August: Fairer Funding for Lincolnshire
FAIRER FUNDING FOR LINCOLNSHIRE
Lincolnshire is one of the poorest funded Councils in the Country. The government has consistently given us less per head than urban areas, taking us for granted. Not helping itself, the Council has also consistently set one of the lowest levels of council tax in the country and concentrated on reducing services instead. At the same time, we see a drive for 100,000 more dwellings by 2036 and more demand on diminishing services.
In my national role, as Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association I and colleagues spoke to ministers about the difficulties of rural areas like ours. Lincolnshire, being one of the most sparsely populated, got one of the highest two year “extras” for rural funding. Making the case again last year, we got an extra £2bn for adult care. This year, the government purse strings seem ever tighter, partly as we compete with Northern Ireland.
The government had promised to return the all our business rates, but this was notably missing from the Queen’s Speech. Lincolnshire is on its own, it seems.
Hence the increased call for a better distribution of what funding there is – called our fairer funding campaign – started by the Lincolnshire Independents a few years ago, but only now being firmly adopted by the whole Council.
Lincolnshire Independents’ other campaign, now becoming the more important, is to seek alternative sources of funding. If houses are going to be built, then let’s have the profit kept in the local public purse. NKDC has now started “Lafford Homes”, which operates commercially, but all profit and risk belongs to us. Work has started at Steam Court, off Station Road, North Hykeham, building 27 new flats, ready in November. www.laffordhomes.co.uk
Some Councils have bought hotels, run lotteries or let business parks and town centres. The Councils’ competitive edge is access to cheaper capital funding and the ability to work at a lower profit margin, since we are using funds to help drive the economy, one of our core functions.
LOCAL PLAN – gravel extraction and waste sites
The locations of new quarry extensions and waste disposal sites are now defined in the Minerals and Waste Plan on the County Council website. Appendix 10 includes “preferred” gravel extraction sites near Norton Disney and Swinderby Airfield from Witham St Hughs to the A46. www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/mineralsandwaste SLCD-025 Site and Areas Report Appendix 10 – Preferred Mineral Sites. The Inspector has heard the Inquiry and agreed it without modification.
VIKING POWER FROM DENMARK
A new electricity hook-up under the sea from Denmark to the Bicker Fen is about to seek planning permission in Lincolnshire. It is 760km long and arrives on our shores just south of Sandilands by the Golf course. A 100m wide strip of works carries DC current up to 2m under our soils to a station SE of Heckington and Helpringham, crossing the A17 and the railway the other side of Heckington. Putting two opposing wires alongside is expected to mitigate the electro-magnetic fields down to “little more than a fridge magnet”, we were told. They say it is a profitable business project by National Grid and Danish Energie, not affected by Brexit. www.viking-link.com and the maps are at www.viking-link.com/the-project/onshore-work/ 0800 731 0561
They may have a struggle keeping the power cables covered as our beach is currently constantly replenished by sand dredging out at sea. Marram grass has been planted to try and hold the sand in place. This apparently never-ending activity is expensive and current discussions on flood defence include returning to groins and all the rock pools that created, enhancing marine diversity.
Medieval jousts on August 5/6 and outlaws on 19/20 provide great excitement while some of the family linger over the Domesday Book 1086, Magna Carta 1215 and Charter of the Forest 1217. Three momentous original documents cover almost a thousand years and the oldest looks as good as the day it was written. The short film show is excellent, too. Well worth a visit before September 3rd. Booking on line gives you 10% off. www.lincolncastle.com Linked is an amazing exhibition of a thousand years of history at the Collection.
THE FUTURE OF OUR HERITAGE
Heritage in Lincolnshire is a great flagship on which rests our sense of identity and pride in place. £22m was spent improving the castle, so that it can now house big events and precious documents. The Collection and Usher Gallery have also attracted funds into the County. Our heritage assets also include the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Gainsborough Old Hall, the museum of Lincolnshire Life, Discover Stamford, the Archives and Windmills.
Should the Council keep them and build them as business assets, or give control to others for immediate cash savings?
I have volunteered to be on the working group to examine the options.
SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Navenby Bowls Club
With one of the largest village greens in the country, in top condition, Navenby is about to host its annual village Bowls Festival, probably the largest in England. Playing Wednesday to Sunday 23rd to 27th August for over £1000 in prize money, will be single players, pairs or triples. Sponsored by Odling Bros. Entry forms from Jean Goodman 01522 813658.
Parkinson Support Group
I attended a fund-raiser talk on the Arctic in Metheringham and was very impressed with the variety of support given by this local group. National helpline: 0808 800 0303 Contact Paula Justham 01427 788725 or Neville Wright 07941 496576 firstname.lastname@example.org
Boundary Lane, North Hykeham, Mushroom Farm
A member of the planning committee at Lincolnshire County Council, I spoke against the expansion of the waste site to start Asbestos treatment. Planning is supposed to be exactly that, which is why we have a Local plan. This increased activity is in the midst of the area planned for housing. The waste site is no longer in the right place. Sadly, it seemed the new local plan policies were hard for some to grasp and permission was given. There is an active group working to challenge the decision.
Funding for rural projects
European funding for improving rural economies. www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/funding
Overgrown Trees, Lights and Fly-tipping
On the highway, overgrown trees or obscured or broken lights can be reported as a highway issue. Fly-tipping is still a problem and a District Council responsibility. Phone 01529 414155 or I find www.fixmystreet.com effective. Evidence is collected and prosecutions do follow, so if you see illegal activity, please report it, to the District Council and to the police.