Reports to Nettleham Parish Council

Tuesday, 16th January 2018

District Councillor’s Report

Members will be aware of concerns raised with me about the process being adopted by the district council with regard to the reserved matters planning application by Truelove Property & Construction at land to the rear of 72 Scothern Road (Ref. 137106). Following these discussions I sought the advice of senior officers at the district council and our planning lawyer. I am pleased to report that I have received assurance from all three that the process that the district council is following is appropriate for a reserved matters application in these circumstances.

I have received one application for monies from my Councillors’ Initiative Fund from Buddies Demntia Cafe to assist their activities at the Nettleham Community Hub. I am considering an award of £100.00. Members will recall that I had previously reported that the Nettleham Village Hall Committee had also made contact and I had issued an application form; I have now, somewhat belatedly, received and approved an award of £225.00, which will help cover the cost of a new notice board. There remain no monies for allocation in the current year. A further £1,000.00 will be released at the start of April later this year.

I thought it might be of interest to include in this report a chart showing the allocations of where this funding has gone over the past two years. I think that we are very fortunate to have such a variety of recipients within the parish which just shows what a wonderfully dynamic and thriving community we have.

Since the last meeting of Nettleham Parish Council I have attended a Chairmen’s Briefing for the Governance and Audit Committee on Monday, 8th January which was followed by a Member Workshop on the Leisure Contract. You may be aware from Press reports that the district council is investing £7.8m in renewing its leisure services offer. The current contract cost the authority around £300,000 per annum. The new contract will include £1.4m for refurbishment of the West Lindsey Leisure Centre, in Gainsborough into a Leisure and Wellbeing centre which will be repaid to the council, plus 4%, over the 15 year life of the contract. More importantly for Nettleham residents, £6.4m will be invested in a new leisure centre at Market Rasen which will be around a twenty minute drive away or accessible by local public transport infrastructure. Over the same period the current contact would have cost council taxpayers £4.5m. The new contract will generate a revenue of around £2.4m over that period. I have also attended a meeting with the new Director of Estates, Ms Harvey Dowdy, from the University of Lincoln, on Tuesday, 9th January. I hope that we will all benefit from more positive relations in the future. On Wednesday, 10th January I was very pleased to chair a meeting of the Community Awards Panel. Plans are advancing well for this year’s awards and I would encourage the parish council to consider if there are any individual or groups that might be right for this sort of recognition. Information is on the council’s website: https://www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/my-council/my-councillors/chair-of-the-council/community-awards-2018/. By the time of tonight’s meeting I will have also chaired a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee, this will be preceded by training, the most important item under consideration by the committee, in my opinion, is the Draft Treasury Management Strategy 2018/19 which sets out the way in which the district council invests public money. With recent press interest in our commercialisation strategy this document sets out the banks and other organisations that we will deal with and provides a valuable analysis of performance and economic analysis.

I will be representing the district council at a meeting of the Association of Public Service Excellence in Edinburgh later this week which sadly means I will be missing a Member Workshop on the Review of the Constitution (Part III Code and Protocols) on Thursday, 19th January. A meeting of the Chief Officer Employment Committee will convene on Monday, 22nd January to consider the future senior management structure of the organisation. Later in the day there will be a meeting of Full Council. This will be broadcast live on the webcast services. I am very pleased to report that my group on the district council has decided to bring forward a motion supporting the delivery of affordable homes across the district, it is believed that the appropriate model for the district council would be a Local Housing Company and it is our intention to mandate officers to investigate how best we can ensure we are delivering appropriate housing in the district and play our part in tackling the lack of appropriate housing development. I will also be attending a meeting of the Leaders’ Panel on Friday, 26th January.


Monday, 11th December 2017

District Councillor’s Report

Members will recall that I was unable to attend the last Nettleham Parish Council in November as I was attending to my duties at the Guildhall in Gainsborough at a Full Council meeting. I had an emergency meeting with Grant White, the Enterprise & Community Services Manager, following an urgent appeal by the Nettleham Bowls Club. Further, you may well recollect from my previous report that I requested an agendum for the Parish Council’s meeting. I am pleased to report that the difficulties with the Bowls Club water supply have been resolved.

I was unable to attend the meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday, 15th November, as I had a meeting with the Lord President of the Council, the Rt. Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House (who is Visitor of my University). I can report that there were no matters directly affecting the ward for determination. Members may note the outcome of the application by Truelove Property & Construction at land to the rear of 72 Sudbrooke Road (Ref. 136312) that has been refused by officers through delegation. I attended a meeting of the Leaders’ Panel on Thursday, 16th November. It is clear that the embracing a commercial appraoch has had a substantial positive impact. It has been estimated that the savings and revenues generated by these activities are worth around £1.3m in the coming financial year. The likely level of the Council’s component of the average Band D of Council Tax is expected to be £206.19. Without the savings and income from commercial properties, business plans, the leisure contract, trade waste and car parking strategy – to name but a few – the figure would need to be £251.01, equivalent to a 25.65% increase on the current level, which would require a referendum. Commercialisation is a critical component of the majority administration’s strategy to continue to provide services. On Monday, 27th November I attended Garden Waste Consultation Workshop which summarised the responses received to the recent consultation on changes to the green waste wheelie bin service. On Tuesday, 5th December I attended a meeting of the Prosperous Communities Committee, as a substitute. The committee considered a number of papers relevant to the ward specifically those on Affordable Housing Contributions, the Garden Waste Service and the Home Choices ICT System.

I am expecting to attend a meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday, 13th December. There are no applications for determination in the ward; I will be taking the opportunity to welcome the outcome of the appeal at 6 Cross Street, Nettleham (Ref. 136096) which was dismissed. It is also likely that I shall be attending the meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday, 14th December as a substitute.

Finally, I have received one application for monies from my Councillors’ Initiative Fund from Nettleham Bridge Club that is running a bridge group for pupils of the junior school at lunchtimes, to assist them I cam considering an award of £95.00. Members will recall that I had reported that the Nettleham Village Hall Committee had also made contact and I had issued an application form to be completed, I have heard nothing further at this stage. The remaining amount of unallocated funding for this year is £100.00. A further £1,000.00 will be released at the start of April next year.

Finally I would like thank everyone who plays their part in helping to make Nettleham such a great place to live, work and enjoy I look forward to working with you in 2018 and I would like to wish each and all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


Monday, 13th November 2017

District Councillor’s Report

I have provided a detailed response to a local resident regarding the consultation of charging for the green garden waste wheelie bin service. Despite it being a comprehensive response the individual was unsatisfied with my reply as they felt it too closely aligned with the information being supplied by the Council. As a member of the majority administration it is disappointing that someone would expect that my response and that of officers would not fit hand in glove. After all, West Lindsey District Council is run by its elected members.

Since the last Nettleham Parish Council in October I have attended the first meeting of the Community Awards Panel, on Wednesday, 18th October, in preparedness for next year’s West Lindsey Community Awards. The ceremony is scheduled to take place on Monday, 23rd April 2018. I also attended a meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday, 18th October, there were no matters directly affecting the ward for determination, although I did take the opportunity to welcome the outcome of the appeal at 1 Kingsway, Nettleham (Ref 135552) which was dismissed.

I was in the chair for a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee, on Tuesday, 7th November where we considered a number of important items, of particular interest to members of the Parish Council, the report by Internal Audit into Development Management (Planning, as it is more commonly know). On balance the report shows that considerable improvements have been made since work started to focus efforts on improving these services in October 2015. I am indebted to former district councillor Malcolm Leaning who encouraged me to undertake a comprehensive review of these services and I am pleased to report that whilst there is still work to be done both the Planning Service (Development Control) and Section 106 Monitoring received a rating of substantial assurance from our auditors. This indicates that our internal auditors have concluded that they have considerable confidence that the activities of the Council on service delivery arrangements, management of risks and operation of controls and/or performance in these areas. It indicates that there is still some improvement needed to ensure that any risks of these activities not achieving these objectives is medium to low and evaluated that the management of risk is adequate. Meanwhile the auditors concluded that they only had limited assurance for Planning Enforcement. This indicated that the controls in place to ensure the delivery of this service area were found to not always be operating or inadequate. On that basis the auditors do not have a reasonable level of confidence that the risks to delivery are being effectively managed and it therefore follows that the activity will not achieve its objectives. Several months ago, prior to the report being written, additional resource was put into the enforcement team which should in future help improve this area of the Council’s work.

At Full Council on Monday, 13th November, this evening, I have tabled a motion related to the audit report on Development Management to ensure that it receives proper attention by all councillors and to agree, I hope, support for the recommendations our internal auditors. It also calls for making the additional resource in enforcement a component of the Council’s base budget.

I have been working with members of the Nettleham Bowls Club who are experiencing considerable problems with their water supply. I would like to request in my absence that an agenda item be added to the December meeting of the Parish Council to consider this matter, which in my view will likely need a joint approach at both a district and parish level.

Finally, I have approved the application for monies from my Councillors’ Initiative Fund from the Parish Council and passed this to officers at the Council for Confirmation of the award of £150.00. The Village Hall Committee has also made contact and I have issued an application form to be completed.


Wednesday, 16th October 2013

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund has currently one application for £500 from Lindum Rugby Club for a projector for the club house.  Please do tell local residents that this money is available from their local district councillors and I will help where I can.

The Elswitha Report, into the redevelopment of the old Guildhall in Gainsborough and surrounding area, has now been published.  A special meeting of the Governance & Audit Committee, of which I am Vice-Chairman, will be convened next Tuesday evening to discuss the report.  Audit Lincolnshire, who investigated the matter, identified a significant number of failures, in the early stages of the project, which has led to the project being terminated.  Both the political leadership and senior management of the Council are keen to learn from past mistakes.  The report makes it clear that a number of the Council’s aims were met.  The redevelopment of the site has not occurred, and this is a significant set back.

Since the Parish Council last met I have attended a meeting of the cross-party Library Consultation Working Group and assisted in formulating West Lindsey’s response to proposals from Lincolnshire County Council to reconfigure the libraries service.  I have attended meetings of the Planning Committee, where I am tonight, Governance and Audit Committee, where we signed off on the authority’s accounts, and last night Prosperous Communities Committee, where proposals for charging for Green Waste wheelie bins have been dropped, by the ruling Conservative group, as it would not be in line with our manifesto commitments.

At the beginning of the month I attended Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and spoke with Nick Boles MP, the planning minister, regarding concerns that have been raised about the Joint Planning Unit – which is now being scaled back.  I also spoke with the Secretary of State for Education, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, regarding some issues that I have become aware of through my role as a Governor at the Infant School, which I believe need to be redressed.  Unfortunately, owing to work commitments, I was unable to join colleagues on a Planning Tour of the district to see ‘planning in action’ which took place on Thursday, 3rd October.

Finally, I am hoping that proposals for amendments to the Council’s Constitution and scheme of delegation will be brought to the Governance & Audit Committee’s November meeting to consider changes which will hand power back to members to put planning applications before committee.


 Monday, 18th September 2017

District Councillor’s Report

Since the last Nettleham Parish Council meeting at the end of July I have attended two meetings of the Planning Committee.  At the July meeting the planning application (ref. 135567) for residential development off Deepdale Lane, Nettleham, comprising a new access road and junction, 50 dwellings, public open space and associated development together with a scheme for 22 apartments and 14 bungalows for the over 55s with communal areas, shared open space and off street car parking was granted permission, subject to concluding a S.106 agreement. There was no business directly affecting the ward at the August meeting. More recently I chaired a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee where I signed the Annual Statement of Accounts for 2016/17 and we received the ISA260 from our external auditors, KPMG, which gave us a glowing report and clean bill of health.

August is usually a quiet month for meetings at the Guildhall. Away from Gainsborough, I represented the district council at APSE’s annual conference and general meeting in Oxford over three days at the start of September. The theme for the conference was ‘beyond austerity’ and explored a range of areas in council service delivery on this theme. There was a key note speech by Lord Porter of Spalding, the Chairman of the LGA and West Lindsey were named as finalists in the APSE Service Awards in the category of commercialisation.

In the coming days I will be attending the Board Meeting of the Witham Third District Internal Drainage Board and substituting onto a meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee the main items for discussion are a number of commercial opportunities, the replacement of the civic motor, a bid to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, replacing the Housing Register and a Homelessness IT system (some of which are pink papers). The Planning Committee scheduled for Wednesday, 20th September has been cancelled. A site visit is being planned for early October, which indicates that the next Planning Committee will take place on Wednesday, 18th October.

I have been involved in plans for a crematorium in the district since the 2015 local elections. A few weeks ago the Council announced plans to consult on a proposal to build a crematorium in Lea, on the outskirts of Gainsborough. I would encourage local people to give their views on the scheme. You can do so by visiting www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/gainsboroughcrematorium.

The Council has also begun consulting on the introduction of a separate charge for the green garden waste service. All other local authorities in the county introduced charges some years ago – so it is testament to the well managed finances of West Lindsey District Council that only now is a charge being seriously considered for introduction. There is no sign that the cuts to Revenue Support Grant are going to be halted or not continue under the new government and certainly hope that an economic recovery might forestall having to make such a decision have not materialised. The consultation will run until Sunday, 19th November 2017.

Finally, I have had no further applications for my Councillors’ Initiative Fund monies since the last meeting of the Parish Council and the remaining amount stands at £1,570.00.


Tuesday, 25th July 2017

District Councillor’s Report

I am delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has issued a decision, in relation to the Appeal by Beal Homes Ltd. John H. Dixson, June H. Gauke and John R. Pickwell, by their inspector Mr. Boniface which dismisses the appeal for planning permission for 200 homes off Larch Avenue, Nettleham confirming the decision of the local planning authority, West Lindsey District Council.

Members will recollect that in early 2015 I led the case against, contrary to the officer’s recommendation to grant, subject to agreeing a section 106 agreement, and moved refusal and supplied the grounds for the refusal. As this was a decision to overturn an officer recommendation, as per protocol, it was incumbent on an elected member to lead the authority’s case at appeal. I did so. In this I was ably supported by the Council’s officers Messrs. Cadd and Backovic. Whilst the inspector did not lend weight to some of the ancillary arguments advanced for refusal; the decision confirms that West Lindsey does have a five year housing land supply and that the proposal would conflict with the spatial strategy and settlement hierarchy of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan. In terms of the proposal’s impact on character and appearance it would be harmful and be contrary to the local plan and Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan. The foregoing being the primary reasons, from the local planning authority’s point of view, for refusal.

I think it is also appropriate to recognise the contribution made by Parish Councillors Evans and Williams who represented the Parish’s interest in ensuring the integrity of the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan, throughout the process they were available to support me in my efforts to represent the local planning authority and provided information necessary to ensure that our approaches would, whilst separate endeavours, complement the others.

I know there were times, over the weeks, when I was writing the Statement of Case that I thought that it might prove in vain. After the confrontation at the hearings with Mr. Choonah, the appellant’s counsel, who has a fearsome, and well earned, reputation, I was even more concerned. Nevertheless, I knew that so long as the matter remain undetermined, and the Local Plan edged ever closer to adoption, our chances of victory increased. I have had several kind words from local residents thanking me for my efforts on their behalf and I know that similar comments have been expressed to the Parish Council. I expect that a more modest proposal for a development of around fifty homes, as per the allocation in the Local Plan, will come forward in due course.

Since the last Nettleham Parish Council meeting at the end of June I have attended a meeting of the Planning Committee. There was no business directly affecting the ward. I have also attended a meeting of the Chief Officer Employment Committee (COEC) and Full Council meeting at the start of the month. The Council’s Chief Executive Mrs. Manjeet Gill, has announced that she would step down from her position sighting the tragic and untimely death of her son and the failure to secure a devolution deal within the county as the primary reasons for her departure. Her responsibilities have been assigned to the Council’s three directors (or other appropriate management) for a period of six months, and COEC will meet in the autumn to consider next steps. I favour abolishing the role and continuing on with a Director appointment combining the role of Head of Paid Service (which is the statutory component of a Cheif Executive’s role), which would save the substantial salary the role has attracted in the past.  I have further attended a meeting of the Leaders’ Panel, as a substitute on the Prosperous Communities Committee, and a briefing for the Governance and Audit Committee meeting that took place on the afternoon of Tuesday, 25th July.

In the coming days I will be attending Planning Committee, where item 6. b) 135567 Deepdale Lane Nettleham, the planning application for residential development comprising a new access road and junction, 50 dwellings, public open space and associated development together with a scheme for 22 apartments and 14 bundalows for the over 55s with communal areas, shared open space and off street car parking will be considered. It is my intention to act as a member of the Planning Committee at this meeting as a district councillor and not abrogate that responsibility to make representations as a ward representative.

Finally, I have had no further applications for my Councillors’ Initiative Fund monies since the last meeting of the Parish Council and the remaining amount stands at £1,570.00.

 


Monday, 26th June 2017

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently being spent steadily. Each West Lindsey District Councillor has a pot of £3,000 to spend up to February 2019. It seemed fairest to me to split these monies into three equal amounts for each year. In the last civic year I awarded £880 to various projects:-

Nettleham Handbell Ringers for score lights (£30), the Mable Briggs Memorial Luncheon Club for new crockery (£400), The Queen’s 90th Birthday Street Party, in aid of  St. Barnabas Hospice (£200) and Nettleham Twinning Association for costs associated with the recent visit by representatives from Mulsanne (£250).

Currently I have allocated £550 for the current year. The only project currently funded is supporting training and supplies for a charity cross-channel row in aid of the Ethan Maull Charity by Market Rasen & District Round Table (£250). The charity supports parents to be able to stay with their children who are in ward E39 at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. I have also had applications from Nettleham Heritage Association (£100) for a replacement bench and the Nettleham Festive Market (£200) to support their plans for a festive market later this year. Both have had my approval and are awaiting confirmation from the officers at the Council to release the funds.

I have attended a meeting of the Planning Committee at the end of May. There was no business directly affecting the ward, however now that the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan is now in place it has markedly changed the dynamic of the decision process, to mean that committee can proceed in a more sure and confident form when determining an application. I was very pleased to see Cllr. Mrs. Angela White at her first Leaders’ Panel meeting, whilst these meetings are an opportunity for both senior elected members and officers to provide strategic leadership and horizon scanning, nevertheless it was welcome to have an ally in the room from our area. I also have chaired a meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee, two weeks ago, where we considered the annual report from the Council’s internal auditors and the unaudited Statement of Accounts, which are now available for elector inspection.

Following the last Parish Council meeting I requested that members submit the reference numbers of any planning applications where the online portal had caused problems. One person did so and this has been referred to the Council’s digital support team and the planning team to sort out. I am satisfied that this action has remedied the reported problem.

Later this week I will be attending the APSE Annual Seminar in Manchester considering the organisation’s latest research ‘Redefining Neighbourhoods: Beyond Austerity’. I also have an eye on the planned Public Hearings for the Beal Homes Appeal at Larch Avenue, it remains unclear if this is going ahead and on what basis, but I am working with my senior planning officer at the Council to be ready to make our case.

 


Wednesday, 16th October 2013

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund has currently one application for £500 from Lindum Rugby Club for a projector for the club house.  Please do tell local residents that this money is available from their local district councillors and I will help where I can.

The Elswitha Report, into the redevelopment of the old Guildhall in Gainsborough and surrounding area, has now been published.  A special meeting of the Governance & Audit Committee, of which I am Vice-Chairman, will be convened next Tuesday evening to discuss the report.  Audit Lincolnshire, who investigated the matter, identified a significant number of failures, in the early stages of the project, which has led to the project being terminated.  Both the political leadership and senior management of the Council are keen to learn from past mistakes.  The report makes it clear that a number of the Council’s aims were met.  The redevelopment of the site has not occurred, and this is a significant set back.

Since the Parish Council last met I have attended a meeting of the cross-party Library Consultation Working Group and assisted in formulating West Lindsey’s response to proposals from Lincolnshire County Council to reconfigure the libraries service.  I have attended meetings of the Planning Committee, where I am tonight, Governance and Audit Committee, where we signed off on the authority’s accounts, and last night Prosperous Communities Committee, where proposals for charging for Green Waste wheelie bins have been dropped, by the ruling Conservative group, as it would not be in line with our manifesto commitments.

At the beginning of the month I attended Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and spoke with Nick Boles MP, the planning minister, regarding concerns that have been raised about the Joint Planning Unit – which is now being scaled back.  I also spoke with the Secretary of State for Education, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, regarding some issues that I have become aware of through my role as a Governor at the Infant School, which I believe need to be redressed.  Unfortunately, owing to work commitments, I was unable to join colleagues on a Planning Tour of the district to see ‘planning in action’ which took place on Thursday, 3rd October.

Finally, I am hoping that proposals for amendments to the Council’s Constitution and scheme of delegation will be brought to the Governance & Audit Committee’s November meeting to consider changes which will hand power back to members to put planning applications before committee.

 


Tuesday, 23rd July 2013

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently unspent. I therefore have £4,000.00 left to be allocated before the end of March 2015.  The monies which were allocated from the previous round of the Councillor Initiative Fund to Nettleham Cricket Club were due to expire at the end of this month, however, I have supported Mr. David Wheatley who has requested that an extension be granted and such assurance was received earlier today from Ms Claire Vassey at West Lindsey District Council.

I have had contact with eight residents since the past Parish Council seeking my help on a range of issues. One resident has been particularly concerned at the way in which they were quoted a figure of around £130 for the collection of their spent kitchen units and the final bill came to around £400 – I am hoping to find out what went wrong and see if a refund might be able to be made.  I have had a number of residents contact me regarding the White Hart public house of the High Street, Nettleham (See attached e-mail). I am very grateful to Malcolm who has helped address this as I was poorly last week.

I was absent from the last Planning Committee meeting held since the last Parish Council Meetin, but have recently attended a number site visits from Blyton, east of Gainsborough, to sites locally at Cherry Willingham and Scothern.  I also have attended a Governance and Audit Committee and the Leaders’ Panel.

I have also attended my first meeting as a member of the Lincoln Area Dial-A-Ride Management Committee, which is a worthy organisation that serves many of Nettleham’s residents.

At the end of June I attended the Local Government Association and Sport England’s Leadership Academy at Roffey Park, Surrey. Ensuring that local residents are able to be active members of our communities is an important priority for West Lindsey District Council. New research by Birmingham University has demonstrated that for every pound spent on getting people to do half-an-hour of activity has a knock on effect of savings and efficiencies across the public sector of £21.


Tuesday, 18th December 2012

District Councillor’s Report

My Councillor Initiative Fund is currently at £130.00 not £170.00 as stated at the previous meeting. £30.00 has been allocated to Greetwell Parish Council for half a dozen Neighbourhood Watch scheme signs. I therefore have £100.00 left to be allocated before the end of December at which point it will be put with all other residuum into a Central Pot and bids will be welcomed from January until the end of March on a first-come-first-served-basis, with na upper limit of £500.

I have had contact with eleven residents since the past Parish Council seeking my help on a range of issues. One resident was particularly concerned at the possibility that the Skate Park did not enough volunteers and I suggested she contact the Parish Office if she was prepared to volunteer to assist with the project. I am also seeing what remedial action can be taken to improve the site next to 2 Larch Avenue which residents feel is a particularly unattractive entrance to that estate.

I have attended two Planning Committee meetings, including a site visit to Normanby-by-Spital to see the site of two proposed wind turbines, and a full Council. I have my first Governance and Audit Committee on Thursday.

I was very pleased to be at the West Lindsey District Council Community Awards event on Monday, 10th December where Nettleham’s very own Charles Shaw was named as the Witham Area Champion for 2012.