WLDC | Report Back | Winter 2016
WLDC | Report Back from District Councillors Angela White & Giles McNeill | Winter 2016
The predominant focus of the West Lindsey District Council in recent months has been devolution. The promise of £15 million a year over thirty years and more control over some services is at stake, with ten districts working together. This sounds good in principle, but in practice the main concern is the imposition of a mayor involving cost and another layer of bureaucracy. Councillors are divided in both the Conservative and Liberal parties. Some fear this may lead to the removal of district councils. Also, governments change and even when they don’t they change their minds.
On 10 October 2016, West Lindsey voted 17-12 in favour of the devolution agreement, with two abstentions. You can watch the webcast by going to the WLDC website. I watched the 19 October 2016 Lincolnshire County Council debate on
their webcast and it was a good alternative to the television programmes that evening.
My main involvement at the Guildhall in Gainsborough is participating in the two committees of which I am a member. They are the Governance & Audit Committee and the Challenge & Improvement Committee.
The Governance & Audit Committee
The Governance & Audit Committee, chaired by Councillor Giles McNeill, monitors the performance of the different departments at West Lindsey and how they are achieving, compared to targets. The main remit in September is the audit to check that the district is offering value for money. I learnt a new acronym: NNDR, which is another name for ‘Business Rates’ – ‘National Non-Domestic Rates’. Even the auditors reverted to ‘Business Rates’.
The council received the best possible audit outcome.
The Challenge & Improvement Committee
The Challenge & Improvement Committee has invited presentations by different services. Representatives of Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group have been twice. They have spoken about their part in the Strategical Transformational Plans for the NHS. There is a need to save money as demand grows and funding over time has reduced as a % of Gross National Product.
They are looking at waste. £1m was spent in Lincolnshire prescribing paracetamol in a year and it costs less per packet over the counter. They are also aiming to put more onus on services in the community.
We made some challenging comments about the present overload of community services, communication problems between hospital and GP services and within the hospital and lack of system ability to transfer information. As one of the objectives last year was to reduce referral to hospital, how does the recent announcement of the drive for early diagnosis of cancer align with this?
As a substitute for the Lincolnshire County Council Health Scrutiny Committee, I was made aware of the survey being carried out by all four commissioning groups in Lincolnshire. The website of our area group is: www.lincolnshirewestccg.nhs.uk.
The survey states the following:
The four Lincolnshire CCGs spend approximately £13.5 million per year on medicines that are available to buy over the counter. Many of these prescriptions are for short-term relief of minor ailments. A significant proportion of this money can be better spent meeting the healthcare needs of those requiring treatment for much more serious health problems.
There is no longer a separate Careers Service, so we have invited representatives of schools and colleges to come and explain their systems of education for careers. Two Senior leaders from Gainsborough Academy and Queen Elizabeth High School came to the last meeting. There are many disadvantaged young people in Gainsborough and the town does not offer a wide range of courses. They also have the cost of transport to colleges elsewhere. Young people in Nettleham are lucky in this respect, as they can choose courses from different schools and colleges nearby.
The Larch Avenue Appeal
The Larch Avenue Appeal was a hearing for one and a half days plus a lengthy site visit. The inspector was well-informed and fair to all parties. John Evans represented the Nettleham Parish Council and gave a strong defence of the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan. Councillor Giles McNeill assisted the West Lindsey Planning Officer.
We walked from the Old School to Larch Avenue, around the field to the Sewerage Farm, from which no odour came, up past the barns along the narrow road to Sudbrooke. We finished in Ridgeway, as the inspector had already visited Brookfield Avenue. It would have been a good walk without the serious intent, but opposing parties conversed in friendly fashion.
You may know the result as you read this.
Lincolnshire Police plans to work more closely with the Fire & Rescue Service
We were briefed on Lincolnshire Police plans to work more closely with the Fire & Rescue Service. Officers, but not the fire engines, from that service will move into Nettleham Police HQ. Most of the changes required will be achieved through a reorganisation of internal space, but there will be a small extension of the car park. This has attracted matched funding from the Police Innovation Fund and it is hoped will help us keep a Lincolnshire Police Force. There will be increased
co-operation involving all three emergency services, with a ‘Blue Light Multi-Service Hub’ at South Park.
The Councillor Initiative Fund
The Councillor Initiative Fund will continue for the next three years. This is to support local community groups. Applications can be made through your WLDC Councillors. There are other grants available, including the Small Community Grant and the Large Community Grant. Information about these and other funding is on the WLDC website (My Community: Grants and Funding).
West Lindsey District Councillor
Cllr Mrs Angela White
16 North Street, Nettleham
Lincoln, LN2 2PA
Telephone: 01522 824899