New Government, new cash
Todays’ announcement of over £2bn for Brexit delivery is very welcome and follows hot on the heels of my meeting with our new minister, the Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP (Newark) on Wednesday and we have shared a platform at rallies in defence of Grantham Hospital. The minister was appointed Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on July 24th and took the trouble to meet leading councillors from across the UK in his first week.
Our Brexit delivery board has been working with ministers and senior civil servants since the referendum and has clearly identified measures needed to mitigate effects of a possible “no deal Brexit” on local government services and our residents and to take advantage of any opportunities. Councils are the front line responsible for delivering services and supporting economic development.
Millie’s Fund for Ocean Clean-up
It is six months since we sadly lost Millie outside the Sir William Robertson School in Welbourn. She is sadly missed. A fund has been set up in her name for something she cared passionately about, cleaning up the oceans. You can contribute on the link on my facebook page.
Road Safety and Highways
Lincolnshire is one of the two worst counties for serious road accidents The Parish Councils and I are working hard to get the improvements we need, with some success, and much more to do. Thank you for your petitions in support.
I worked hard with ministers last year successfully getting a substantial increase in funding for our roads this year. I now want to make sure it is fairly spent in our areas.
I met the new Director of Highways, Karen Cassar and raised three issues; road safety, quicker repair response times, quality and communication. I also asked for a transparent means of demonstrating the prioritisation for road renewal is sensible and fair.
Clearing the backlog
In addition, the County Highways Manager has helped us by combing through our list of issues one by one, with much of it being focussed into forthcoming work programmes, so we can see that it is at least planned.
Keep reporting, please.
In the meantime, please keep reporting through the Council website or directly on “Fixmystreet”. We are getting some progress. If you have deep potholes a month after reporting them, please let me know. I am chasing these up and so far, have been getting a prompt response.
Major road repairs needed
I asked why some particular roads that seemed less needy were done and others not. The current programme of surface-dressing makes roads last a lot longer, if in reasonable condition at the time. But some worse roads need a “retread” or major repair. I have asked for these to be put in the programme, so we can see. The five-year programme is going to be out by October, maybe sooner. I am pushing now on the bigger projects that are needed.
90 days is too long
I have lobbied hard on the 90 days waiting time for deep pothole repair on some rural roads. It used to be 28 days max. 90 days is too long. I have pointed out that it cannot be right that we leave dangerous potholes in the road. I believe it contravenes our statutory duty and have asked for a change in the policy. Our rural roads make the biggest contribution to the serious accident record suffered by Lincolnshire. The roads have sharp bends round field edges, are often rack, usingle tnlit, with a poor surface quality. Add potholes and the fact we are encouraging walkers and cyclists, makes a recipe for disaster. Working together, we are chipping away to get a better outcome for our residents.
The Future of our Heritage
Councillors considered the hundreds of objections to closing the Usher Gallery and approved its closure, if it cannot be shown to make a profit. Other organisations are trying to save it. Final decisions will be made in September. Closure of the Usher Art Gallery and smaller heritage sites would be a devastating blow for little gain.
The mobile library service is reducing to smaller vehicles with fewer books. Stops that are less used are ceased. So please use it, perhaps linked with a regular local event.
The County Council had elections two years ago when PM Mrs May was sweeping in and asking for our votes in the local elections “to help her get Brexit through”. The Council is now overwhelmingly conservative from that era, which now seems very out of step with the public. They are still set on faster growth of housing, even when unable to provide the matching services.
Local Heritage is protected in Coleby
The hand pump on the Coleby Water Wellhead is just visible, recently restored, led by the Parish Council.
Mrs Smith’s Cottage in Navenby
This wonderful museum was a thriving visitor attraction with over 30 volunteers, when it was noticed that serious repairs were needed. It has taken a few years to get significant funding in place from Heritage Lottery and delicately manage the repairs. The Cottage is planned to reopen in April 2020. I pointed out to owners, our District Council, that local people need to be kept informed and engaged and open days are now planned. Please come along on a hard hat tour to see Mrs Smith’s Cottage on September 14, 15, 17 and 18 at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Book MrsSmithsCottage@n-kesteven.gov.uk or visit www.heartoflincs.com
Here we are leading tours, holding open days, wash days and singing the old nursery rhymes in Victorian costume. The traditional Cottage Garden looked fantastic. thanks to local volunteer Mr Chapman.
Let me know if you are interested. We will need volunteers for gardening, maintenance, conservation and collections, group visits and events, art and crafts.
Terry o’ Toole Theatre, North Hykeham
This leisure centre and theatre is owned by the District Council and let under contract. August looks good:
A family of four can watch a film and enjoy a Saturday swim for just £22. They start at 10am on August 3rd with Mary Poppins Returns, then Christopher Robin on the 17th and Shaun the Sheep on the 31st. Enjoy!
The Local Plan
The Local plan is the set of rules against which all planning applications are compared to decide if they get planning permission or not. It is changing and we each get a say.
Thank you all who made up the packed hall in Leadenham to hear about changes to the Local Plan and those of you who responded to the consultation. The overall target has reduced to 1083 houses every year, planning to build at a faster rate than ever before, which is clearly set to fail. The government have set the number, based on figures we sent them. There still seems to be a misguided assumption that builders will flood the market.
We need some development, but too much increases pressure on already stretched public services such as roads, schools, care, quick access to GP’s, hospitals and ambulances. If we cannot afford the matching facilities and services, then how can we afford the houses? Who will go without?
Although the total number of houses is less, all three options propose that villages take more than previously agreed in the current plan, over-riding all our Neighbourhood Plans and taking the decisions away from local people.
My response is at www.lincolnshireindependents.org.uk
Skellingthorpe Rendering Site Application
This application was refused at County Council last week.
- To replace and modernise the buildings to new environmental standards,
- further from the nearest houses and a bit further from Skellingthorpe village,
- limits the number of HGVs (which are currently unlimited)
- improves the access and prevents lorries travelling through Skellingthorpe.
- The weighbridge is moved further into the site, so no queuing of lorries on the road.
It should be an improvement.
The problems arise in that the Local Plan says housing should not be in open countryside unless there is a) need for the manager’s house on site and b) a demonstrated need for affordable housing. Neither were demonstrated.
Councillors could over-ride this and give permission on the balance of benefits. We asked for a new access road from the top of the site towards the A46, but according to the planning rules, this is not essential, and so not included, though it is in their long-term plans. The application does look like an improvement for Skellingthorpe but is not as good as it needs to be.
Many objectors suggested sending the plant over to Norton Disney and close to Witham St Hughs, who are fighting it just as hard. In my opinion, this is not the solution. This current site is already established, and they need to get their act together and run the operation in a modern way without damaging the lives of others.
Spalding Relief Road
We also had two sections of the Spalding Relief Road passed this week. There has been uproar as the route was presented to a public meeting as different to the one previously consulted upon. At the meeting, some residents learned in passing that theirs was one of nine houses due for demolition! The route had been changed between consultation and planning, making more room inside the relief road for 1000 houses. The middle three sections were dropped from scrutiny and from today’s agenda, for further consultation, while work on the two ends of the road will begin!
Before and after – proposed piece Spalding Relief Road
Planning in Bassingham
39 3and 4 bed Dwellings, White lane, Bassingham
Rippon Homes held a consultation in Bassingham, on the site of a previous planning permission. It currently includes ten affordable homes.
Heart of Sleaford
Part of the Council’s duties include supporting a healthy range of businesses and leisure opportunities throughout the District. Sleaford got its charter to be a market town in the twelfth century and should be a major provider of jobs. I supported plans to revitalise the Heart of Sleaford, including purchase of the 99-year lease of land and creation of a cinema and public spaces. We plan to retain ownership and lease the running of the cinema.
The Sleaford regeneration plan was started in 2011, but used to include the road through the recreation ground. Now the route is far better, outside the tree line which forms a natural barrier from the recreation ground and opening the area next to the railway line. Fantastic to be able to support an altogether better scheme.
We will need to make sure that capital investment is shared across our communities and not only in the main towns.
Too much of the recycling we put in our bins ends up costing us because it is the wrong sort of plastic, too large or dirty. Three Councils will trial a 7,500 purple bins for extra clean high value recycling. An alternative I saw in Holland, was to have bins divided into the three recycling streams, even the one in my hotel room! Keeping separate the different kinds of materials for recycling keeps the quality of the recyclables high and therefore more valuable.
Inspection of a Fire Station
This week, I joined the inspection of the Fire Station at Brant Broughton, under Mark Baxter. The crew practiced getting water and putting out a second-floor fire with polished precision.
My national work on Grenfell has demonstrated to me just how vital it is to have properly maintained fire safety in buildings and an excellent fire service.
The team at Brant Broughton all live or work within five minutes of the base. The Fire engines are well equipped, including cutting gear to get people out of cars. Their well-kept twelve-year old fire appliance is soon to be replaced for a new Scania Fire engine which has a gadget for rapidly squirting mist into a room before opening the door. If interested in being a firefighter, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thorold Arms, Harmston’s Community Pub
Mark and Arzu are planning to open for the bank holiday weekend, Friday 23rd August with a Shareholder’s Party the day before, all being well!
More Big Village events
Heckington Show was one of our many events influenced by the rain! Below: A warm snack from Lincolnshire Independent Cllr Maurice Bellwood of Louth. North Kesteven District Council had a stand too. I always love the Vegetable and flower tents and the old tractors.
Thank you to the many volunteers who do such huge amounts to make special events in our villages.
Holly Nelstrop was at the Leadenham Fayre earlier this month. Holly will cook for you every day, if you like! Holly’s Weekly Meal Boxes are very popular, delivered to your door every Thursday/Friday.
Holly also does delicious vegetarian catering for all occasions. 07794524965