County Council elections are happening in May this year, and electioneering has already started. Some candidates are promising the earth, including pie-in-the-sky promises that cannot be delivered.
Voters tend to fall into four different camps:
- Those that vote for the party they support, regardless of what is promised. This group seldom read the candidates manifestos
- Those that vote for someone local and not for a candidate that is parachuted in.
- Those that will always vote Independent
- Those that read all the manifestos and literature before casting their vote. This is the smallest group.
Unfortunately turnout in local elections tends to be low with only 28% of the electorate voting in 2019, to decide who runs local services. Why are people not interested in who delivers local services, and who sets their Council Tax ?
Where a Council is controlled by a Political Party with an overwhelming number of seats it is not healthy. Political Parties of any persuasion wielding this much power can do whatever they want, knowing that they will be elected the next time round, regardless of how bad they are. Their actions are not scrutinised properly, and the Leaders can act dictatorially
Lincolnshire County Council and SKDC are two such Councils. They are so overwhelmingly dominated by one party; Conservative, that can do whatever they want. Also the Conservative Party Councillors are subject to a political whip. They are told how to vote, even if it is not in the interests of their constituents.
Indeed Lincolnshire County Council voted to withdraw the funding for Deepings Library, even though the people clearly showed they did not want it. A petition with over 9,000 signatures was presented to County Hall, and the County Council was taken to court and found to have acted illegally, but they still pressed on with the Library closures.
After this Lincolnshire County Council changed the rules to make it harder for individuals or groups to petition the Council
Recently SKDC has closed their office in the Deepings, inconveniencing local residents who have queries that need answering, or want to pay their Council Tax, or for their green bin. Without local intervention Deeping would have been left with nothing, but it now looks like a terminal will be placed in the Library for local people to do their transactions.
At the end of 2020 an Independent report found that South Kesteven District Council “does not have adequate controls for housing compliance.” Indeed the report found that as a Landlord the Council had not undertaken safety checks for a number of years, putting tenants at risk.
The same report also revealed that elderly tenants in Riverside flats in Grantham were left without heating and hot water for three years.
Another report from the local government and social care ombudsman, has found that Lincolnshire County Council has been overcharging for care costs for nine years. Whilst LCC have not been punished, they have to repay the amount overcharged from Council Tax.
SKDC have recently been caught out, having agreed to underwrite the sum of £100,000 for a party to unveil a statue of Margaret Thatcher without any consultation. Whilst Conservative Councillors continued to support this decision, pressure from various quarters made the Council Cabinet change their mind. This would have been a vagrant disregard of democracy if it had happened,and misappropriation of Council tax money.
You will have noticed the potholes in the roads in Deeping and the surrounding area that deteriorate year after year. Roads are the responsibility of the County Council, and Cllr Richard Davies portfolio holder for Roads has repeatedly said that central government does not give the Council enough funds to mend the roads.
Lincolnshire Council leader Coun Martin Hill recently said: “The taxpayers of Lincolnshire should not be expected to cover indefinitely money which should go to road repairs that the Government holds from fuel duty.
“Continuing to invest in Lincolnshire’s infrastructure would have been an ideal way to continue the Government’s agenda of ‘levelling up’ the county. But a roads funding reduction of nearly 25 per cent seems completely counterproductive.”
This is quite ironic as both Richard Davies and Martin Hill are Conservative Councillors, that keep blaming the Conservative Government that they voted for and support for underfunding. It also questions how hard they are fighting for fair funding for Lincolnshire ? Are either Councillor prepared to put Lincolnshire first, withdrawing their support for the Conservative Government if the County does not get the funding it deserves? No………they will both put party before County.
Lincolnshire County Council have sent contractors to repair the potholes in Linchfield Road at least twice, but the state of the road is still unsafe. Are they incapable of getting it right first time? It is certainly a waste of tax payers money. How many other times and places have repairs been botched, and had to be done again?
The People of Lincolnshire deserve better, and 6th May 2021 is a chance to change things. A chance to make our District and County Councillors more representative of the people that elect them. So please exercise your democratic rights, local elections are very important.
But before you do read the manifestos of all the candidates, do not ignore them just because you have always voted for the same person or party:
- Check if their promises are realistic?
- If the candidate is an existing Councillor check their voting record? Do you agree with their beliefs?
- Are they local?
- Consider any Independent Candidates. They are not subject to a Party whip. They are only answerable to the electorate
We have a chance to make a change. LETS MAKE THAT CHANGE