Council Leader Reflects on his First 100 Days

Councillor Giles McNeill has had a busy start to life as leader of West Lindsey District Council. Reflecting on his first 100 days at the helm of the authority, Cllr McNeill said he was  ‘enormously proud’ to be elected by his fellow councillors, back in May. He added:

“I must admit I was a little daunted at what I was taking on. But it is a real privilege and one that I take seriously.”

Today, the council has announced plans to build a new purpose-built Central Depot and plans to build 130 new homes in one of its’ market towns. Infrastructure work is expected to start on site in early 2020.

It can also announce a successful grant award of £100,000 from Arts Council England for a series of Mayflower Pilgrim events in the next 2 years, which will fascinate local people and international visitors alike. The Mayflower voyage is a key historical event for communities across the UK, the US and the Netherlands. Gainsborough has a special connection to the Mayflower anniversary as separatist movements originated in this region that led them on their journey to America. Cllr McNeill said:

“I have been working hard to build consensus. On a cross-party basis. By working together we can achieve much; like the plans for a new central depot for our waste collection services.  This will enhance the quality of our services and conditions. I was pleased this passed through committee with unanimous cross-party support. Finding a solution has taken far too long, and in the past efforts to improve our facilities have become hampered by partisan concerns.”

Cllr McNeill was appointed as the new leader of the Council on May 20th and since then the authority has progressed with a number of key projects. He said:

“Marking my 100 days as Leader is not about me, it’s about recognising that, together, we have made real progress; and will continue to make real progress in the next 100 days, the months and the years ahead – helping us build a bright future for everyone in West Lindsey.”

Cllr McNeill highlighted the work taking place on boosting the district economy, including the announcement of a West Lindsey Feasibility Fund.

“This fund is available for all businesses in West Lindsey, who are considering the development of sites and premises or new technology and equipment which would support business growth and investment opportunities across the district.

“In addition to this, we are also offering business rate relief on some designated employment sites in the district to help boost the economy and create opportunities for more jobs. There is a lot more work taking place to boost the leisure economy in the district and we hope to announce the latest news very soon,” added Cllr McNeill.

He has also been keenly watching the developments of the Council’s leisure plans as work started on the new Market Rasen Leisure Centre. It has attracted a lot of interest in the town and from nearby students.

As someone who uses public transport regularly, Cllr McNeill was thrilled with the investment of Northern Rail, who opened up Gainsborough Central Station. He said:

“It was a huge community success that made the opening of the station happen and I am pleased to see it has been shortlisted for an award in the Community Rail Awards 2019, in the category ‘Influencing Positive Change’. This supports the full transport strategy which has been written for Gainsborough in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council.”

West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council are also working together on the installation of new traffic lights at the Corringham Road/Thorndike Way junction, which are expected to cost in the region of £1.5m. Cllr Giles McNeill said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Lincolnshire County Council and Greater Lincolnshire LEP to invest in this improvement work.

“Listening to residents on this issue, we were aware that further work was needed to make sure the area was safe. Not only will this ensure the continued improvement of safety in the area, it also means that the junction can cope with planned population growth in Gainsborough.”

The new junction is currently being designed, with work on the improvements expected to begin in 2020.

Plans are also progressing on building much-needed homes across the district. As previously reported, we have unlocked a £2.2 million Housing Infrastructure Fund from Homes England, which will deliver 796 dwellings in Gainsborough. Infrastructure work is set to begin in early 2020 to unlock the development, known as the Southern Urban Extension. In addition, £20 million grant funding has been sought to deliver circa 130 homes on Bowling Green Road in the town, subject to planning permission.

Cllr McNeill added:

“West Lindsey is an amazing place, full of thriving communities and wonderful people. It also faces challenges due its sparsity and rurality and has isolated pockets of the greatest deprivation in the country. Whilst it is an affordable area of the country, some areas have viability gaps, which we are discussing how to address with government building on our success in attracting £11 million grants so far in the last 2 years. However, we are committed to working hard and seeking solutions to get the best outcomes for our residents.”