Mrs. Atkins is married to her husband Paul and has a son Monty. She specialises in fraud and criminal regulatory work, with a practice in serious, complex crime.

Each candidate was interviewed and then subjected to a questions and answers session. A ballot was then conducted. The winner requiring fifty percent support to be selected. A number of ballots were held and if no candidate secured fifty percent support then the candidate with the least support was eliminated and another round of balloting conducted.
Chairman of the Louth and Horncastle Conservative Association, Mr. David Andrews, was pleased with Mrs. Atkins' selections, saying:
"We are very happy. All four would have been excellent candidates but Victoria is very good. She has a lot of hard work to do but we are more than confident she will be able to do it."

Friday, 25 July 2014

New Website

For up to date information on the activities of Cllr. Giles McNeill who represents the Nettleham Ward on West Lindsey District Council please visit: 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tragic Deaths of Two Individuals at Cherry Willingham Level Crossing

Two people have been killed after being struck by a freight train at a level crossing in Cherry Willingham.

The pair died after being hit by a freight train at the Cherry Willingham level crossing just before noon today.

The train is understood to have been heading to Immingham Docks.

British Transport Police said the incident, at Croft Lane in the village of Cherry Willingham, was reported at 11.57am and Lincolnshire Police and East Midlands Ambulance staff also attended.

East Midlands Ambulance Service attended but both people involved in the accident were pronounced dead at the scene.

A British Transport Police spokesman said:
 "Both people have been pronounced dead at the scene. Officers are now working to establish the full circumstances of the incident, which is currently being treated as non-suspicious. 
"The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has been informed."
A spokesman for Cherry Willingham Community School, close to the crossing, said:
"We have been told by the British Transport Police that we can't send children who live in the village home that way, and we have told all parents as much as we can."
Ms Annette Atkinson, a shop worker at Maddison's News in Cherry Willingham said:
"Several customers have been in saying they heard a train sounding its horn for a long time prior to this. 
"We heard the train hit a person at Green Lane, but took until Croft Lane to stop." 
Sir Edward Leigh MP for Gainsborough said:
"It is with shock and deep sadness that I have learnt of these tragic deaths today, in Cherry Willingham. Words will never adequately express the grief that will be experienced by the friends and family; a grief shared by the residents of Cherry Willingham and our wider community. I am confident that those in need of support at this terrible time will find it and that answers will be forthcoming to determine what has gone so tragically wrong. My thoughts are with the family, friends and community at this time."

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cllr. Giles McNeill Supports Nettleham Cricket Club

 Nettleham Cricket Club has been bowled over thanks to funding batted over to them.
Junior Members of Nettleham Cricket Club
with Cllr. Giles McNeill who represents the
Nettleham ward.
Cllr. Giles McNeill donated £750 from his Councillor Initiative Fund to resurface the club's worm areas of carpet and practice nets.
Players aged from six to sixty will benefit from the refurbishment, which should keep the club in the Lincolnshire League Premier Division.
The Councillor Initiative Fund is available to all 37 district councillors, who have been allocated £4,000 each to spend over two years on projects in their ward. In March the Council announced an extra £37,000 for the fund in the budget - meaning each councillor will get an extra £1,000 to support community projects.
Cllr. McNeill, who was thrilled to be able to give his support, said:
"I am really pleased to help with the overhaul of the practice nets at Mulsanne Park in Nettleham.
"I am sure they will be well used and help local cricket continue to flourish."
A senior member of the Club, Mr. David Wheatley, added:
"We are very appreciative of this generous assistance which will give new life to the areas as they are used continuously throughout the summer months.
"The wear on the carpets was significant, so we are delighted we have been able to repair the worst areas. It means we'll get several more years life before they have to be fully replaced."
If you are interested in getting involved with Nettleham Cricket Club, telephone Lousie Bromfield on 07526 539072 for more information.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Lincoln Council Elections 2014: UKIP Exceed Expectations But Fail To Win Any Seats

The overall result of Lincoln's City Council's 2014 local elections have been a reassuringly predictable affair. However the detail shows that the UK Independence Party performed better than expected, whilst Labour and the Conservatives both underperformed. 

There were only one set of local elections taking place in Lincolnshire yesterday. Lincoln City Council is the only authority in the county that still retains the system of electing it's members by 'thirds' - the process where each year one third of the seats are elected and in the fourth year elections take place for Lincolnshire County Council.
Click on the table above to enlarge.
The table above shows the predicted result for each party, in grey, based on a standard uniform swing calculation generated using data from ukpollingrport.co.uk on 5th May 2014. The second column for each party shows the actual result and the third column the difference between the two.

Lincoln is a key battleground in the coming General Election between Conservative incumbent Karl McCartney MP and Labour's Lucy Rigby who have been slogging it out for over two years now and have a year ahead of them of an increasingly bitter rivalry.

The net effect of the elections to Lincoln City Council was a loss of two seats by the Conservatives to Labour in the Birchwood and Minster wards. This means that the council now consists of 27 Labour members and 6 Conservatives.

The UK Independence Party failed to make any gains, despite polling a respectable 23.33%. This will be a substantive disappointment for them for two reasons; firstly that with such a healthy share of the vote they were not rewarded with any representation; and secondly that their share of the vote is down slightly on the local elections in Lincoln last year to Lincolnshire County Council.

Labour, despite success in securing new members on the council, have nothing to be happy about in terms of their share of the vote. Their share of the vote is down 2.13 percentage points on last year's county elections in the city and 12.62 percentage points on the comparable local elections of 2012. Since the 2010 local elections this would mean that Labour has only improved their share of the vote in the city by 4.68 percentage points. Given that Karl McCartney MP's majority is 2.32%. It is now possible to say, with some certainty that either could win the seat in 2015. However, on the basis that governing parties usually recover as an election approaches this poor performance by Labour is likely to prove insufficient to ensure Ms Rigby's election. Mr. McCartney will in all likelihood be Lincoln's Member of Parliament for at least the next six years.

It was surely a disappointing night for the Conservatives. Despite campaigning hard they struggled to convert votes into seats. Their share of the vote was up three quarters of a percentage point compared with the previous county elections in 2013. The loss of Cllr. Yvonne Bodger in Minster Ward means that she will not become Mayor of Lincoln for the coming civic year; depriving Lincoln's Conservatives of a significant platform in the run-up to the general election.

The Liberal Democrats performed much better than the prediction; however, this is more likely due to the fact that they are now only getting votes from their most ardent supporters. Nevertheless their share of the vote was down two thirds of a percentage point when compared with last year's county elections, and down 2.20 percentage points compared with the local elections of 2012.

Of the other parties and independent candidates contesting these elections, the Trades Unionists Socialist Against Cuts underperformed and continued to slip in terms of their share of the vote which was down 0.60 percentage point from their hight of 2.42% in 2012. The Greens performed considerably better than expected having fielded candidates for the first time in the city since 2011. The two independent candidates underperformed against the prediction.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Giles McNeill Elected Chairman of West Lindsey’s Governance and Audit Committee

Cllr. Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham Ward on West Lindsey District Council, has been elected to serve as Chairman of the Governance & Audit Committee for the 2014/15 civic year.

During the previous civic year, 2013/14, Cllr. McNeill has served as the Vice-Chairman of the committee. Cllr. Mrs. Sue Rawlins has served as Chairman and will now serve as the Committee’s Vice-Chairman.

The Governance and Audit Committee is responsible for:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Accounts and Audit
  • Regulatory Framework (sometimes known as the Assurance Framework)
  • Ethics and standards

Cllr. McNeill commented on the appointment via twitter, saying:
“I am very proud to have just been elected Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee [at] West Lindsey”
A number of individuals congratulated Cllr. McNeill on twitter, including Cllr. Marc Jones, Executive Member for Finance & Property at Lincolnshire County Council, who tweeted:
“Congrats Giles I’m sure you’ll do a great job”

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Lincolnshire Energy Switch Scheme Available Again

The Lincolnshire Energy Switch scheme is back – so now you could also stand a chance of saving up to £300 on your annual gas and electricity bill.

That’s how much some already stand to save having made the switch first time round. You could join the 1,000 households in Lincolnshire who look set to save an average of £167 on their energy bill.

If you missed out the first time, this is another opportunity to save money on home energy bills through the latest collective Lincolnshire Energy Switch Scheme (LESS).  The scheme is easy to join. Before you register, find your energy bill as you will need your current tariff and energy consumption details. Then visit here and register your details. Alternatively you can call on 01529 301990 between 9:00am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

There is no obligation to switch so there is nothing to lose by registering. Where residents don’t see a saving in their individual offer it means that they are likely to be on a competitive rate already.

Why not also let your family and friends know so they can save money too? Up to five households can register on the same email address so it’s a great opportunity to help out family and friends who don’t have internet access.  Everyone who pays for gas or electricity can register – and potentially save money. Whether you rent your home or own it, whether you are on dual fuel, electric only or have a prepayment meter – everyone is encouraged to register. You don’t even have to live in Lincolnshire as it will be open to anyone in the country, so friends and family can also register, wherever they live, by visiting the same website.

Once the Monday, 9th June, registration deadline has passed energy companies are invited to bid for your combined business.

The lowest tariff will then be offered to residents in a personalised email or letter. Residents will have four weeks to confirm they wish to switch supplier by following the instructions in the offer email or returning a signed form by post. As collective switching schemes become better known they are attracting a mix of the ‘Big Six’ and smaller independent suppliers to make their bids.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, said:

“I would encourage as many people as possible to register with the Lincolnshire Energy Switch Scheme to secure the best possible gas and electricity rates for a community switch here in West Lindsey and across Lincolnshire. The first scheme was successful with 1,000 households switching to better energy deals. 
“We are always keen to look at new ways to help our residents and local businesses reduce their monthly outgoings and this is the start of a process that could help families and individuals suffering fuel poverty. 
“The scheme is open to anyone, so everyone who registers can benefit. Local residents need to be aware that registration closes on Monday, 9th June, so register to switch as soon as possible.”

Friday, 25 April 2014

East Midlands Conservatives Launch European Parliamentary Campaign in Lincoln

The Conservatives' launched their East Midlands European Parliamentary Campaign today in Lincoln. 

Grant Shapps MP, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, joined the party's has five candidates, Emma McClarkin MEP, Andrew Lewer, Rupert Matthews, Stephen Castens and Brendan Clarke-Smith who are looking for victory in the election on Thurdsay, 22nd May 2014.  Also in attendance were several of the county's Members of Parliament - Sir Edward Leigh MP (Gainsborough), Karl McCartney MP (Lincoln) as well as Mark Simmonds MP (Boston & Skegness); together with local councillors and activists.

Mr. Shapps said that only by voting Conservative can people take part in a referendum on Britain’s place in Europe.
“Most people did not get a say in the last referendum on Europe in the 70s, which people thought was about joining the Common Market. It is time to give people a proper say. 
“A referendum means voting Conservative.”
Emma McClarkin MEP, commenting on the rise of UK Independence Party, said:
“We are fighting this election every step of the way. The reality is UKIP has no MPs, no power and no plans for the future.”

The press launch was well attended by numerous local media outlets. Despite the damp weather a large body of candidates and activists headed from the Lincoln Hotel on Eastgate, to Castle Square and then down Steep Hill, on to the High Street, in what was described by one organiser as a 'Mob-Canvass'.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sir Edward Leigh MP Protests Library Cuts

Sir Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has protested the scale of cuts to libraries in Lincolnshire. Writing to Lincolnshire County Council, the MP called local libraries “an absolutely vital local resource” and said they “inculcate in the young a sense of the adventure of learning and provide access to new avenues of knowledge for them to explore”.
“No one disagrees with the need for savings to be found and for cuts to be made.
“But it is necessary we in Lincolnshire think about the long term. If we close too many libraries now we are ending a long and organic tradition that has been cultivated for generations. When prosperity returns, it will be much more difficult to restart these libraries and the services they provided, especially if property is sold off to become residential or commercial units.
“I’m sure an analysis of the long-term costs and benefits would show that it would be immensely wiser to make cuts elsewhere in budget and keep as many of these libraries open as possible rather than to cut off innumerable future generations from the immeasurable benefits of a local library.”
Sir Edward also pointed out that the County Council could be more pro-active in finding solutions for libraries to remain open, citing the case of Nettleham where the parish council have sought a minimum five-year lease in exchange for operating their local library, but have been turned down.
“Nettleham Parish Council are being perfectly reasonable in their demands, and they deserve a much more favourable reaction from the County Council.”
The Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign has sought judicial review from the High Court regarding the County Council’s libraries plan.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, Conservative (Nettleham Ward), and a member of Nettleham Parish Council, said:
“I welcome Sir Edward's intervention. The way the Parish Council and the local community are being treated by Lincolnshire County Council is not what I would expect. Cllr. Nick Worth, who is the portfolio holder at Lincolnshire County Council with responsibilities for the library service, should re-consider his intransigent position. Surely we both want the same thing. Nettleham Library to remain open, run by community volunteers.”

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Nettleham Library Will Not Be Volunteer-Run By Parish Council

Following Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to proceed with its implementation of library closures, Nettleham Parish Council has now been left with no alternative but to withdraw its Expression of Interest in running a community-led library in Nettleham. 

Nettleham Parish Council had decided, in principle, at an extraordinary parish council meeting held on Wednesday, 19th March 2014, to submit a business plan to operate a community-led library in the village; this being conditional upon Lincolnshire County Council agreeing to an extension of the time in which to do so, renegotiation of section 2.2 of the Heads of Terms (the agreement between the county and parish councils), and finally the outcome of the judicial review.

A spokesman for Nettleham Parish Council said:
“The Parish Council believes that it has made every effort to bring about the establishing of a Community Library in the village but sadly the intransigence of the county council to negotiate a more realistic lease agreement has made this impossible. 
“Lincolnshire County Council would not agree to a minimum five year lease on the existing building, insisting that its Model Heads of Terms are applied allowing it to break the lease arrangement at any time.”
Nettleham Parish Council did not feel it could invest the time and money into this venture under such conditions and expressed appreciation to the ninety residents who had come forward to volunteer their services in an effort save this vital community asset.

The spokesman continued:
“The Parish Council is also grateful to County Councillor Jackie Brockway for her considerable mediating efforts with Lincolnshire and hopes it is not too late for any other interested parties to step in.”
The Chairman of the Parish Council Terry Williams added:
“This is an extremely disappointing outcome, but the Parish Council was left with no choice in the matter due to the insistence of the County Council on the inclusion of a condition in the Lease of the Building that meant they could terminate the arrangements at the drop of a hat.”
West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, Cllr. Giles McNeill, commented:
“It is absurd that Netteham's library will almost certainly close despite Nettleham Parish Council and over ninety local volunteers having come forward to continue to operate a local library.
“Nettleham Parish Council requested a slight extension in order to put together the business plan, given the delays on the part of the county council this seemed a reasonable request. The business plan is important because it gives the county council assurance the community-led library will be successfully delivered; a request was also made to reconsider part of the agreement between the parties.
 “Nettleham Parish Council has had no option but to withdraw from the process, leaving local residents with an uncertain future for the library in the village.”
Lincolnshire County Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member with responsibilities for Library Services, defended the county council's position saying:
"We offered the parish council a 10-year lease on the current library building. However, as is standard practice, this includes a clause allowing us to break the lease if the community hub is underperforming. 
"This is an important clause that's needed to ensure the public receive a quality service. 
"We thank the parish council for their efforts, and we will now focus on working with Lincolnshire Co-operative who have submitted a business plan for Nettleham."
In Nettleham, a bid from a community group has also been withdrawn, but Lincolnshire Co-operative remains in the running.

A total of thirty libraries are threatened with closure following the decision of Lincolnshire County Council's Executive who have decided to make cuts of £1.7 million to the Library budget by removing professional staff.

The move has been criticised by campaigners who lobbied unsuccessfully for the council to drop the proposals, and which are now subject to a judicial review. The county council has proceeded with the cuts despite receiving a petition against the closures which gained more than 23,000 signatures.

Communities across Lincolnshire provided thirty firm bids to run the libraries as 'community hubs'.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Budget Provides Relief for Workers, Savers, and Drinkers

Giles McNeill, Conservative West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, has welcomed a the announcements in the 2014 budget statement today which will save money for local residents.

George Osbourne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Earners will find the personal tax allowance will rise to £10,500 from April 2015, cutting taxes for 25 million people and taking an additional 290,000 people out of paying income tax altogether. The rises in the personal allowance since 2010, implemented by the Coalition Government, mean that by April next year a typical, basic rate, taxpayer will be paying £805 less in tax than they would have been, with 3,200,000 people taken out of income tax altogether. The 2014 Budget measures do not result in any additional higher rate taxpayers. The full benefit will be passed on to higher rate taxpayers – everyone earning up to £100,000 will gain equally and will pay less tax because of this tax cut.

Meanwhile, savers will benefit from merging the cash ISA and stocks & shares ISA into a single New ISA with an annual limit of £15,000. Over 400,000 ISA holders in the East Midlands could benefit from the New ISA. Savers will also be glad to hear the ten pence starting rate of tax for savings income will be eliminated and, this zero rate will be extended to the first £5,000 of savings income, benefiting 1.5 million low-income savers.

In the biggest reform of pensions taxation in a century, the Chancellor announced that no one would be forced to buy an annuity if they don’t want to and there will be no punitive fifty per cent tax rate if you try and take more than your tax free lump sum.

Drinkers will find savings as the tax on beer will be cut by a penny a pint, helping local pubs. Duties on Scotch whisky and other spirits will be frozen, as will duty on ordinary cider. The duty escalator for wine, meanwhile, has been abolished. Cllr. McNeill said:
"The budget contains real measures that are designed to help people across the country with their cost of living. Those in work will take home more of their pay, with the increase in the personal allowance. Those who save will find their hard-erned savings will be taxed less. The duty paid on beer has been cut by a penny on the pint for the second year running.  
"Whilst the economic situation is beginning to show real signs of improvement, the parlous state of the nation's finances - the legacy of the last Labour Government - mean that the Chancellor has and will continue to make the difficult decisions which benefit hard-working people across Britain and contribute to the long-term economic viability."

Friday, 14 March 2014

More Communities Offered Access to Super-fast Broadband

As more of Conservative-led West Lindsey District Council’s services being accessed online, such as paying for services and reporting issues – improving access to the internet is important.

The rural nature of the district means internet provision is sometimes patchy and limits resident’s access. Last year, the council teamed up with Quickline Communications to install wireless internet in thirty community buildings, known as hubs. Following the successful take up of the scheme, a new deal has been signed with the company to extend provision.

Conservative Deputy Leader of the West Lindsey, Cllr. Mrs. Anne Welburn said:
“Accessing services online is becoming more and more part of our everyday expectations. A lot of us already do internet banking and pay our bills online. Now we as a council want to put customers at the heart of our services and give access online for those customers that want to use it. Extending the wi-fi provision will reduce the number of ‘notspots’ and open up online services to more people.”
Mrs. Manjeet Gill, Chief Executive of the Council commented:
“We have been working to improve communications for our residents and I am delighted that the second phase of the scheme can now get underway.
“To compliment this we are also making improvements to our web site, including new electronic forms to make it quicker and easier for residents to access services online.”
Mr. Steve Jagger, Managing Director of Quickline said:
“Village halls provide a community hub of activity for rural communities and it is fantastic the council has invested additional funds to improve communications. I am delighted that we are able to offer wireless broadband which can reach locations that traditional telecoms are unable to reach.”
District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, Cllr. Giles McNeill welcome the news saying:
“I know that in Nettleham, the Village Hall Committee are eager to access the benefits that this scheme should provide. Giving local residents high speed internet at a key community venue, like the Village Hall, can be an important step to ensure that our community is digitally inclusive.”
Other initiatives are being explored, and local businesses are urged to contact Steve Bolan on 01427 676551 for more information. For further information on Quickline, call 01482 247365 or visit www.quickline.co.uk.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Nettleham Welcomes Duke of Kent to Open Bishop's Palace Site

Nettleham welcomed His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent today where he officially opened the Bishop's Palace Site and planted an English oak to commemorate the occasion.

® Stuart Twitchett, WLDC
The Duke arrived in the village by helicopter, at around half past ten, at the Police Headquarters, Deepdale Lane and was welcomed by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Mr. Tony Worth and his wife, Jenny. They departed by car for Nettleham Parish Council at the Old School, Mill Hill.

Arriving at the Old School the Lord Lieutenant presented the Chairman of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr. Mrs. Irmgard Parrott and Mr. Len Parrott, the Chairman's Consort, the Police & Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick, the Chief Constable Neil Rhodes and the Chairman of the Parish Council, Cllr. Terry Williams and Mrs. Kathleen Williams, the Chairman's consort.

® Stuart Twitchett, WLDC
The Duke was escorted into the Large Hall of the Old School by Cllr. Williams and was introduced to Cllr. John Evans who has been the Lead on the Bishop's Palace Heritage Project.  Cllr. Evans gave an explanation of the project and introduced a number of key individuals to the Duke. Including:
  • Mrs. Pat Gregory - Founder Member of Nettleham Heritage Association
  • Mr. Chris Williams - Chairman, Nettleham Woodland Trust
  • Mr. David Gibbons - Headteacher, Nettleham Junior School
  • Mr. Nigel Kingston - Editor of Nettleham News; and
  • Miss Chrissie Clayton - Orchard Specialist
A number of individuals from support organisations who have provided assistance to the project were also presented, they included:
  • Ms Liz Bates - Director of Heritage Lincolnshire
  • Mr. David Start - Director (Retired) of Heritage Lincolnshire
  • Ms Mary Hurst - WREN
  • Mr. Barry Billingham - Cory Trust
Also in attendance were:
  • West Lindsey District and Parish Councillor Giles McNeill
  • Parish Councillor Mrs. Janice Clayton, Vice Chairman of Nettleham Parish Council
  • Parish Councillor John Hill
  • Parish Councillor Joe Siddall
  • Parish Councillor Mrs. Susan Harland
  • Parish Councillor Allan Bonney
© 2014 Creation Media
A little after eleven o'clock His Royal Highness was escorted to the Bishop's Palace Site by Councillors Evans and Williams and given further information about the project, walking through the parish cemetery, into the newly named Swathe and through into the site where the Duke was invited to plant a commemorative English Oak by Mr. Rod Newborough, a forestry expert. There were cheers, applause and frenetic waving of flags by local school children.

At a quarter past eleven the Duke formally cut a ribbon on the ceremonial gateway into the main field of the Bishop's Palace Site and officially opened the site. Cllr. Williams proposed a vote of thanks.
© 2014 Nettleham News 

The tour continued into the Bishop's Palace Site into the schedule Ancient Monument with an explanation of the visible archaeological features.

Around half past eleven the Royal Party departed the village from in front of the White Hart public house and Methodist chapel for their next engagement.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

No Council Tax Increase in West Lindsey

West Lindsey District Council has announced it will not increase its share of the Council Tax for 2014/15.
The freeze was announced in the council’s budget report, submitted to council on Monday, March 3, which also included plans for more than £2 million investment towards major projects. Leader of the council, Cllr. Jeff Summers said:
“We know times are hard for many people so we are delighted to be able to freeze Council Tax protecting residents from increased bills.”
The decision means that from April, residents will continue to pay the 2013/14 rate, meaning council tax has been frozen in three out of four y
Cllr. Jeff Summers, Conservative Leader
 of West Lindsey District Council
ears. Cllr. Summers added:
“The council’s entrepreneurial approach is being used to counter the continuing reductions in government grant with income generation and cost reduction offsetting the impact and allowing the council to freeze council tax. We continue to generate more income to avoid tax increases and are working hard to support communities and regenerate the district.
“We are also very pleased to be able to invest in major projects that we believe will help the district grow and prosper including rural transport, community and business grants and increasing housing availability.”

Those projects include:
  • £250,000 grant funding available to invest in communities, providing finance in a way that helps people to help themselves
  • £37,000 to support the Councillor Initiative Fund, which has already helped thousands of projects across the district
  • £300,000 to develop a solution to rural transport connectivity
  • £1.1m investment to return empty homes back into use
  • £640,000 business relocation fund and commercial grant schemes to provide an attractive incentive to encourage business growth
It has also pledged its support to a new flooding relief scheme. It will offer 100% Council Tax exemption for up to one year, to support residents affected by flooding.

The council managed to find £1million of savings at a time when the budget allocation from central government is drastically reducing each year. However, the council is not complacent as it still needs to find £2million over the next two years to balance the budget. Cllr. Summers added:
“We recognise it is a testing time for public services generally but we are focusing on getting the job done. This means doing more of what local people value and protecting frontline services as we said we would.
“This budget is about growth and investment, at a time when others around us are looking at reducing, cutting and stopping, but we recognise this is key to our future. We will continue to drive forward efficiency plans and streamline services to deliver what our customers value”

Friday, 28 February 2014

Conservatives Triumph in By-Election Contest

Local Conservatives have celebrated success in a by-election held on Thursday, 27th February 2014 for a seat on West Lindsey District Council in the Scotter Ward.
Conservative Councillor. Mrs. Pat Mewis, was elected to the district council in the contest, called following the sad and untimely death of Cllr. William Parry, against Liberal Democrat challenger Keith Panter.

Conservative Party Agent, Giles McNeill said:
Above: (Left to Right) Edward Rouse, Stephanie Rouse,
Richard Butroid, Pat Mewis, Brenda Ricahrdson, Roy Mewis
Giles McNeill and Fiona De La Cour
"This is a great victory for the Conservative Party, following a disappointing result in the previous by-election here at the end of 2013. It is clear to me that whilst the Conservative Party has demostrated that we listen to what local residents are saying and act on that information the Liberal Democrats don't really care about what local people want."
The Conservatives were determined not to replicate the mistake of the previous by-election in Scotter in December 2013 and selected a local Scotter resident, who runs a bed & breakfast in the centre of Scotter and has been involved with the local tourism board. The Liberal Democrats failed to learn the clear message of the previous by-elections which was a resounding indication that local people want local candidates for local elections. The by-election was a straight fight between the two, and there was much surprise that the UK Independence Party did not field a candidate, perhaps suggesting that they are on the wane.

The result of the Scotter Ward of West Lindsey District Council contest can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Duke of Kent to Open Bishop's Palace Site

Nettleham will welcome His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who will officially open the new heritage amenity of The Bishop's Palace on Wednesday, 11th March 2014.

The site consists of an original palace of the Bishops of Lincoln and covers an area of over three hectares. The sites use dates back over one thousand years when it was originally the Manor of Nettleham, owned by Queen Edith, wife of King Edward ‘the Confessor’.

Three centuries later, in February 1301, a document signed by King Edward I whilst staying at Nettleham, proclaimed that his son Edward of Caernarvon (later Edward II), would be the first English Prince of Wales in this Lincolnshire village.

The site is an ancient scheduled monument, it has been leased by Nettleham Parish Council, from the Church Commissioners, and had been used as a paddock for many years.

District Councillor, Cllr. Giles McNeill said:
"I am very much looking forward to the Duke's visit. I know that a lot of local people, together with the Parish Council, and the support of English Heritage and other partners, have all put a lot of time, effort and energy in to this project. It is fitting that such an historically important site is being opened up for public access and moreover that it is being opened, officially, by His Royal Highness.
The site now comprises a heritage area (the Scheduled Ancient Monument) with a discovery trail and interpretation panels. In addition, adjacent to the scheduled area, a new area (Bishop’s Meadow) has been created with wild-flower meadowland, a woodland of native species, a heritage orchard and dry stone wall reconstruction.

The site is situated close to Nettleham C of E Junior School which will be undertaking a series of history-related projects on the meadow area.

During the preparation of the Nettleham Parish Plan in 2007, public consultation identified the site as being one which should be developed into a heritage amenity for all to enjoy. The Parish Council approved the project in 2010, the Church Commissioners, who own the site, were contacted and a lease was agreed in 2012.

Funding for the project was obtained from Heritage Lottery Fund, WREN and Cory Trust for various aspects of the project. Several local organisations are involved in the project, including Nettleham Parish Council, Nettleham Heritage Association, Nettleham Woodland Trust, Nettleham C of E Junior School and the local village quarterly publication, Nettleham News.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Power Cuts and No Running Water Cause Concern

Residents in Nettleham, Welton and Scampton were without a water supply for several hours last night, with intermittent power cuts also affecting the area, the Lincolnshire Echo reports. 

Anglian Water informed residents that the cuts, which struck local villages around six o'clock last night, following a brief interruption in the power supply, were caused by a pump that had failed in the area.

Mrs. Karen Falloon, noticed the cuts when she returned from work in Lincoln. She said:
“I got back from work and I noticed that the phone had reset.
“My husband then told me that the power had cut for five minutes. An hour after the cut I noticed that the cold water had stopped running, and it didn’t start until eleven thirty.”
“It can cause sanitary issues. Almost half of Nettleham’s residents are retired people, which is the biggest problem.”
Another local, described how she got into a bath of scolding water, due to being unaware that she was without cold water. She said: 
“I suffer from a bad back so I usually have a warm bath in the evening. 
“Last night I took my pills and there was no cold water, I didn’t realise until I got in. It was also a lot of water that’s gone to waste.”
She praised Anglian Water for providing advice and contacting affected residents in the area to inform them of the problem. She added:
“I received a call from Anglian Water to say that the cause was a broken pump and that it would be back by 11.30pm. 
“Anglian Water were very good in dealing with it. I checked with my next door neighbour and they were also contacted.”
West Lindsey District Councillor, Cllr. Giles McNeill said:
“Since the developments in the area, there have been a few power cuts. You’d expect the infrastructure to be more resilient. 
“I don’t want it to have to happen again as it is quite worrying when you don’t have a running supply of water for a few hours. 
“I represent a lot of the elderly and the vulnerable in the village and to be without power and water can cause great anxiety. We need our utilities to be resilient, robust and reliable.”