The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia is horrific. Ukraine’s democracy were in no way threatening, but now they suffer war with all it’s pain. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine.
Our communities are helping, with local businesses and schools as collection points for food, blankets, clothes and firt aid. Our first shipment is going from Welbourn Primary School this week.A “ Lights Out” campaign is underway, and the less oil and gas we use the better.
Donating money on direct debit gives UNICEF or the Red Cross, for example, is a great help. Many families have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries. Councils are gearing up to support 100,000 refugees who have family in this country. (Family Migration route +44 (0) 300 3032785). Our Councils are working to provide for essential needs, cybersecurity and community support.
New in Lincoln
Thanks to all who joined us for an inspiring day at the new Lincoln Cathedral Centre for a conference hotspot on post-covid issues. Disappearing Councils, “levelling-up”, mental health and tackling climate change all featured strongly. Newly opened is the exhibition in the visitor’s Centre adjacent to the Cathedral with the fascinating Romanesque frieze. At the evening reception in the Collection Museum, we created a ring of peace around the Gaia Earth, the art installation by Luke Jerram. It is very poignant in the light of the disaster in Ukraine and natural disasters caused by climate change.
Ring of Peace around Gaia Earth at The Collection
The Collection is owned and run by the County Council, and now open to visitors along with another new exhibition, gift shop and café. All are welcome.
Energy for Central Lincolnshire
As energy prices rocket, we need to use less where we can. There is a link off the home page of North Kesteven District Council that recommends making sure you are registered as living at the right address by 1 April 2022. Registering to pay council tax by direct debit makes it easy to receive the £150 rebate for homes in band A to D, which is most dwellings and there is also a discretionary grant for higher tax bands.
If you think the tax level is not correct, you can appeal to the valuation office on 03000 501 501 or www.gov.uk/challenge-council-tax-band
Changes to the Planning Rules
You are invited to respond to the draft Central Lincolnshire Local Plan. The plan for 32,000 more dwellings was passed by Councils this week. The next consultation is from mid-March for six weeks.
Controversially, the plan still invites the introduction of ever larger wind turbines in some areas and up to 40m more widely. Yet we already have very large areas of solar panels being accepted, enough to meet our renewable energy requirements. There is no limit to number or size of turbines,, other than when the available space is full.
The requirement to build well insulated, low carbon emitting homes is welcome, but this is not required for dwellings in less profitable areas. As it stands, those who need the energy saving most, won’t be getting it.
The 32,000 new dwellings is more than the government requires. creating a surplus, a “buffer”. This increases pressure in our villages, as road repairs and health services struggle to keep up. Big issues are still to discussed, so please share your views!
More detail on the NEW Local Plan
I attended the Joint Lincolnshire Local Plan Panel with twelve voting representatives from four Councils. Following our local public meetings on the proposals, many of us submitted objections.
On your behalf, I submitted questions which led on to a proposal from the County Council. There have been minor changes, including on the wind turbine policy, but the provision to build large wind turbines remains, contrary to the County Council unanimously agreed view:
“To enable a sustainable future for our communities, we are keen to enable a mix of green energy production across Lincolnshire. Large wind turbines are not the right solution in Lincolnshire and we are pushing partners to find other options including more solar production on our less productive land, as well as on buildings. Land classification work from the county council, shows approximately 6,900 acres of Grade 4 (‘poor’) land in Central Lincolnshire, which would be enough to accommodate the required solar energy capacity.”
The allocation of sites for another 32,000 dwellings, should be reduced. It is not needed and puts too much pressure on roads and health services. If facilities can’t be afforded, then fewer houses per year should be allowed in that area. To keep the character of our villages, there needs to be a limit, including the cumulative impact of many applications considered together.
The plan contains a good attempt to enhance environmental credentials on new build, but not in our big development areas around Sleaford, Lincoln and Gainsborough. Building new houses that immediately need retrofitting at great expense seems completely daft, contrary to our agreed target of net zero emissions by 2030: Something you may want to raise.
The consultation from mid-March is based mainly on whether the plan is “sound”. For that it has to be deliverable, so it helps to connect your points with that. You may like to write again raising the issue of whether your points have been properly considered. All previous comments will not be passed forward to the Inspector, so we will need to write again. Writing also means the Inspector may invite you to speak at the hearing, which is very helpful. https://democracy.n-kesteven.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=729&MId=8950&Ver=4
Comments last time are on the tab at the top of the home page of www.lincolnshireindependents.org.uk
Grants for insulation
Insulation may save up to 40% of your bill, so well worth having. Properties for let have to be up to a reasonable standard by law. There are grants if you get really stuck with your bills. The Citizens Advice Bureau is really helpful and the website has a geat page on “grants for insulation” www.citizensadvice.org.uk 0808 278 7942. Veterans www.turn2us.org.uk
Keeping our home areas crime-free
Neighbourhood Watch are running this burglary prevention campaign through March. ourwatch.org.uk/thinkwiden
WEBINAR: What does smart security mean for my home?
10th March, 5-6pm delivered in partnership with ERA Home Security ourwatch.org.uk/webinars.
Are you busy March 21st-25th?
Ever felt moved to create a beautiful icon? A great way to spend a week is this Icon course for beginners at Temple Bruer Church, Wellingore.
Led by Canon Ian Holdsworth from the Yorkshire Icon School The week all in costs £200. More from Rev Stuart Foster in Wellingore. email@example.com
District Council Plans to spend on c.£45m services
North Kesteven District Council passed the budget plan to spend a net £15.412m, after income from grants, fees and charges is taken into account. The District Council portion of your tax bill is up by £5 for the year for band D property. Around £55m is planned for capital spend, mainly building projects.
I have been part of the team working nationally to explain to Government ministers, with evidence, exactly why the money from the Treasury is needed locally. This year Councils got a better settlement for this one year at least. The District Council was able to put £3m into reserves. Our Independent group called for that to be ear-marked for the Council’s Climate Action Plan, to include safer cycle and footpaths (eg Leadenham), solar canopies on charging points in car parks, and insulation and solar panels on our council buildings. We also proposed a community fund for local “green” projects as the NK Fund has ceased.
The Council owns over 3,800 dwellings and a detailed survey shows the need for substantial improvement in energy efficiency in around 400 dwellings. We called for a significant speeding up of the work. Legislation requires all let houses, including those owned by Councils to improve their energy efficiency. We have also declared we are tackling unnecessary emissions and we have to get on with it much faster.
The amendment was not passed on this day but I hope we have laid a clear direction.
Planning committee gets smaller
The planning committee has been performing well in terms of timely decisions and very few being overturned by Inspectors. All members were on planning and all required to have proper training. The two sub-committees met alternately so applications could be rapidly taken to committee. However, some councillors don’t want to be on planning and it has been recommended that the committee size be reduced somewhat.
The recent Council passed a motion to reduce the committee to just 15 councillors, meeting every three weeks. Local councillors will be allowed 5 minutes before the debate starts, as will the applicant, objector and Parish Council representative.
Lights off for the Planet – and less oil from Putin.
Review by the Local Government Association
The Local Government Association was invited to do a review of the District Council. They found it to be “a strong, financially secure and stable council and all of its work is informed by its strong suite of corporate plans and strategies.” The review team of Councillors and officers reflected what they saw and made 13 recommendations for improvement which we will be working through.
Discover Lincolnshire Weekend 26-27 March
All Lincolnshire attractions are open and free to enter. It’s a good opportunity to promote local businesses at the same time. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
Well Done Bassingham
Bassingham Parish Council has worked with nearly 300 volunteers, led by residents Paul Rea and Nicola Jones to create a new woodland. Huge thanks to all for their support.
“Plant for the Planet” campaign
I spoke with the County Council Tree Officer this week and there will be more tree-planting grants available this winter. Lincolnshire has comparatively little woodland, especially woods with public access. Thanks to volunteers, we have the “Plant for the Planet” campaign running locally to give support. Please get in touch.
Thank you for all you continue to do in our communities and your kind support. Best wishes.
Marianne Overton MBE
Working together to support people and planet
- March 19th Riverlights in Sleaford
- March 26th Earth Hour at Mrs Smith’s Cottage, Navenby; heritage, artwork in light, nature-based activities
April 15th Easter hunt