It’s time for a change

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:

  1. Those that vote for the party they support, regardless of what is promised. This group seldom read the candidates manifestos
  2. Those that vote for someone local and not for a candidate that is parachuted in.
  3. Those that will always vote Independent
  4. 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

A walk around Castle Bytham

Castle Bytham  is a village in Lincolnshire, England, located 9 miles (15 km) north of Stamford and 9 miles (15 km) west of Bourne.

Village Sign

At one time the village was an important commercial centre for the surrounding agricultural communities, but it is now largely a dormitory village, although a number of farming families remain with a much reduced workforce.

Before the Norman invasion of 1066, the manor  was owned by Morcar, King Harold’s brother-in-law, and nearby Morkery Wood, is named after him. The name Bytham was first recorded in 1067 and comes from the Old English word “bythme” meaning broad valley, or valley bottom The Domesday Book of 1086 records the village name as “West Bytham.”

William the Conqueror granted the manor at Bytham to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who probably erected the motte, or castle mound.

In 1224 the castle was held by William de Forze 3rd Earl of Abermarle, when King Henry III, aided by William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, besieged and destroyed the castle. It was burnt again during the Wars of the Roses two centuries later, and by the 16th  century, it was described as ruinous.

THE OLD SCHOOL

Situated behind  St James Church is The Old School, which was built in 1860,  and extended in 1890 and 1908. It was originally known as Castle Bytham Charity School, and later as Castle Bytham Endowed School. The school was transferred to Kesteven County Council on 16 May 1928, becoming Castle Bytham Council School, and it became Castle Bytham County School c.1947. The school was closed on 17th  July 1988,

Front door to the Old School

THE NEW CASTLE INN

Built around 1650 of local limestone, this Grade II Listed building features in the Good Beer Guide. The interior is an atmospheric mix of old oak beams and period furnishings, with the walls hung with antique prints, tapestries, heritage memorabilia from the village’s past, and some of the original deeds to the pub. The Castle was known for much of its life as The Three Tuns. An earlier Castle Inn was demolished in about 1959.

The Castle Inn

When Boris Johnson called time on pubs during the Covid pandemic, Will Stanton and Sue Farley, who run the Castle Inn sprang into action to open a village store. An outhouse at the pub which had been an antique bookbinder workshop was cleared out painted and converted into what is now a traditional 1960’s style village shop.

The new shop

WAR MEMORIAL IN CHURCHYARD OF ST JAMES’S CHURCH

This Grade II listed War Memorial erected is constructed of limestone ashlar, comprising a Latin cross with decorated arms set atop an octagonal, broached column with a plain moulded capital, mounted upon a square base and plinth. On the east face of the plinth is a slate tablet inscribed ‘SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN OF THIS PARISH WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE WAR 1939-1945’ followed by their names. The memorial is located in the north-west corner of the churchyard, just west of the church’s entrance.

War Memorial

CHURCH OF ST JAMES

The Grade I listed St James Church is situated just up from the Castle Inn and was probably founded in Norman times. The church is unusual in that it has a north entrance said to have a door on the devil’s side. It has a sundial dated 1774 on the south side, inscribed with the pun “Bee in Thyme”. There are interesting memorials in the churchyard including a poetic epitaph for a local blacksmith. Inside the church is another unusual focal point, the ancient belfry-ladder which is made from the old maypole and marked “THIS WARE THE MAYPOUL 1660” and is thought to have been used to celebrate the restoration of Charles II.

In 1816, landowner John Coverley gave the church a splendid 20-light chandelier, perhaps in thanksgiving after Waterloo. But there is also the suggestion that it was given as a simple memorial and took the form of a light as John was known to be losing his eyesight.

St James Church

BYTHAM CASTLE

Built upon a natural spur projecting into the valley of the River Tham, Bytham Castle was a significant motte-and-bailey fortification. It was surrounded by a sophisticated water management system creating a series of water features for economic and defensive reasons.

The origins of Bytham Castle are uncertain but it is possible the site was founded by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux in the late 11th century. However, the first recorded reference is not until 1141 when it was owned by William le Gros, 1st Earl of Albemarle, and Earl of York. Through the marriage of his daughter – Hawise, Countess of Aumale – it passed to William de Fortibus, 2nd Earl of Albemarle. His son, also called William, held it during the First Barons War and although he had been a signatory to Magna Carta ultimately supported King John during the conflict. Following that King’s death in October 1216, he supported Henry III including fighting at the Second Battle of Lincoln (1217). William soon fell out with the new regime however – which was dominated by Hubert de Burgh – and in 1220 he refused to obey orders to surrender Rockingham and Sauvey Castles. Both were forcibly retaken by the Crown and in 1221 William rose up in revolt. Henry III mobilised Royal forces against him, besieging and capturing Bytham Castle. Although William was eventually reconciled with Henry, Bytham Castle was granted to William de Colvile. The Colvile family, restored the Castle and lived there until the late 14th century. It was then occupied by Lady Alicia Basset, ‘Lady of Bytham’. Lady Alicia was said to be the wealthiest woman in Britain and was the grandmother of Henry V.

In the 15th century it fell into decline and by 1544 was in ruins; it was subsequently dismantled for building stone and by 1906 no stonework was visible above ground

Throughout the 11th and 12th  centuries, Bytham Castle would have been an earth and timber fortification. It is possible that William de Fortibus had commenced rebuilding some of the structure in stone but, if so, it was nevertheless substantially rebuilt by its new owner. Once completed it was a significant structure with a huge shell keep dominating the summit of the 18m motte. Internally this had several rectangular buildings arranged around a central courtyard possibly with a donjon, a type of  tower or Keep,  in the southern section. A small mound of similar height to the east of the main motte, which was connected by a narrow causeway and occupied by a hexagonal tower, has been interpreted as an internal barbican. An ‘L’ shaped inner bailey, divided into two courtyards, was located to the south/east of the motte and contained all the ancillary buildings associated with such a settlement including brewhouse, bakehouse, kitchen and stables. An outer bailey was established between the stream and the motte although this seems to have lacked any defences suggesting it was simply used as pasture. The entire site was surrounded by extensive water features controlled by dams and sluices for both defensive and economic needs including fishing, powering mills and provision of fresh water. The system of channels, drains, ponds and sluices were created on the original course of the River Tham.

To the north and west of the motte and bailey is a depression known as Castle Yard, created by channeling the river across the valley floor. South of the castle are the remains of a fishpond divided into two tanks by a central island. These former water features are now dry, as are several secondary, small pools.

Castle Site

The present river channel was built in the medieval period as a leat to carry water away from the castle when the water level rose to high.

Southwest of the castle is a bank that the only remaining feature of a medieval wall built to defend the settlement that grew up beside the castle.

The castle was clearly highly regarded for in the late 14th century John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster chose to raise his children at Bytham including Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV). He later did the same with several of his younger children including John, Duke of Bedford and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Nevertheless the castle declined in the 16th century and was reported as ruinous by 1544. It was subsequently plundered for its stone leaving just the earthworks and foundations seen today. Regrettably there is no public access onto the castle mound itself.

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and founder of the Plantagenet line of rulers is my 20th Great Grandfather.

The remains of the motte and bailey castle at Castle Bytham survive in good condition. Part excavation of the site in the 19th century demonstrated the high level of survival of structural and artefactual remains while leaving the majority of deposits intact. The castle itself is of a particularly rare type in having an internal barbican, one of very few examples in this country; the construction, occupation and siege of the castle are well documented and provide the opportunity to identify specific archaeological deposits with recorded historical events. The water control system and settlement defences associated with the castle are outstanding in Lincolnshire and survive in excellent condition, having been relatively unaltered since medieval times. The archaeological relationships between the complementary elements of the castle will show us how a high status establishment of this type functioned, both as a defensive system and as an economic, social and symbolic force in the local and regional landscape.

Castle Motte
River Tham
Village pond

What is a Mycophagist and a Mycophile ?

I am both a “mycophagist” and a “mycophile” But it’s ok, neither are illegal, and I am not about to be arrested.

A “mycophagist” is a person or animal that eats mushrooms.

A “mycophile” is a person who hunts and collects wild edible mushrooms

When I tell people I collect mushrooms I am usually told: “you are brave”, or “you wouldn’t catch me doing that,” and sometimes “isn’t that dangerous.” This fear of mushrooms “mycophobia” is prevalent amongst the British, whereas in many other countries collecting and eating wild mushrooms is common. This fear is based on the notion that some mushrooms are poisonous, but these people are missing out on tasting some of the best food that nature has provided.

So let’s put some perspective on this:

  • Globally there are 100,000 species of fungi, of which about 100 are thought to be poisonous to humans
  • In the UK we have over 15,000 species of fungi, of which about 200 are edible, and only 50 are poisonous. The rest are inedible, or tasteless.
  • Most mushroom poisoning is not fatal, and in fact in the UK is very rare.

Wild Food UK. lists 3 good rules for avoiding poisonous mushrooms if you are a novice:

  1. Avoid mushrooms with white gills, a skirt or ring on the stem and a bulbous or sack like base called a volva. You may be missing out on some good edible fungi but it means you will be avoiding the deadly members of the Amanita family.
  1. Avoid mushrooms with red on the cap or stem. Again you will be missing out on some good mushrooms but more importantly you won’t be picking poisonous ones.
  2. Finally don’t consume any mushrooms unless you are 100% sure of what they are. I know I have already mentioned this but it is by far the most important rule.

To make mushrooming even safer I would suggest you learn to identify certain species that are unmistakeable, good to eat, and have no dangerous lookalikes:

  • Giant Puffball – giant puffballs grow to be 10 to 50 centimetres (4 to 20 inches) in diameter. The inside of mature Giant puffballs is greenish brown, whereas the interior of immature puffballs is white. The large white mushrooms are edible when young, so only eat those that are white inside. Can be sliced and fried like a steak or breaded and fried for a better texture.

  • Beefsteak Fungus – this fungus has a slightly acidic taste, and is sometimes referred to is ox-Tongue fungus due to it’s tongue to liver shaped semicircular bracket shape with an inflated edge when young flattening with age. The colour is red or red/pink/brown, and it is usually moist or sticky to touch. Average size 20 cms. It bleeds a dull red juice when cut, with the cut flesh further resembling meat. Slightly acidic or sour tasting getting stronger with age. Good as a meat substitute as it looks like the real thing.

  • Porcelain Fungus – found growing on trunks of diseased or dead beech trees and stumps, often in vast numbers, this white, thin mushroom has a slime covering, that makes it resemble fine porcelain. It is great for the pot as long as the tough stems are removed and the slime washed off.

  • Cauliflower Fungus – this odd looking though tasty woodland fungus maybe tricky to clean, but it is very easy to identify. Growing to a height of 25 cms, all the visible parts above ground are fattened lobes looking similar to a sea sponge, or cauliflower. The colouring can vary from light brown, through buff to yellow/grey and creamy white. It has a mild taste and a pleasant odour.nj

  • Dryads Saddle – the largest capped mushroom in the UK, this fungus grows on deciduous trees and stumps. A large circular or fan shaped bracket growing up to 60 cms across. JOchre to dark yellow with darker, concentic circles of brown scales. The flesh is white, thick and succulent when young becoming leathery then corky as it matures. It smells of watermelon rind, and has a mild nutty flavour.

  • Hedgehog Fungus – an excellent, sweet, nutty taste with a crunchy texture, a gourmet mushroom. Can be slightly bitter when raw. The convex cap, can be uneven and even depressed in the middle, with the flesh creamy yellow to pale flesh/salmon pink coloured. This mushroom has spines, hence the name, which are white to salmon pink, growing up to 6mm long. As long as you find a light coloured mushroom growing from the ground with a stem and spines instead of gills it can’t be anything else. Can be found in dry Autumns when other mushrooms struggle.

  • Chicken of the Woods (as long as not growing on a Yew tree) – this fungus grows in large tiers on the trunk and stumps of Oak,  Cherry, Sweet Chestnut, Willow and Yew. With an average cap width of 45 cms It is globular and sulphur coloured to start with becoming fan-like and fading to pale yellow/ivory. With a solid and meaty texture. Smells mushrooms and tastes like chicken, it has the same texture as chicken and is good in stews as a veggie ‘meat’. Best eaten young as the older specimens become woody and acrid to the taste.

  • Wood Ears (as long as they are growing on elder). – a very common fungi that can be found year round. It is usually most abundant in January and February when there is not much else about. The fruiting body is ear-shaped, smooth or undulating, covered in very fine down and is tan, red/brown in colour. As long as you only collect these from elder trees they can only be Wood Ears. So to be safe avoid picking from other trees. It does not taste or smell strong, but is good if used in Asian style cooking or dried, ground to a fine powder and used as stock.

  • Horn of Plenty – this is an unmistakable mushroom that is quite uncommon. In fact it grows in only two places in Lincolnshire. They are very hard to spot among the leaf litter until you spot your first one, then if you are lucky, many appear. This mushroom is found hiding in leaf litter in deciduous woodland, usually in clusters with beech. Funnel or trumpet shaped with uneven edges, it is black on top and underneath. It is vary good to eat, and can be dried and stored for a long time. Because of it’s rarely please only pick a few, and leave some for next year.

BOLETES – the Boletus family are easy to identify as they don’t have gills but sponge like pores and generally stout stems.


There are two checks to make once you have identified a mushroom as a Bolete to determine its edibility. First, is there any red anywhere on the mushroom including the cap, stem or pores. If there is treat the mushroom as poisonous. Secondly cut the mushroom in half vertically, if the flesh immediately or rapidly stains blue, again treat it as poisonous. If the Bolete in question passes the above tests it isn’t a toxic mushroom. Sticking to the above rules means you will be missing out on some good edible mushrooms but more importantly avoiding any poisonous Boletes

  • JOYS OF MUSHROOMING – not only can you find delicious edible mushrooms, but you also get a walk in the outdoors.

    Don’t just look at the ground though, look up in the trees, and ahead of you. You may get a treat. There is a wood near me that I regularly visited where there was a magnificent white stag. The same wood also had a glade of wild garlic, that smelled wonderful.

    So don’t be afraid of the humble mushroom. They are beautiful to look at, and come in all shapes and sizes and colours. They grow solitarily and in clumps. High up in trees, and in the leaf litter, and in grassland. They are very important, providing nourishment to trees, as well as feeding on dead wood.

    Invest in an identification book, and have a look what you can find. But please stay safe, and if you are not 100% sure what type of mushroom it is don’t consume it.

    Deeping St James Parish Council, Allotments, Footpaths & Open Spaces Committee Meeting 21st January 2021

    Councillors today rejected a chance to vote for a rewilding scheme on Jubilee Park, and also failed to commit to adopting any rewilding in the Parish.

    A proposal to leave a metre of uncut grass around the edge of Woody Heights was rejected outright purely because it was considered it would attract litter, even though benefits would far outweigh the negatives by:

    • Being a cost neutral way of benefitting wildlife
    • Providing cover for birds and hedgehogs
    • Attracting insects, as extra food for birds
    • Providing seeds for birds
    • Encouraging slugs and snails to provide food for hedgehogs

    An email from SKDC proposing rewilding Jubilee Park, by establishing a wildlife bund on Thackers Way, and rewilding the area behind Pendelby Drive was discussed. The views of the public had previously been collated via social media, but these were not even considered, before the proposal was rejected.

    An attempt to gain an agreement by voting to support rewilding at other sites in Deeping St James was also unsuccessful.

    Welland Rivers Trust Lowland Steering Group Meeting

    Date: Wednesday 20th January 2021

    Present: Perry Burns (Welland River Trust), Andrew Bowell (Deeping St James Parish Council), Ashley Baxter (Ind. SKDC), Ric Chapman (Deeping St Nicholas Parish Council), Ken Otter (Tallington Parish Council)

    Update on previous suggestions:

    • Surfleet Newsletter. – nothing has progressed over the Christmas period.
    • Rewilding of Tongue End playing field – Ric is liaising with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and is exploring the best native plants for the area
    • Cleaning fish ladders in the Deepings – Andrew Bowell asked if this was something that could be done locally if volunteers could be found, training given, and equipment provided. Perry Burns will investigate
    • The various projects identified by Andrew Bowell at the previous meeting are still being considered, and one will be picked after considering benefits v costs.
    • Cowbit Washes – this is being investigated, but no information is yet available
    • Stamford Welland Canal – Ken Otter is working on this project to get the canal reopened. Deeping St James had been identified as a location for a marina.
    • Welland Footbridge Project – still proceeding, but nothing further to report.

    NEWSLETTER

    The idea of a quarterly newsletter was discussed, to inform local Parish Councils, groups, businesses and individuals about the work of the Steering Group. To include contact details for those interested in learning more or getting involved. Andrew Bowell agreed to produce an example for consideration.

    LAND OWNERSHIP PROJECT

    A presentation was given about this project that has been adopted by the Upper Welland Steering Group, and the Mid Catchment Area Steering Group. The aim is to ascertain via local knowledge, and Land Registry Searches etc who owns various pieces of land in the Welland catchment area. With permission of the landowner this information will be retained to help with future projects to improve biodiversity, as well as access to the river.

    WELLAND VALLEY PARTNERSHIP

    The Welland Valley Partnership was formed in August 2011 through the collaboration of government organisations, local authorities, private businesses and charities to identify the pressures on the River Welland catchment and take steps to address them together. It is one of more than 100 active catchment partnerships working towards improving the water environment in England.

    The Partnership, led by the Welland Rivers Trust, has been instrumental in setting out the new vision for the Welland Valley, and is supporting more than £3 million worth of projects in towns and rural areas within the Welland river basin. Projects so far have included the restoration of a millstream, creating wildlife habitats, helping farmers improve water quality, and creating brown trout spawning areas along the river.

    Their vision is that the River Welland, from its source near Market Harborough, Leicestershire, through to the tidal limit at Spalding, Lincolnshire, including all the many tributaries will:

    • Be cleaner and healthier
    • Continue to provide drainage and management flood risk
    • Support more fish, birds and other wildlife
    • Meet the needs of drinking water suppliers and businesses
    • Provide a more attractive place for people to enjoy
    • Be sensitively managed by everyone whose activities affect it

    This will be achieved by working with everyone who wants to help, including individuals, land managers, farmers, local communities, businesses, voluntary organisations, local authorities and government agencies.

    Partners are:

    • Angling Trust
    • Anglian Water
    • Beds, Cambs & Northants Wildlife Trust
    • Environment Agency
    • Fens for the Future Partnership
    • Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
    • Gnash Fishing Club
    • Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
    • Mayfly Fly Fishers
    • Market Harborough District Council
    • National Farmers Union
    • Natural England
    • Pond Conservatiin
    • Stamford Rivercare
    • South Lincs Fens Partnership
    • University of Leicester
    • Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board
    • Welland Rivers Trust
    • Wild Trout Trust
    • Woodland Trust
    Welland Catchment Area

    WELLAND INTERACTION SURVEY

    This is a short survey found at : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfDZxx_4fzkTA7LWUGVSEWYn3fFeONC91fJ6-F2lxItfI9Klw/viewform

    All entrants will be entered into a draw for a £100 voucher to be spent at a local store.

    WELLAND MEMORIES PROJECT

    Found at: http://www.wellandriverstrust.org.uk/welland-memories-project/

    We have inherited the history of the Welland and its tributaries from those who lived and worked in this landscape before us. This history provides us with a sense of place and gives meaning and context to the changing world we see around us. This project aims to create a digital place for the history of our rivers to be shared and passed down to those who are yet to inherit them.

    This can include art, literature, music, old photographs, or anything that brings the history of our rivers back to life.

    Suitable submissions will be hosted on a website with public accessibility, and perhaps inspire others to explore our rivers for the first time or allow those who are less able to access the river and share in the stories.

    If you are interested in taking part, please email memories@wellandriverstrust.org.uk

    Should Special Constables get a Council Tax break?

    The Special Constabulary can be traced back to the time of Alfred the Great in the 9th Century, and has evolved over time until The Police Act of 1964 established the Special Constabulary in its present form giving Chief Constables the power to appoint and manage Specials.

    Special Constables perform police duties under the supervision of regular officers and experienced specials, doing a diverse range of roles including:

    • conducting local, intelligence based patrols
    • taking part in crime prevention initiatives
    • policing major incidents
    • conducting inquiries
    • assisting at scenes of accidents
    • safeguarding the public at local and major events
    • tackling anti-social behaviour
    • spending time at local schools to educate on safety
    • providing operational support to regular officers

    Special Constables are unpaid, yet play a vital role in Policing Lincolnshire. Having the same powers as a full time Police Officer, Specials undertake the same training as their counterparts, and volunteer their time to help keep us all safe. Often putting themselves in danger to save others.

    But at the SKDC Council meeting held on Tuesday 12th January 2021, a way to show “Specials” they are appreciated was sadly rejected by the same local Councillors who, only a month before, had voted to set aside the sum of £100,000 of taxpayers money for a party to unveil a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham Town Centre. A statue that was previously rejected by Kensington Borough Council as being a target for vandals.

    Councillor Kelham Cooke and his entire Conservative Cabinet at South Kesteven District Council voted unanimously against an official request from Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones to give our Voluntary Special Constables a discount on their council tax bill.

    The Commissioner suggested the concession could be offered to his part-time officers who volunteer for at least 16 hours a month, but in fact volunteer for an average of 29 hours a month. The cost to the District Council of just £825 would show appreciation for up to 22 Special Constables.

    Cabinet members felt giving Specials a council tax break would open the doors to calls for NHS and other key workers for similar concessions, even though most key workers at least receive a wage. Part-time soldiers, retained firefighters and district councillors for example – including the council Leader and his Cabinet – also get paid.

    To dismiss this idea without having a debate is somewhat petty and mean, and I hope the opposition parties can force a debate and no party whips are invoke.

    I would like to thank Marc Jones the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for suggesting this initiative, and also Independent District Councillor Phil Dilks for promoting this idea on social media.

    Two Politicians from opposite ends of the political spectrum, putting rivalry to one side, to work together for fairness, and the good of the community.

    Deeping St James Parish Council Meeting 12th January 2021

    First of all Happy New Year to you all. Please follow Government advice and stay safe. With the development of a number of vaccines, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But we are not there yet.

    This extra-ordinary Council meeting was called to ratify the precept for the next financial year.

    With the effects of Covid and 3 lockdowns, there has been an underspend on the previous year, predominantly because no events were held in the Deepings, that either involved the Parish Council, or for which grants would have been issued to the organisers.

    The Parish Council has however been working throughout the Covid pandemic in conjunction with the Deepings Business Recovery Group, to help small businesses and sole traders that have slipped through the Governments Safety net. It is anticipated that further help will be required during the next financial year, as the people are vaccinated, and the country slowly returns to some sort of normally, and this was considered in the deliberations.

    Each Council Committee had previously been asked to prepare a budget for the next financial year. Various projects are also being anticipated, considered, and progressed, including:

    • Establishing a tree management plan for the village. To include Millennium Wood, together with trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders
    • Putting electricity and CCTV on Jubilee Park
    • Repairing the carpark and roadways at the Allotments site
    • Rewilding and wildflower schemes
    • An anticipated increase for grant requests due to the effects of Covid

    On top of all this the Parish Council also had to accommodate cost increases in maintaining services .

    After such a hard year, with people struggling on reduced incomes due to being furloughed, or being made redundant, it was hoped a reduction in the Parish Council portion of Council Tax could be achieved.

    The budget was presented to the Meeting, and it was agreed to a 4.70% decrease of the Band D charge for the Parish Council Precept. This is good news for Deeping St James residents, coming on the back of recent news about the abolition of the Deepings Special Expense Area Charge achieved after lobbying by Cllr’s Ashley Baxter and Phil Dilks.

    It was also announced that a vacancy for a Parish Councillor has occurred, due to a resignation. This will be advertised in the usual way.

    Finally dispensation was given to the Staffing Committee to deal with the recruitment of a replacement maintenance worker that has occurred, without constant reference back to full Council.

    The next full Council meeting will be held on Thursday 28th January 2021.

    SOUTH LINCS RESERVOIR MEETING

    DATE: Wednesday 16th December 2020

    Attendees:

    Andrew Bowell (Deeping St James Parish Council)
    Ken Otter (Tallington Parish Council)
    Virginia Moran (Market Deeping Town Council & SKDC)
    Trevor Purlant ( Maxey Parish Council)
    Adam Brookes (Market Deeping Parish Council)
    Harrish Bisnauthsing (Stamford Town Council & SKDC)
    Perry Burns (Welland River Trust)
    Brian Hembrow (Market Deeping Town Council)
    Maggie Ashcroft (West Deeping Parish Council)

    Introduction

    The Maxey Cut was dug in 1950 as a relief Channel to protect the Deepings from flooding

    Rutland Water was built in 1977 by damming the River Gwash, and took 3 months to fill. Today 95% of the water in Rutland Water is pumped from the Welland and the Nene. Water is released from the reservoir to keep the weir at Tallington in Water. From Tallington 30% goes to West Deeping and Molcey Mill, 65% goes through Lolham toDeepings, and the remaining 5% goes over the weir in to the Maxey Cut. The weir at Tallington is used to control the water in the Welland.

    South Lincolnshire Reservoir (SLR)

    We have reached the point where more water is required in South Lincolnshire than Rutland Water can provide, and a solution has to be found.

    The exact location for the SLR has not yet been decided upon, but it will be somewhere between Tongue End and Holbeach. It will be approx the size of Grafham Water.

    The original idea was to use the Fenland Waterways Link to supply the reservoir with water, pumping water from the Trent and the Witham, via the South Forty Foot and the Glen and the Welland. This would mean overcoming a number of problems including the 3 metre difference between the Forty Foot and the Glen at Guthram.

    Costs would by high, as the water would need to be purchased from a neighbouring authority, and a series of pumping stations would also need to be built.

    The original Fenland Waterway Link is now known as “The Three Cathedrals Link”, joining up Lincoln on the Witham, to Peterborough on the Nene, and finally Ely on the Ouse. This would allow, in future, a waterway link to the Norfolk Broads.

    When I asked if there was any chance of a branch arm to Deeping from the Crowland -Peterborough link I was informed that Anglian Water are seriously considering restoring the Stamford Canal.

    The Stamford Canal

    Restoring the Stamford Canal has been on the IWA list of canal projects for some time, and the suggestion was made that this would be a better alternative for transporting water to the new SLR. Water could be moved from Rutland Water to the South Lincs Reservoir with the following benefits:

    • It would save millions of pounds in building new infrastructure and pumping stations.
    • Moving water from Rutland Water to the SLR would be achieved by gravity, with no need for expensive pumping stations.
    • The SLR could be filled, and replenished quicker.
    • Money will be saved by not having to purchase water from another Authority, as all the water in Rutland Water is already owned by AWA.
    • It would bring visitors and narrow boats to the area, boosting the local economy, as they would use local services.
    • It would link Stamford and the Deepings to the UK Waterways network, boosting tourism.

    This option is now being seriously considered, although the Maxey Cut could be used, it would require more water treatment plants and cost.

    Whilst the Stamford Canal has eased to exist in many places along its route, it was never officially closed, and Act of Parliament permitting the Canal to be built has never been repealed.

    A volunteer group has now been formed to work towards the restoration of the Canal. The website is: Stamfordcanal.org.

    Welland River Trust

    I can remember the heydays when visitors came from all over the country to fish the River Welland, but since then the river has gradually declined, and is now in a poor shadow of itself. The flow has been reduced, resulting in silting and the loss of spawning grounds.

    It also has not been used as a commercial thoroughfare since the demise of the Canal

    The river is not just about angling, it can be used by people in a number of ways:

    • Walking
    • Bird watching
    • Boating
    • Community enjoyment
    o Raft Race
    o Duck Race
    o Playing on Scout Island
    o Swimming
    o Feeding the ducks
    • Picnics
    • Education

    I am sure there are other uses that I have missed, but what is noticeable is the fact that the use of the river has declined, along with the wildlife.

    The Welland Rivers Trust has established a Lowland Steering Group, with the aim of bringing people together from different parishes that are interested in improving their local rivers, improving areas for wildlife, whilst involving local people and businesses. This will be one of three steering groups: Upland, Middle and Lowland

    The Lowland steering group will become a vehicle for people to share ideas, knowledge and resources, whilst building community relationships. The Welland Rivers Trust will provide advice and support in co-developing projects for communities.

    • To improve the standard of the rivers to benefit the local wildlife, whilst balancing this with human use of the rivers
    • To develop projects that will attract visitors to the area, and boost the local economy, with no detriment to wildlife.
    • To preserve the commercial history of the river for further generations.

    I have been in touch with Jake Reeds, Fisheries Officer with the Environment Agency, asking about the prospect of restocking barbel in the Welland between Tallington and Deeping St James. These were common in the 1970’s with fish up to 5lbs being caught locally. To be successful this would require fast flowing well oxygenated gravels to spawn, which have been in decline for many years. The Environment Agency currently have habitat improvement schemes going on below Stamford, a lot of which are aimed at creating spawning gravels. If it gets to the situation where there may be enough in terms of habitat for the fish to survive and spawn successfully then it is something that could be looked at.

    I have also requested the 4 fish ladders in the Deepings to be cleaned out, and this has been passed to the fisheries team to deal with.

    As Sea Trout are no longer able to navigate through the Deepings, for a number of reasons, improvements have been made to the Maxey Cut, and this has now become an important waterway for the migration of these fish to their spawning grounds on the upper Welland.

    Welland Rivers Trust Lowland Steering Group Inaugural Meeting

    Date: Thursday 10th December 2020

    Attendees:

    Perry Burns – Community Engagement Officer, Welland River Trust (Chairman)
    Andrew Bowell – Deeping St James Parish Council
    Ken Otter – Tallington Parish Council
    Ric Chapman – Deeping St Nicholas Parish Councillor
    Granville Hawkes – Clerk to Surfleet Parish Council

    Ken Otter confirmed he is a River Warden and monitors the amount of water flowing over the weir at Tallington, into the Maxey Cut.

    TONGUE END PLAYING FIELD

    The playing field at Tongue End is situated next to the old school, and has been neglected for a number of years. Ric Chapman has identified this area for rewilding, and has arranged for the delivery of 420 trees from the Woodland Trust. A rewilding plan is being written, and work will start on the project sometime next year, when volunteers will be required to help with planting etc.

    WELLAND WETLAND

    I introduced this project

    The rivers Glen, Nene and the Great Ouse all have wetlands that flood in the winter. These areas attract migrating and overwintering birds, as well as reducing the risk of flooding elsewhere, and the birds attract visitors from all over the country. The visitors then spend money at local pubs, cafes, shops and places to stay.

    I suggested creating such a wetland on the Cowbit Washes. A feasibility study has already been completed, which has identified three sites between Crowland and Cowbit that may be suitable.

    If this project is to progress, the next steps are:

    • Contacting the landowners and obtaining agreement
    • Writing the proposal and business case
    • Applying for funding.

    So whilst it may happen, it is in the early stages, with a number of hurdles to overcome.

    TREE PLANTING PROJECT

    I introduced this project

    It was pointed out that between Sandy Lane, Deeping St James and Spalding, the river bank is devoid of tree life. It was agreed that more trees would improve the wildlife by creating:

    • Shelter for fish
    • Roosts and nesting sites for birds
    • Home for beetles and other insects, which in turn are food for birds.

    Someone has to be responsible for maintaining the trees however. This has to be investigated further.

    Areas for planting can be identified on Google Maps, with those areas that would get the most benefit being tackled first.

    RIVER FLOW IMPROVEMENTS

    I introduced this project

    Reference was made to channel improvement projects that have been installed near Stamford. These have been very successful in varying the speed of the flow, scouring the river bed to get rid of silt deposits, and exposing gravel runs that are attractive for certain species of spawning fish, and a number of insects that provide food for larger insects, amphibians, fish and birds, including:

    • Caddisfly
    • Damselfly nymphs
    • Dragonfly nymphs
    • Mayfly nymphs

    The area below Deeping St James Railway bridge round to the Folly outfall was identified as a good place to build these structures, and the area needs surveying to ascertain what is required.

    WELLAND FOOTBRIDGE PROJECT

    I mentioned this project as one that Deeping St James Parish Council is involved with in conjunction with Northern Footpath Alliance, and also mentioned the benefits to walkers and the wider community.

    FISH LADDERS

    I introduced this topic.

    The 4 fish ladders on the River Welland through the Deepings are in need of being cleaned out so they can be used, and this has already been pointed out to the Environment Agency, who have passed it to their maintenance team.

    It was suggested that this is the kind of project that could be adopted by volunteers.

    STEERING GROUP NEWSLETTER

    I introduced this topic as a way of promoting the Steering Group, as well as informing local Councils, individuals and community groups of the work being done.

    It was agreed that this was a good idea, and each member of the group would write an article, for Perry to publish.

    HEDGE PLANTING

    It was agreed on the benefits of planting more hedges. Areas will be identified for planting in the future.

    The next meeting will be in January 2021

    Deeping St James Parish Council Meeting Thursday 17th December 2020

    In the Public Forum Andy Cardell spoke about the problems faced by Deepings Swimming Club. The fees to use the swimming pool at Deepings Leisure Centre have been increased by 29% by One Life, and due to Covid, they have been unable to hold their annual Swimming Gala, which is one of their major fund raisers. This has resulted in a situation where the Swimming Club needs extra help. They were advised to submit a grant application for consideration.

    County Councillor Barry Dobson reported that Lincolnshire County Council is establishing a joint committee with both North and North East Lincolnshire Councils, so that Greater Lincolnshire can plan forward to reaching its full potential with an alignment of services and collaborative working together, to improve services to residents, businesses and visitors. It was questioned whether this was a prerequisite to The County Council leader Martin Hill making another bid to create a Unified Authority remote from the south of the county, which would not be good for the Deepings.

    Councillors agreed to continue supporting Deepings Library for another year. The Library continues to operate during the Covid Tier 3 with a reduced service, but has suffered from a reduction in income. Books can be a lifeline for people who are isolated alone.

    An application from Deeping Youth Group for financial support for next year was met with mixed reactions . Following a discussion on problems within the Youth Group, it was agreed to continue with financial assistance for another year, subject to certain conditions.

    The Parish Council now had a representative on The Welland River Trust Lowland Steering Group, which has been set up to improve the river Welland and its tributaries and catchment area.

    • To improve the standard of the rivers to benefit the local wildlife, whilst balancing this with human use of the rivers
    • To develop projects that will attract visitors to the area, and boost the local economy, with no detriment to wildlife.
    • To preserve the commercial history of the river for further generations.

    The Council received a report from Cllr Bowell on the first Steering Group meeting, where several projects were earmarked that would benefit the river. These included:

    • Creating a new nature reserve at Tongue End on the old village playing fields
    • Restocking barbel
    • Using brushwood to alter the flow of the river
    • Cleaning out the fish ladders through the Deepings
    • Tree planting along the river
    • Creating a Welland wetland on the Cowbit Washes, which would have a financial boost to the local economy.

    It was also acknowledged that the River Welland was a poor shadow of itself, having suffered with pollution over the years.