ELDC could face a ‘backlash’

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East Lindsey District Council could face a backlash from town and parish councils - if it attempts to hand over responsibility for key serv ic es.

The district council is looking to save £6 million over the next four years after seeing its level of Central Government funding slashed.

One avenue is to ‘devolve’ responsibility for delivering services to town and parish councils.

The list includes footpath lighting, public toilets, maintenance of public areas and markets.

ELDC has included the options in a ‘Transformation Programme’ document sent to town and parish councils.

In addition, ELDC has held a briefing with the smaller authorities.

However, the chairman of one of Lincolnshire’s biggest parish councils - Woodhall Spa - has warned they are ‘not equipped’ to take on extra responsibility - without hiking their own share of annual council tax bills.

Coun David Clarke also revealed the atmosphere at the briefing with ELDC was ‘frosty’ with many town and parish representatives unhappy at ELDC’s 
proposals.

Coun Clarke, speaking at a parish council meeting last week, said: “The general feeling is it is totally unrealistic of East Lindsey to expect us to take on more responsibility - without providing investment for training and staff so we can actually deliver services.

“We are all part-time and we are not equipped to take these services on.”

Coun Shirley Williams, questioned whether there was even a need for a district council - if town and parishes took on more services.

Coun Graham Keegan said he was particularly concerned about potential cuts to ELDC’s planning operations.

He claimed the planning enforcement team could be reduced, making it easier for builders and developers to flout regulations.

He said: “I fear that builders will do what they want because they (ELDC) will have no-one to check what is going on.”

Councillors discussed taking on more responsibility for planning matters in Woodhall - including new homes.

Coun Clarke said ELDC often ignored the parish council’s comments on planning applications.

However, he admitted having a bigger say would need funding but said 
councils would be reluctant to increase their share of tax bills.

He said a possible alternative could be a closer relationship with neighbouring councils which would enable costs to be shared.