Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year's Message

I would like to wish all the people of Grange-de-Lings, Nettleham and Riseholme, the people that I am pleased to represent on West Lindsey District Council, my best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2016.

Edinburgh, Scotland
In January I was pleased to represent the district council at the Association of Public Service Excellence's (APSE) Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh. Despite having written my dissertation at university on devolution of the Scottish Parliament, this was my first visit to Scotland, and post the independence referendum of the preceding autumn, it was with a renewed sense of pride that I arrived in the capitol of this part of the United Kingdom.

By February the processes for both local and general elections were well underway. Having been appointed by Sir Edward Leigh and the Gainsborough Constituency Conservative Association to be Agent for their campaigns I found myself particularly busy running a parliamentary campaign, and thrity-seven district council candidates - including myself - in elections. Fortunately the alignment of general and district elections being held on the same day will not happen again until 2035.

Above: Giles McNeill enters the polling
 station at the Old School, Mill Hill,
It was, on a personal level, my highlight of the year that I was re-elected as a district councillor. I was proud to top the poll with 54.5% of those who voted backing me. It was the first time that a Conservative had topped a poll in a district council, local election for our area since 1979. I am particularly grateful to so many people who supported me, helping me secure re-election as one of the Nettleham ward's two district councillors. I will continue to work hard for all residents.

Local government continues to face a tough financial settlement with central government and your local councillors are very much on the front-line. West Lindsey is well placed to adapt to the changes that reducing monies from central government will necessitate. But it means that we are having to make genuinely difficult choices about what services stay and what services have to go. I do not envy colleagues who are less well placed. County Councillors are consistently and continually criticised for cutting services; yet it is a triumph, albeit not necessarily one of their own making, that there will be more libraries open in Lincolnshire, for longer periods, than three years ago. Nevertheless with responsibilities to an ageing population the county council must choose to provide services to the vulnerable and elderly, fulfilling statutory responsibilities.

I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to continue my service as Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee by the Council's Leader, Cllr. Jeff Summers and also to continue in the role as the administration's Chief Whip.

In October I had the good fortune to have lunch with the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, and we spoke in congratulatory tones on the successes of the election campaign.

Above: (Left to Right) Nettleham Parish
Councillors Joe Siddall, John Evans and
Terry Williams present the Nettleham
Neighbourhood Plan to West Lindsey
District Councillors Steve England and
Giles McNeill.
I was pleased with the progress that has been made in tackling issues in the district council's planning department. As a member of the Planning Committee and a Nettleham Parish Councillor I have been engaged in and followed the process of the emerging Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan. On Thursday, 28th January 2016 local residents will be able to have their say on the plan in a referendum. Then in May we will once again be invited to go to the polling stations to vote in elections for the county's Police and Crime Commissioner. I am certain that participation will be higher than the paltry 15.3% achieved in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. Decisions are made by those who show up, so I would encourage everyone to go and vote and if circumstances require I would urge you to consider if obtaining a postal vote is the right thing for you. I am backing Marc Jones for the post as he has the passion and vision to really move Lincolnshire Police forward, unlike the lack-lustre, poor performance of the current incumbent, widely expected to retire at the election.

In 2016 I hope we can renew our commitment to make our communities better, putting aside partisan tendencies, and working with one another on the many things we agree upon. For each and all I offer my sincere wish for health, prosperity and happiness.

Giles McNeill
Working hard for the Nettleham Ward