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.