Independents - Make impact on WLDC

As a WLDC Councillor, Life is never dull!

The Local Development Plan (LDP), Finance at West Lindsey and Free Parking in Market Rasen, the Lincoln Eastern Bypass (LEB), the proposed closure of Hawthorn Rd in Cherry Willingham and the No Confidence Motion proposed against Cllr Martin Hill at County Hall on Friday over the libraries and associated legal costs are all inter- related.

Mr Hoblyn was absolutely right to ask last week, “ just who is it right?”

As far as the LDP is concerned, the horse has bolted!

Across a swathe of West Lindsey, from Saxilby to Market Rasen, to Bardney and back to Cherry Willingham and elsewhere in the District there are far more potential developments on the table than are proposed in the LDP. If built they will escape Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges. CILs are not retrospective. Other Councils managed to have their Local Development plans approved a year or so ago. Not only does this failure cause funding problems for the necessary infrastructure the above developments will require, it passes the cost of building the bypass back to Lincolnshire County Council (LCC). We will need yet another Judicial review to sort out just how the three districts’ £34m commitment to LCC will be funded. The District Councils will not have the money.

It would seem “Local Government is bad for your wealth” and the removal of the Free Parking signs in Market Rasen is proof enough for me.

At the risk of boring your readers, I have tried to broaden the financial debate since being first elected. Accounts and business propositions need to be subject to serious analysis or you will end up with nasty surprises, like Tesco, and lost Free Parking as a result.

Perhaps your readers might like to review a recent WLDC white paper, Paper F, The Draft Annual Accounts, given to the Governance and Audit Committee (GAC) on Thursday night. I am not on that committee but all the details are on the web. It is a well prepared document.

In the last year, the balance sheet shows our property portfolio has been revalued down, our pension deficit increased by £2.6m and that our gross expenditure on services has fallen by some £3m and our gross income for those services by £6m.

I was at the GAC as a visiting member on Thursday night. There were several queries that were not asked by members on the committee that I wished to ask. The Chairman, as is his right, refused to take my questions. I was unable to speak.

That my concerns, as an experienced businessman, as a decision maker for several SMEs and even national company go un-discussed seems wrong to me.

Even more serious though are “pink papers”. (Please Google Eric Pickles pink paper). Business and management decisions are hidden from public scrutiny by an ocean of pink paper.

I am not allowed to tell you what they are about or the detail they contain but I can tell you they make my hair rise.

There is a simple remedy. Vote in more Independent District Councillors. With more Independent councillors we should be able to negate the influence of “party whips” and ensure pink papers are reserved for personal, confidential details and commercially sensitive processes.

The spending of Council Tax Payers money should be truly transparent.

If you are interested in local matters stand as an Independent District Councillor in your ward.

You will not be alone. There are numerous Independent Councillors in the County and other districts, five Independents in West Lindsey and several thousand nationally. Being Independent is the only way you can be free represent your ward.

To give you a flavour of what is involved in being a District Councillor The Lincolnshire Group of Independent Councillors are holding a “introductory evening” at the Advocate Arms, Market Rasen, Wednesday 19th November at 7.30pm. Anyone who might be interested in standing as an Independent member in the District Council next May is welcome.

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE (County & NKDC and the LGA National Council) has kindly volunteered to outline how the group might be able to help and offer advice on running a campaign.

This must be the best time ever to stand be an Independent Candidate. Only YOU, out of all the candidates on the list will be free to concentrate on local issues such as the Local Development Plan and free parking in Market Rasen. What an advantage!

WLDC Cllr Chris Darcel