Leader’s Column - Here today, gone tomorrow

As a local councillor I’m here for today and tomorrow. If tomorrow doesn’t come I’ll do something else. It’s the only way to view this role whether you are the leader of the council or a councillor. When the electorate don’t want you they’ll let you know.

For now things are good. The first thing I had to do when I was elected leader of the council was to acquire a deputy. Thankfully Cllr Anne Welburn accepted the role. Apart from being a very nice lady, Anne has exceptional understanding of business systems and protocols.

As an entrepreneurial council we set four key priorities, which are prosperous, connectivity, green and active and healthy.

Prosperous includes asset acquisition and management, job creation, NEETS (people not in employment education or training) and open for business.

Since 2002 members of the South West Ward of Gainsborough have been crying out for improvements in their communities. I am proud that in my first 18 months as leader we have begun significant work in a renovation program for that area. During the last six months the council purchased several properties, and some have been renovated and are already back in use. This is improving the street scene and making better housing available for first-time buyers or families. The regeneration program is being carried out across West Lindsey.

NEETS is a government initiative to help people aged 16-24 to find training education and employment. This is a subject very close to the heart of Cllr Reg Shore who is working with our officers and government bodies to develop such a program.

Connectivity encompasses broadband, self service and e-connectivity. An intensive period of work has been carried out by Cllr Welburn and officers to develop better access to council services. E-connectivity will allow residents to access a varied range of services provided by the council through one point of access. For those who choose not to embrace e-connectivity we will still be there by telephone or face-to-face.

We are working in partnership with Quickline to provide superfast broadband for all in West Lindsey. We have committed to a financial loan to Quickline to provide a wireless superfast system for the whole district. At the end of approximately five years the loan will have been repaid and a wireless structure should be complete for all in West Lindsey to receive this super fast broadband service.

Green covers all renewable energy solutions including reducing waste. Environmentally we are doing our bit by installing PV panels on our own properties to generate income and reduce our carbon footprint.

As I write this, the seven district councils in Lincolnshire are working together to formulate a single waste strategy to create even greater efficiencies.

When complete I’m sure I will feel very proud to have been the instigator of this initiative.

Active and healthy includes volunteering and a whole person strategy for health improvement.

The health of our community is central to an active and prosperous West Lindsey. Because of the complexities of our health service nationally and locally I saw a need for us to better understand what was being proposed. This has prompted me to appoint Cllr Alan Caine to act as lead councillor for health.

The good weather we have experienced until now has been a real bonus. It has also brought significant benefits to the many farmers in West Lindsey, allowing them to prepare the soil for the next crop in a more timely fashion. The dramatic fall in crop values has significantly increased financial pressures.

Next stop winter.

Cllr Jeff Summers,

West Lindsey District Council leader