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'.