Councillor Welcomes Appeal Decision

A West Lindsey District Councillor has welcomed the decision by the national Planning Inspectorate to dismiss an appeal for 200 homes at Larch Avenue, Nettleham.

Cllr. Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham ward and took the lead representing the local planning authority at the hearings held during the appeal, commented:

“I am thrilled that Mr. Boniface, the inspector, has agreed with us and dismissed the appeal. The proposal to build 200 homes with roads, infrastructure and public open space was totally at odds with local sentiments – expressed in the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan.

“It will come as greatly reassuring that having adopted the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan the inspector has relied on the relevance of this document, together with that of the neighbourhood plan, in coming to his view that the proposal would be at odds with the amount and location of development for the village and would result in harm on the character and appearance of the area.

“The original planning application was made in March 2015 and now over two years later I am glad that the matter has finally been concluded. I wrote the Council’s Statement of Case – which was longer than my dissertation at university – it took several weeks to pull together and at times I thought it might prove to be in vain. Today though, I know, that local people will be genuinely pleased that we have got the result we wanted.”

University of Lincoln Withdraws Housing Planning Application

The University of Lincoln has withdrawn its outline planning application for a major new housing development and educational facilities at its Riseholme campus north of Lincoln.

The proposal would have seen much of the campus redeveloped, including the construction of up to 180 new houses.

The university sent a formal letter announcing the withdrawal to Riseholme Parish Council stating that “while the proposed development only encompassed 5% of the site, we do understand the degree of opposition to the proposals from within the local community.” It will now conduct a “review of the options for the campus”.

The university’s £20 million masterplan would have seen parts of the current Riseholme College campus demolished. It was initially proposed to be replaced with 750 new homes (later scaled back to 180), as well as agri-food, science, sport and heritage facilities at the campus.

The plans were met with objections from current tenants Bishop Burton College, a number of local councillors, the Member of Parliament, Sir Edward Leigh, and farmers. At the end of 2016, the Department for education also announced intentions to bring legal action against the plans.

Ms Elly Sample, Director of Communications, Development & Marketing at the University of Lincoln, said:

“Our Riseholme Campus remains essential to our teaching and research activities, not least as the headquarters for our Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology whose work is driving innovation across our food and farming industries.

“We recognise that this application – particularly the housing proposal for a pocket of brownfield land at the core of the campus – has caused concerns locally. It was not supported by the recent Examination in Public of the draft Local Plan.

“As such we are withdrawing the outline application in its entirety to give time to reflect and reassess the options.

“We will work with local residents, the parish council and other stakeholders to discuss jointly a future for Riseholme that meets the University’s needs and the aspirations of local people and which is sensitive to the campus’ very special landscape and heritage.”

In response to the announcement, Councillor Giles McNeill, who represents Riseholme on West Lindsey District Council, said:

“I welcome the news from the University of Lincoln that they are withdrawing their plans for substantial housing development at the Riseholme campus.

“I hope that they truly mean to engage properly with the local community as they look at reviewing the plans for the campus.

“Their record on this is a cause for serious concern and the fact they did not have the courtesy to inform me separately speaks volumes for the continuing inability of the University to engage with all stakeholders in a proper and appropriate way.”

Bishop Burton College has welcomed the news, but says the college has had no assurances that its lease on the campus would be extended post 2020.

Jeanette Dawson OBE, Chief Executive and Principal of Riseholme College, a part of Bishop Burton College, said:

“I have been made aware the University of Lincoln has withdrawn its current planning application, pending future consultation.

“Whilst I welcome this news, the College has still not had any assurances from the University that it will grant long-term leases to the buildings and facilities post 2020 to allow us to continue delivering the agricultural further education needed at Riseholme to train Lincolnshire’s future skilled workforce.

“Indeed, we are still having to operate with only annual licences to allow our agriculture students access to the farm for vital practical work.

“There is also the on-going issue of a legal challenge by the Government in the form of the Education & Skills Funding Agency, which has publicly stated it is taking steps against the University to enforce a legally-binding ‘asset deed’ to protect the future use of Riseholme for the delivery of agricultural further education.

“I would welcome the opportunity to meet with the University to discuss its intentions for the future of Riseholme, including the delivery of agricultural further education – which is so crucial for Lincolnshire.”

Sir Edward Leigh, the local Member of Parliament, welcomed the University of Lincoln’s withdrawal of its planning application for the Riseholme campus.

“I’m relieved to hear this application has been withdrawn,” Sir Edward said. “I hope that whatever will be proposed for Riseholme is done in proper consultation with local residents and other stakeholders.”

“Importantly the University of Lincoln has yet to honour its commitment to Riseholme College, however, to have access to the agricultural estate for land-based education there. This has been a great disappointment for those of us who want to see this vital role continue.”

“We have to make sure our young people are given the skills and training they need to secure Lincolnshire’s future as the breadbasket of England. I hope the University of Lincoln will urgently open up a dialogue with Bishop Burton College so that we can see land-based education flourishing at Riseholme past 2020 when the College’s lease expires.”

“Too Much Politics” Is Surely Only A Good Thing

We are fast approaching the anniversary of the referendum, held last June, on our future relationship with the European Union. Now, with local election tomorrow, and just a few weeks to the general election, it can often feel like we talk about politics more than our politicians are getting on with the job. These sentiments were neatly summed up by one voter in Bristol who stated that there is “too much politics going on.” Clearly, as someone actively engaged in politics, I am probably biased, however, I would argue that an election, any election, can only be for the common good.

We know from the latest figures that knowledge of and interest in politics is on the rise. In fact it has risen by 8%. And 59% of electors state they are certain to vote in the general election. This follow a trend, over many decades, of falling political engagement across western democracies, with reducing turnouts at elections and the rise of apathy. Without change, trends towards poltical disengagement could have serious, long-term, implications for our democracy,

There are those who suggest that over the last twelve months the political pulse of the United Kingdom, Europe and America has been electrified by events that will shape a generation. For instance, the EU referendum saw voter turnout reach a record 72% and the first round of the French presidential elections saw 78% turnout. Say what you will about the politics, but now more than ever, voters are engaged with the process.

Nevertheless voter fatigue is a real issue and should not be overlooked as the ‘campaigning season’ extends beyond tomorrow’s local elections and into June for the general election. The Government has followed through with the democratic decision of the country, and triggered Article 50. It is now for the public to return a strong Government, which they can unite behind.

It is for this reason that I encourage people to vote for Conservative candidates in tomorrow’s local elections – to make sure that a Conservative-led County Council can work with a Conservative Government to deliver the best Brexit deal for Lincolnshire and the country. It is why I will be working to secure the re-election of Sir Edward Leigh as the Member of Parliament for the Gainsborough Constituency, so that he can stand with Prime Minister Theresa May and form a strong and stable government. It is why I want to ensure that as many people as possible vote and keep our democratic spirit alive.

Visit to make sure you can vote in the UK Parliamentary General Election on Thursday, 8th June 2017.

Community Award Won by Joyce & Colin Lewis

At Nettleham’s Annual Parish Meeting on the Tuesday, 25th April 2017 the Chairman of the Parish, Cllr. John Evans, was pleased to name Mr. Colin Lewis & Mrs. Joyce Lewis as joint winners of this year’s ‘Ray Sellars Community Award’, which was presented by Mr. Mark Sellars.

Cllr. John Evans, said:

“The award was in recognition for their organisation and contribution to the ‘Nettleham Cares’ annual event since 1988.

“They have worked closely with charitable care organisations in our local area for much of this time and they have won the support and respect of many local people for the work they have carried out over 28 years.

“They are also leading lights in collecting shoeboxes for families and elderly people in Eastern Europe (372 sent in 2016) and also with the ‘Sightsavers’ charity.”

District and Parish Councillor Giles McNeill added:

“Mr. & Mrs. Lewis are worthy recipients of this award and their tireless dedication to their fundraising is an example for everyone. I was very pleased to contribute to the establishment of this award a few years ago in memory of my predecessor on the district council. It is good to know that we are still getting nominations and it goes from strength to strength.”

Conservative Councillors’ Association Conference 2017

Lincolnshire has played host to the annual conference of the Conservative Councillors’ Association at Broughton in North Lincolnshire. 

The Conservative Councillors’ Association (CCA) is made up of almost every local councillor in the UK elected as a Conservative Party Candidate.  The CCA exists to provide a strong and unified voice for all Conservative councillors both within the Party and in the wider community, it supports councillors in their important role and provides them with the tools to both work effectively on behalf of local residents and to campaign successfully as Conservatives.

The CCA’s Conservative Local Government Conference is a two-day conference for councillors from across the country to come together and discuss policy ideas, network and get motivated ahead of the May elections. The Conference took place between 24th and 25th February 2017 at the Forest Pines Hotel, Ermine Street, Broughton.

2017-02-24 12.18.21The conference opened with a welcome by CCA Chairman Cllr. Rory Love who introduced an address by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, who spoke on a range of issues facing local government and suggested that a second phase of devolution deals may be able to come forward in the future.

In the afternoon the conference gave a standing ovation to welcome the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP who had arrived directly from a victory rally in Copeland following the by-election success the night before, she said:

 “Copeland is a seat that Labour describe as their ‘core-vote country’, it has returned Labour MPs without exception since the 1930s, it is a seat they thought they would win this time, and where they expected to increase their majority. It is true to say that the result is a devastating blow for them and proof that Labour are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary working people.”

Turning to the local elections in May she said:

“Last year, Labour’s deputy leader warned of entryism in Labour by the far left. This year, even the Stalinists in Momentum are complaining about being infiltrated by the Trotskyites.

“But for those of us who remember what Militant did to Liverpool, it doesn’t matter what term you use – we can’t allow Labour to get a foothold back in local government and let them do for local communities what they did to our country.”

Following the address there was an open question and answer session for about fifteen minutes. After the Prime Minister’s departure there was a question and answer session with Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, Marcus Jones MP (Minister of State for Local Government) and Lord Porter of Spalding (Chairman of the Local Government Association)

Cllr. Giles McNeill, who has attended the conference for the first time, as part of a delegation from APSE, was chairing two workshops on ‘Housing the nation’, following the Local Government question and answer session. The speaker panel included Ms Mo Baines, Head of Communication and Coordination from APSE and Mr. Rob Bailey, an APSE Principle Advisor. The workshops focused on how councils can be part of the solution to delivering the homes the country needs, generating an income stream from such activity, the role of local authority housing companies and delivering new homes for sale or rent. All delegates who participated received a copy of APSE’s latest research on housing. Cllr. McNeill commented:

“Firstly, it was very pleasing that the first workshop was at capacity, which just goes to show the appetite there is amongst Conservative councillors to recognise this issue and find solutions. We had some good discussions on how we can get Britain building the homes we need; and how local council must play a role in that. It was very pleasing to be stopped after the workshops concluded to be thanked and told how good and useful delegates had found the sessions.”

After the workshops the CCA’s AGM was held and that concluded the day’s formal proceedings.

In the evening TogetherSure and Barratt Developments kindly sponsored the evening’s Drinks Reception and Dinner respectively. The guest speaker was the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP, who provided an insight into her role and the part that local government play in supporting her to make sure the UK is safe from crime, secure from threats and in tackling issues around immigration. Cllr. McNeill said:

“It was a very good speech from the Home Secretary, at sometimes humours and other deeply serious. I was pleased to spend a little time with her chatting about crime in West Lindsey and issues around immigration and security; she was very generous with her time and engaging on these local concerns. ”



County Council’s Referendum Plans Revealed to Cost Taxpayers More Than £1m

A referendum on support for moving Lincolnshire to unitary council status would cost in the region of £1 million, Lincolnshire districts have been told, despite public assurances from the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr. Martin Hill, that it would be ‘cost-free.’

Legal advice received by the district councils from Timothy Straker QC states that any attempt by the county council to combine their elections with such a referendum would be unlawful, with the plans being “contrary to the Election Rules and fraught with danger of litigation.” This means, in effect, the referendum would need to be held completely separately or on a different day, incurring costs to Lincolnshire’s taxpayers of around £1 million.

Commenting, Cllr. Giles McNeill, Chairman of West Lindsey District Council’s Governance and Audit Committee, said:

“The county council has stated, several times now, that it wants to run a referendum at the same time as the local elections on Thursday, 4th May; to test the level of public support for moving to a unitary authority. Because this would be the same date as their elections, there are significant legal obstacles about holding a referendum on this day.

“The legal advice means the only way a referendum could take place would be to hold it completely separately or on another date. This would mean that the full cost to the Lincolnshire taxpayer  would be in the region of £1million.

“I doubt that anyone would think this as a good use of taxpayers’ money, especially as the outcome of this sort of referendum would not be binding.

“If the county council had consulted more widely on its proposal, with any of the district councils, prior to making an announcement, our concerns could have been considered. They chose not to.

“Hopefully, this will now  lead them to realise their mistake, reconsider their plans and not progress with either an unlawful referendum or one costing a vast amount of public money.

“Asking people to make a decision on such an important subject, without having all the facts or knowing the alternatives, is an irresponsible way of conducting any kind of debate and I certainly think such an approach reprehensible.

“I know that the district council Leaders are in favour of a collective debate on the future of local government in Lincolnshire, but to hold a referendum at such an early stage in discussions is ridiculous, especially at such a cost.”

Speaking about the proposal for one unitary council for Lincolnshire, Cllr McNeill added:

“A single unitary council for the whole of Lincolnshire would be remote – we are one of the largest counties in the UK and contain a diverse range of areas with significantly differing challenges and needs.

“A county unitary would be too remote as the only layer of local government – district councils are best placed to deliver services that meet the needs of all their residents and businesses and we want to protect these services. This would not happen under a county unitary.

“The proposal by the county council is in response to its own financial circumstances, is not driven by a desire to act in the best interests of local residents.”

In addition, Cllr. McNeill said of the recent failed devolution bid for Greater Lincolnshire:

“District councils have been open to considering new methods of governance and are keen to discuss options with our neighbouring councils – the county council recently rejected a devolution deal that would have secured at least £450 million of new money for the region, to have been invested in housing and infrastructure. This unitary proposal secures no extra funding.”

Local Councillor Welcomes Post Office Improvements

Conservative West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, Cllr. Giles McNeill, has welcomed an agreement between Lincolnshire Co-Operative and the Post Office who are preparing to expand the current counter service into a new and improved ‘main style’ branch.

The upgrade of the Nettleham Post Office is part of a programme of modernisation throughout the Post Office Network. Cllr. McNeill said:

“This is good news for Nettleham and surrounding villages. Local residents will in the future have access to more Post Office services for longer.”

Mr. Damian Mulholland, the Area Manager for the Post Office, has announced commented that:

“I’m delighted to tell you that we’ve decided, with the Lincolnshire Co-Operatives’s agreement, to change the Nettleham Post Office branch to one of our new main style branches.

“Our aim is to create a more modern and convenient retail experience for customers that will include longer opening hours.

“Nettleham Post Office will continue to offer the same products as services as before, together with a wider selection of on demand travel money. A new low level counter and hearing loop will aid accessibility.”

The post office will close for refurbishment on the evening of Thursday, 16th February and is expected to reopen at 1pm on Friday, 24th February 2017.

New Year’s Message

As 2017 begins I would like to wish everyone, particularly people who live in Grange-de-Lings, Nettleham and Riseholme, the people that I represent on West Lindsey District Council, my very best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017.

In January I had great pleasure in attending a gala dinner at Newark Showground with the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP. I even had opportunity to speak with him briefly and continue to press him to fund research in to SABRE hybrid-engine technology. I was also very pleased to invite the Chairman of Nettleham Parish Council and his consort, Terry and Kathleen Williams, to join us at the dinner. I did not anticipate that both would have stepped down from their respective posts by the summer. Towards the end of the month I completed a thousand mile round trip around the UK in 48 hours – Chairing a conference in Manchester, attending an Association Meeting of APSE in Edinburgh and then a flight down to London.

In the run up to May I was quite busy supporting Marc Jones’ election campaign to succeed Alan Hardwick as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire. As Treasurer of the Lincolnshire Area Conservative Party my main responsibilities revolved around fundraising. I was very pleased that Marc won the election, particularly as I had been critical of the previous campaign in 2012 and had pushed my own ideas – which proved fruitful.

Later that month I was thrilled to go to Buckingham Palace, at the invitation of the Queen, with my good friend Cllr. Mrs. Jackie Brockway, for a Garden Party. The afternoon began a little after half past two when guests were allowed into the Palace. Afternoon tea was served from half past three. The Yeomen of the Guard ‘hold ground’ and a two rows emerge across the lawn between the Palace’s West Terrace and the Royal Tea Tent by the lake. At four o’clock, prompt, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family emerge from the Palace to the National anthem and then make their way from the Palace to the Royal Tea Tent over the course of an hour with small groups of specially selected individuals being presented, usually from Charities and bodies to which the Royal is a patron.

There are two military bands that play music alternatively throughout the afternoon, including, on this occasion, at one point, the theme tune to Family Guy. Guests are able to walk freely around the garden which includes a lake, the broad stretches of lawn, a 170 metre long herbaceous border, a curved avenue on Indian chestnut (added by the Queen in 1961), the Admiralty Summer House, and a rose garden – at the centre of which is the Waterloo Vase, made from carrara marble, originally made for Nepoleon and given by King Edward VII in 1903.

I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to continue my service as Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee by the Council’s Leader, Cllr. Jeff Summers and also to continue in the role as the administration’s Chief Whip. My colleagues also decided to elect me as the Group’s Treasurer. So I guess the old adage is true. If you want a job doing, find a busy person.

In March the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan was formally presented to the district council for its formal adoption and later in the year in November so too was Riseholme’s Neighbourhood Plan. These documents form a vital set of criteria with which to judge planning application within the two parishes – and with the Beal Homes Appeal, in Nettleham and the University of Lincoln’s proposals at Riseholme lingering into the New Year these documents will play an important role.

I was delighted to welcome Rt. Hon. Priti Patel to Gainsborough in March with colleagues and officers for a tour of our joint public services hub at the Guildhall; many local authorities are working in partnership and following suite. I am confident that we will bring forward ambitions plans for a second stage of collaborative working in the near future.

The summer brought a significant upheaval to the cosy liberal-left orthodoxy that has prevailed in recent decades as, in the biggest democratic decision ever taken by the British peoples, we voted to leave the European Union. Whilst many were surprised at this result, I was not. What I did not expect was the whinging from the losing side, which is suffused with an unnecessary bitterness and contempt for their rivals. I also note that the Scottish government is attempting to remain in the EU, despite the historical precedent that when we last voted, in 1973, they voted to leave and nevertheless remained in with the rest of the UK.

The referendum led to the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister. I first met him in 2006 and we had become fairly well acquainted through our various meetings at Party events. I was saddened that he had taken the decision to step-down, however understandable under the circumstances.

In October I had the good fortune to have lunch with his successor the Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, and we spoke briefly about Lincolnshire and her cabinet appointments.

Local government continues to face a tough financial settlement with central government and your local councillors are very much on the front-line. West Lindsey is well placed to adapt to the changes that reducing monies from central government will necessitate. But it means that we are having to make genuinely difficult choices about what services stay and what services have to go. I can well imagine that the time is fast approaching when we in West Lindsey will have to follow all the other parts of Lincolnshire in paying for our green wheelie bin garden waste collection. I do not envy colleagues who are less well placed, such as County Council colleagues who have a significantly more difficult task in balancing their budgets with pressures around adult social care and delivery of essential services. Locally our county councillor Jackie Brockway is a huge asset to us and I very much look forward to supporting her campaign for re-election in the coming year.

In 2017 I hope we can renew our commitment to make our communities better, putting aside partisan tendencies, and working with one another on the many things we agree upon. For each and all I offer my sincere wish for health, prosperity and happiness.

Giles McNeill – Working hard for the Nettleham Ward


Locals Welcome News of Resurfacing Work for Deepdale Lane

Giles McNeill, the Conservative District Councillor who represents the Nettleham Ward, has joined local residents in welcoming news from Lincolnshire County Council that resurfacing work will begin on Deepdale Lane in early December.

Lincolnshire County Council will be carrying our essential carriageway maintenance works on Deepdale Lane, Nettleham from Wednesday, 7th December 2016. The works are expected to be completed within two days with work being undertaken during the daytime (7:30am – 5:00pm), commencing at the junction with the A46 moving down towards the Scothern Road junction.

Because of the nature of the works the road will be closed to through traffic, with a fully signed diversion route in place. Local access to properties will be maintained although residents might experience slight delays or need to take advantage of the diversion route. Gatemen will be in place at each end of the road closure. Cllr. McNeill commented:

“I am very grateful to our County Councillor Jackie Brockway, who I know has been championing getting the terrible stretch of highway repaired. Keeping Nettleham in the gaze of decision makers is an important role that Jackie does very well. She promised to have Deepdale Lane tackled by Highways by the end of the year and it looks like she will be keeping her promise. It is one of the issue that I often get in my post-bag and I am please that action is being taken.”

Local Councillor Welcomes Government Action On Riseholme Park Plans

Cllr. Giles McNeill,  the Conservative West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham ward, that includes Risehome, has welcome news, announced by local parliamentarian Sir Edward Leigh, that the Government will commence legal action against the University of Lincoln.

The University of Lincoln has plans to demolish part of the Riseholme Park Campus and develop a housing. Sir Edward was speaking at the opening of Phase Two of the Riseholme College Showground Campus, he said:

 “I can also reveal today that the Department for Education, through the Skills Funding Agency, is taking steps to commence legal proceedings against the University of Lincoln over its plans to demolish the Riseholme Park Campus and replace it with a housing development.

“This unprecedented step has been confirmed to me in writing by the Skills Minister Robert Halfon.

“The land and assets at Riseholme Park are protected by a legally binding Asset Deed and the SFA has said it will proceed with legal action to enforce the deed unless the University makes a satisfactory offer to settle the dispute.

“This is a hugely significant development and one which will hopefully protect the campus for future use by generations of Lincolnshire farmers and other workers.”

The Government is clear that the value of the land is protected by an Asset Deed which was effected when the land was originally transferred from the Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture in 1994 to De Montfort University, who subsequently transferred to Lincoln University.

The University of Lincoln will be expected to make good its obligation by paying a sum for the value of the assets which they are no longer making available for the original purpose of further education. An asset deed can secure repayment for the value of the assets held or disposed of by the University, it cannot prevent the sale of the land by the university.

Cllr. Giles McNeill commented:

“I have been working hard with my Conservative colleagues, Jackie Brockway our County Councillor and Sir Edward on this issue. Today it is clear that the Government will uphold the Asset Deed on the site which is almost certainly going to force the University of Lincoln to reconsider their unpopular plans.

“I feel that the University of Lincoln continue to act in an imperious and arrogant manner. Their lack of respect for local people, or their elected representatives, endures. Universities should be places of learning, research and knowledge not an exercise in turning a profit. There persistent attitude calls into question their institution’s values.”

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