Duke of Edinburgh at Whisby Nature Park

Like many of you, I was sad to hear of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh and sent condolences on behalf of our Lincolnshire Independent Councillors and in my national role as Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association. I saw the Duke as Independent-minded, with a good sense of humour and genuinely interested in people.

I met the Duke twice, once at a Commonwealth meeting  in London and once when he came to open the environmental exhibition at the Whisby Natural World Centre.  Like many of you, I also was pleased to support the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and my husband, also now a District Councillor, went with our son to the awards at Buckingham Palace. The Duke took the trouble to speak with every single person.

Lincolnshire Community Day
How about a positive legacy from Covid being the strength of community spirit we have seen. How about marking it with Lincolnshire Community Day on October 1st ? You could help by adding your name to the petition. Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here.

Elections: May 6th or from mid April by post: A baker’s dozen of Lincolnshire Independent candidates are here, all determined to listen and put you front and centre. If you are postal voting and haven’t yet received a leaflet, you will find it here.  www.lincolnshireindependents.org

Our candidates include the George Lundgren, who, if and when elected, will be the youngest County Councillor on record.  A bright, young man, at eighteen, he is in touch with the younger generation, determined to support local residents and to stand up for Lincolnshire. David Williams is an Independent Police and Crime Commissioner, determined to think, speak and act Independently on your behalf to fight for funding and get the best service we can here in Lincolnshire.

Although we stepped back on canvassing out of respect for the Duke, postal voting has started, so leaflets had to be posted through doors, in a covid-safe respectful way. Candidates for the by-election are here and for County Council  here. For the Police and Crime Commissioner here. We have good Independent candidates for all three, so please give them your kind consideration: More information is appearing on the web here.

Voting in person
Voting in the polling stations is between 7am and 10pm, with the usual covid-safe way. Bring a pencil if you can.

Moved house recently?
You need to be registered at your current address. Registering to vote by 19th April 11.59pm  is easy on line www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 

Voting by post
Registration for this service had to be before April 20th. If you are already registered,  you will receive voting papers at home, where you can use your vote and post back in the envelope provided. You can also take your sealed postal vote to the Returning officer in the polling station on May 6th before 5pm.

Voting by Proxy
You can arrange for someone to vote on your behalf at your polling station.  They have to be registered voters. You download the simple form, complete and return them in the same way by Tuesday April 27th 5pm.

More Money for Business
Active non-essential businesses can apply from the District Council for some of the £5bn one off restart grants of up to £18k. A new £425m is for discretionary support of businesses not otherwise supported. Shops can get up to a 90% grant for shop fronts. Register your interest, whether tenant or owner.

Mental Health Aid
Our neighbourly groups meeting fortnightly had an excellent presentation from the County expert.  She recommended mental health first aid, in the same way as we have done first aid for injury. We can get better prepared to give a little support to our neighbours if needed.

Mental Health First Aid for England offer courses at £300 for 2 days. www.mhfaengland.org/individuals/adult/2-day/
A free provider is info@wefindanylearner.co.uk 01226 958 888
You can gain a fully accredited qualification in many different subjects from the comfort of your own home or workplace; Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health for Children and Young People.

Listening Courses
The Pelican Trust is providing a new listening course which is interactive, fun and thought provoking. The course is ideal for be-friending groups, support volunteers, peer support groups and any others that have a friendly ear. The course would be suitable for groups of between 6 and 12 people and is completely free. If you would like to know more please contact the email enquiries@pelicantrust.org or, phone: 01522 513533.

Support for Carers
Employers for Carers offer businesses in Lincolnshire with less than 250 employees, access to a free resource to support staff who have caring responsibilities. 01522 811582 www.every-one.org.uk

Sunflower Project
Our Neighbourhood Scheme group includes volunteer leaders from our seventeen villages.  Mental Health and public Health experts have advised us and we have set about encouraging free mental health First Aid Training for everyone. We are also delighted that our groups have been awarded grants for two projects; the Sunflower Project and a fun activity bag for people otherwise on their own. Thanks to my County Council Grant and North Kesteven’s Community Response and Recovery Fund. The Sunflower project means you will get a small packet of Sunflower seeds which we all plant to brighten our villages and celebrate the community spirit that we want to keep. They look great, don’t take much space and help wildlife at the same time. We hope you would like to take part. Thanks to our local groups of Brownies, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers and the Wildlife Watch group for their support.

Road Safety

Leadenham High Street: The new weight limit sign on Newark Road is up advising of the 7.5 tonne weight limit. HGV’s cannot use the narrow winding part of Leadenham High Street. I have met on site and agreement made to halve the buses using the High Street and improve signage and road markings by the school.


There is a change of Conservative and Labour policy in Central Lincolnshire which will put us under significant pressure from companies wanting to build huge onshore turbines. Lincolnshire already makes a huge contribution in offshore wind. Independents spoke up against changing the rules to give an open goal. www.lincolnshireindependents.org.uk/index.php/news/

Animal Rendering Site
The Norton Disney Rendering Site application is back. You can view the application and comment on PL/0012/21  at planning on line Lincolnshire County Council. It’s a fresh application and previous comments are not brought forward, so please comment on line.  The Norton Disney application will be decided by the new Councillors elected on May 6th. Every letter is really important. It doesn’t need to be wordy or complicated. Link here.

The “oven-ready” deal seems to have put us outside the EU without much of a deal. Northern Ireland is on the other side of the EU border. Exporting companies are finding increased bureaucracy and the shellfish industry has really struggled. There is a business helpline 0800 9981098 and for trade 0300 322 9434.
www.gov.uk/transition   www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline

Covid One Year On
Thank you for all your support during the past year to help ensure we continue to provide the services people need and deserve, particularly for those of our most vulnerable residents.

At a recent conference with excellent speakers on dealing with Covid, we had a discussion with Prof Chris Whitty and the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP. I have put my notes into an article here.

The lockdown is lifting with children now back at school. The twice weekly lateral flow tests started smoothly, with very few positive cases, but whole classes may be sent home. One local facility had 7,300 tests done, all negative. The vulnerable are released but asked to reduce social contacts and keep social distance.

Community testing including new sites in Sleaford, Lincoln, Boston and around the county have now seen over 30,000 people through their doors, identifying 382 (1.23%) symptomless individuals. The Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board has agreed funding for East Lindsey, West Lindsey and South Kesteven for them to set up additional local testing sites, including Grantham. The new ‘Workplace Collect’ enables businesses to supply home test kits to employees where it is not possible for them to setup a testing site on their premises.

The vaccination programme is going well, thanks to volunteers and the NHS. We need about 80% vaccinated before it can be effective and reduce variants developing.  Information is on the County Council website.

Up to six people from two households can meet outside, so we can catch up with family and friends. Outdoor sports facilities and open air swimming pools can reopen and formally organised sports can restart. We can aim for the pub outside on April 12th and indoors on May 17th.

As you know I have fought hard for more funding for Lincolnshire and for highways, which is starting to come in now.  We have had a long period of “austerity” where lack of funding has been seen as a virtue, with national party politics, carried through at local level.  That has put our roads in a very poor state, with potholes and highways are struggling to catch up.  Using www.fixmystreet.com is very  important as I use it to show our senior officers when a repair is overdue. We have some improvements at last with the extra money now coming forward, and we need to continue the pressure after the elections.

Brant Broughton Pavement, A607, A15, some local rural roads repaired and more scheduled.
Pavement repairs at Harmston and Brant Broughton, more scheduled.

New Countryside Code
The Government has brought out a new countryside code that includes being “nice” and also picking up dog poo and binning it, whether in a park or in countryside.  Poster. Thank you very much valiant litter collectors!  If anyone would like a pick-up stick, please let me know.

Leisure and tourism-your view
The County Council is seeking the views of residents, businesses and organisations on plans to make walking and cycling easier in the county.  See details here.
Half a million pounds over the next 18 months is committed to lead and strengthen the county’s tourism sector – more details here .

Take to the Skies for St Barnabas Hospice!  
A once in a lifetime opportunity to tick something off your bucket list and take a leap of faith for hospice care…
Jump out of a plane and SKYDIVE from 15,000ft above the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside or get strapped on top of a plane and WING WALK instead!
Skydive at Hibaldstow on 10th July or 18th September
Wing walk at Wickenby on 13th June or 8th August
Select your date and sign up at www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/events

Recycling Guides
There are some guides on what can go in your recycling, NKDC website: Search for a handy “A-Z Recycling guide.

Neighbourly Covid Groups Meet
Thanks to volunteers from all the villages in my area, meeting fortnightly. The good news is that we have so far

  1. Set up and supported a dozen neighbourly groups in this division of 17 Parish Councils and meetings
  2. Delivered food, medicines, given lifts to get vaccinated, and provided friendly support to those who are alone or families who are isolating
  3. Made links or supported links with the local shops to arrange direct payment
  4. Kept our groups informed so they can have confidence in supporting volunteers
  5. Shared good initiatives especially from Rev. Michelle Godbold, Penny Taylor, Ann Broadbent, Alison Butler, Kay Zouhair and Jason Snape
  6. Given out certificates of thanks to volunteers
  7. Created a fund to thank volunteers, supported by Welbourn Parish Council
  8. Distributed activity books, thanks to Brownies
  9. Set up a puzzle and jigsaw swap and supported local yarn bombing initiatives
  10. Funded a garden of thanks in Wellingore supported by the WI and Parish
  11. Funded seeds to create a Rainbow garden in each village, supported by the Dukes Covert Scout Group and Wildlife Watch
  12. Organised children’s cheerful letters to be shared with those who are more alone
  13. Won some grants to do more, such as activities, and creating gardens
  14. Championing Mental Health First Aid for all.

Colleagues and I have pushed for a better immediate response at the County Council with some success. Some good new services are now available, including the “Don’t bottle it up” campaign. 0800 001 4331. The mental health action plan is here.

One You Lincolnshire
There is a great new service for anyone wanting to stop smoking, reduce weight, increase physical activity or reduce alcohol intake. It is free and it works. www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk

Thank you all for doing such a great job through covid.

Thank you for your support.
Kind Regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Independent Councillor for Bassingham and Welbourn on Lincolnshire County Council
and for the Cliff Villages on North Kesteven District Council
Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents and the Independent Network
Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association