West Lindsey - It’s good to be Independent

With all the “spin” in local newspapers recently- it must be my turn. As an Independent district councillor I am delighted with Cllr Wiseman’s rise to fame and fortune, and, speaking for myself, I just wish there were far more Independent Councillors like Cllr Wiseman on both the District and County Councils.

Why? because my ears and emails give me a slightly different view of life in West Lindsey to that painted in your pages.

And it is only by having more Independent councillors that we will be able to make change. If there is one message the recent UKIP revolution has delivered it is that government, national and local, should listen.

As a district councillor the three main grumbles I hear are: lack of consultation, poor value for money for our council tax and problems with planning and enforcement.

In Cherry Willingham, Reepham and Fiskerton, we were not consulted about the planned closure of Hawthorn Rd. Somebody clever and more concerned about the growth of Lincoln and Gainsborough thought the road closure would be good for us! Over 3500 residents disagreed.

Nor do I remember being consulted as a council tax payer over the sale of our planning sovereignty to the Central Lincolnshire Joint Planning Unit. When the field next to you gets covered in housing it will be the JPU in charge, not WLDC! Worse, it will be the JPU that decides where the collected Infra-structure Levy from the project is spent. So the £ms raised by a field of housing in Caistor, Market Rasen or Scotter will most likely be spent in Lincoln. Did anybody ask you if you thought it was a good idea?

Nor have we been consulted over the issue of free school meals! In theory it sounds a great idea- but in Lincolnshire there is a huge black hole between funding and demand. Apparently, Lincolnshire, out of all the counties, has the biggest financial shortfall. https://twitter.com/Cllr_Suffield for details.

Could committing several hundred million pounds of council tax payers money to the incinerator project be why we are so short of cash for school meals, the closing of Hawthorn Rd and the closing of the day centres for those with special needs, the libraries and the reduced services for elderly care? Again we were not consulted.

With regards our council tax, reducing top management costs could make a big difference to achieving better value for money. East Lindsey and North Kesteven, for instance, run leaner machines. Perhaps we should cast an eye over the fence. The money that could come back to our wards could be substantial.

One major issue in the Fiskerton and Langworth Ward (soon to be merged with Cherry Willingham) is the lack of enforcement of conditions laid down with planning approvals. In this one ward alone there are three clusters of residents who feel badly let down.

District wide, with 37 councillors, the number would multiply up to 111, quite a number and an issue that needs addressing.

Cllr Wiseman’s assessment is quite right, WLDC performs well in much of what it does but the issues I have raised on planning, finance and consultation do need sorting.

If you feel you would like make a contribution, why not stand to be an Independent Councillor next May. You will not be alone.

There are five Independent Councillors in West Lindsey today and there a significant number across the County and several thousand up and down the Country.

Only Independent Councillors are whip free and free to represent their local communities as they think best. But you need not be alone. I belong to the “Lincolnshire Independents Group of Councillors”, we meet once a month to discuss matters, we have no whip but do quite often share a common view. I find the knowledge gained at the meetings invaluable.(i.e. Mark’s knowledge on school meals). Anyone who is independent can join and details are on the website.

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE is the group leader and I have volunteered to be coordinator for the group in West Lindsey for the next election.

We would love it if you joined and either way, if you wished to join or not, we would be delighted to hear from you.

You might know someone who might like to stand, or be prepared to act as a helper. Some of our members are experts on fighting campaigns, flyers and social networking all of which can be very useful to a new campaigner!

There is an enthusiasm in the group which I find invigorating.

Please contact me, Chris Darcel on 01522 750411 or chris.darcel1@gmail.com or Marianne Overton CllrM.Overton@lincolnshire.gov.uk

Cllr Chris Darcel

By Email