I thought it might be useful to repeat the article below, copied from a Lincolnshire Echo online article. Obviously, all those who voted UKIP last Thursday, either didn’t read this sort of information, or they simply didn’t care enough about the issues referred to, compared to the national ones being pursued by UKIP. I’m not seeking to criticise those who voted UKIP, but rather use it to emphasise the anger and frustration with David Cameron’s policies, I experienced from people, whilst out campaigning.
Knowing how unhappy people are with what’s going on nationally and adding this to the local issues that have resulted from the EU’s open door policy, it’s hardly surprising that UKIP did so well, whilst making little or no effort. Despite all the assurances that politicians offer when confronted by the public on an issue, be it letters, petitions, or even protest marches, the only time they ever seem to really act, is when they get caned at the ballot box. Is it any wonder then that, despite being asked to only vote on local issues in local elections, voters take the only course of action that seems to work, the protest vote?
Conservative candidates used the track record of the Conservative controlled county council, on LOCAL issues, as the basis for their campaigning – naively it would now seem, at least in this part of Lincolnshire. Meanwhile, nationally, UKIP were attacking David Cameron’s more unpopular policies, many of them easy targets: *An EU referendum, but only if you vote him back in 2015. *Control of immigration (but not from within the EU). *Ring fencing the overseas aid budget and even increasing it, despite almost every other budget being cut and further cuts to come. *Pushing gay marriage through, even when it wasn’t in the Party’s General Election manifesto.
This allowed local UKIP candidates to jump on the national issues bandwagon, whilst doing virtually nothing locally, apart from promise to fill every pothole in Lincolnshire, but without saying where they would get the money from. Speaking to people in the Spalding South Division after the election, it seems that only myself and the incumbent Independent candidate, bothered to communicate with the vast majority of them in any way. It would seem that the winning UKIP candidate simply sat back and relied on the national campaign to do his work for him.
More locally, people are angry and frustrated by the results of being members of the EU and the high levels of East European migrant workers in South Lincolnshire, that has resulted from this. UKIP have ruthlessly exploited these concerns, but have not made clear how they would change things – because, in reality, they can’t.
Fortunately, the Conservatives are still the largest party on the county council and will now be seeking an alliance with one of the smaller grouping, in order to form a controlling group. I’m pretty sure this will not be UKIP. I sincerely hope, for the sake of the residents they now represent, the UKIP councillors stick to addressing local issues and seeking local solutions. However, the alternative is more likely. That they will waste everybody’s time, by acting as local mouthpieces for UKIP’s national agenda.
Tough choices lie ahead for councillors – Thursday, April 25, 2013
THE Lincolnshire County Council elections are just days away – and the new intake will have to contend with a whole raft of difficult issues. From crumbling roads and care provision to the future of libraries and coping with cuts, the situation will be complex. Here, we examine the key areas…
TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS
There is one subject which hits the headlines time and time again – in Lincolnshire and that is roads. From calls for new ones to the need to repair old ones, Our transport network is rarely out of the news. And incoming councillors at County Hall will pick up the baton on two ongoing, key subjects: the eastern bypass and potholes. It has been suggested that work on the eagerly-anticipated eastern bypass could begin in 2014, but the multi-million pound scheme still needs the nod from central government.
A number of county councillors have raised concerns over whether the building of the much-needed relief road will ever happen. Residents will hope inevitably be hoping that the new council will forge ahead with the project as a priority.
In addition, members will inherit the on-going pothole repair project.
Our roads are among the very worst in the country and it was revealed last summer that 80 per cent of highways were in need of repair. The county council received £6 million for essential road maintenance in Lincolnshire in December 2012. The Department for Transport gave the local authority the extra funding to be spent over the next two years on renewing, repairing and extending the life of roads across the county. Our next council will need to quickly prioritise road repairs because, as welcome as the money is, it will not go that far in such a vast county as Lincolnshire.
Of all the new council’s responsibilities, its Plans for social services will inevitably evoke the most garner huge attention. When they take to their seats in the council chamber, the new members assume responsibility for thousands of the most vulnerable adults and children in our county.
Yet with that role comes the constraints of an ever-decreasing budget and an ever-increasing demand for services.
Earlier this year, the Echo reported how children’s services face significant financial challenges, despite saving more than £22 million since 2011. Further savings of £3.9 million will need to be made by 2015. This comes after central Government announced a reduction to the Early Intervention Grant and the Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant following school conversions to academy status. In addition, the way in which care for vulnerable adults is organised cannot be sustained, according to a report by finance bosses.
Despite making predicted savings of £9.5 million in 2012/13, further significant savings must be made. Council cash bosses said that ‘a complete transformation is required’.
The council introduced a personal budget system for buying care in its last term. While this was generally welcomed by users of children’s services, it proved unpopular with the families of some vulnerable adults. The new members will need to make brave decisions about how they balance the need for robust support services with reductions in funding.
The subject of day centres has been a sore point for thousands across Lincolnshire for almost two years now. Lincolnshire County Council decided to close the 31 authority-led centres in the county in 2011. But joint petitions, with more than 8,000 signatures opposing the plans, saw the council changes its mind and give the centres two years of support, starting in March, 2012. But it has been announced seven day centres are already set to close.
While the authority desperately searches for ways of saving millions of pounds from its budget, there remains a fundamental need for quality services for adults with physical and learning disabilities. The closure of some day centres has caused uproar in some places, among users and politicians. Inevitably, there will be hundreds of families across the county who wait with baited breath to see how the new council will progress on this highly controversial subject.
While doctors, nurses and 999 teams are at the coalface of the NHS in Lincolnshire, elected county councillors actually play a crucial behind-the-scenes role.
One major job of the new councillors will be to act as a watchdog, calling into account decisions by health bosses and scrutinising standards of care. There are currently two significant issues which the incoming council will inevitably face. Firstly is a controversial drive by our ambulance service, EMAS, to restructure where crews are based, reducing the amount of stations in Lincolnshire.
The council had grave concerns about the plans during its last term and had even muted the idea of a new Lincolnshire-only service. This issue is likely to return to the fore at some point after the election.
Secondly, the new council will have to deal with the fall-out from the public inquiry, which named and shamed Lincolnshire hospitals for its high death rates.
The elected members will have a responsibility to scrutinise the local NHS and make sure we are receiving the best possible services as since April 1 local authorities have a new statutory duty to take steps to improve the health of those in our communities.
The age of austerity has seen councils make cuts across the board.
Lincolnshire County Council has already taken £25m from its financial reserves over two years to cover some of the funding cuts imposed central government. Changes to grants and funding from the Government are unlikely to improve the situation and leisure and recreation could be one area which suffers particularly badly going forward – as it is often seen less vital than social care, fire and transport where cuts could put lives at risk. In the past three years, grants to leisure and recreation facilities have been cut from scores of sites in Lincolnshire.
The age of austerity has seen councils make cuts across the board. Lincolnshire County Council has already taken £25m from its financial reserves over two years to cover some of the funding cuts imposed central government.
Changes to grants and funding from the Government are unlikely to improve the situation and leisure and recreation could be one area which suffers particularly badly going forward – as it is often seen less vital than social care, fire and transport where cuts could put lives at risk.
In the past three years, grants to leisure and recreation facilities have been cut from scores of sites in Lincolnshire.
For many of us, libraries are a perfect venue to unwind and learn.
But as the country looks for ways to trim the national deficit, libraries become a prime target – not least because user numbers are falling. More than £2 million was cut from the library service in Lincolnshire last year and more could follow.
The future of mobile libraries are under threat and book loans to schools have been abolished.
Lincolnshire County Council has been involved in community efforts to save local libraries, such as the one on Saxilby which has moved from its previous dedicated library building to the village social club. More funding for libraries is unlikely to be made available in the next term of the council.
The future of rubbish tips was a huge talking point in 2012 and could well be on the agenda for Lincolnshire’s new county councillors.
As the council’s budget shrinks, councillors could find themselves discussing the possibility of tip closures. Following strong petitions last year, recycling centres in Whisby and Leadenham were saved from the axe. But opening hours at Lincolnshire’s 13 rubbish tips were trimmed as a result.
Meanwhile, there has been much controversy around the county’s reported £110 million “energy-from-waste” plant in North Hykeham.
The county council is the Fire Authority and has responsibility for the efficient provision of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be managing major cuts in Government funding. According to a report published last month, The Local Government Association estimates that by 2017/18 fire authorities across the country will have £600 million less in the coffers. It claims services will have 30 per cent less to spend in 2017/18 than now.