Councillors debate everything from paper to fear of job losses

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From no free paper for councillors, to fears over job losses, here is a round-up of East Lindsey District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday...

Paper and inkg

The leader of East Lindsey District Council, Coun Craig Leyland, sprang a nasty surprise on his 59 colleagues when he addressed the meeting of the authority.

As from that day, they will no longer be provided with free paper and ink cartridges.

This latest cutback follows a decision last March to scrap funding for their home broadband connections.

The new move prompted a protest from Coun George Horton who insisted: “We should be given the tools to do the job.”

Similar annoyance was sounded by Coun Terry Aldridge, who said replacement cartridges cost up to £70 each.

“We are being shortchanged,” he fumed.

In response, the leader reminded the meeting that the council was operating in a climate of austerity.

Healthy finances

The healthy state of East Lindsey District Council’s finances has been revealed in a report to members.

According to the most recent figures, its investment funds - monies put aside for a rainy day - stand at a bumper £32.71-million.

The authority has placed the cash with various banks, building societies and, subject to no financial shocks, is on course to benefit from at least £147,100 in interest by the end of the financial year.

Promoting tourism

A call has come for East Lindsey District Council to be more vigorous in promoting opportunities for ‘nature tourism’.

Although there are references to wildlife ‘hotspots’ such as Gibraltar Point and Donna Nook in its publicity brochures, ELDC is behind other coastal authorities in actively marketing the likes of birdwatching holidays which would boost trade by attracting visitors 12 months a year.

Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders demanded: “This sector could be worth over £55-million to our economy - what initiatives are being planned to plug into a potentially lucrative income stream?”

The portfolio holder for the coastal economy, Coun Steve Kirk, was unable to offer any immediate initiative but promised that nature tourism would be a ‘key feature’ in a new visitor destination website ‘currently under construction’.

Beach hut investigation

A ‘full investigation’ is being undertaken by East Lindsey District Council into how takings that accrued from the hire of its beach chalets came to be stolen.

This assurance was given by authority leader Coun Craig Leyland in response to a query by Coun Tony Howard, who asked him: “What lessons have been learned?”

Replied Coun Leyland: “Additional security measures have been put in place, and we may consider the adoption of a cashless method of booking and payment.”

No details were given about the value of the theft, but police are also involved with the probe.

Job fears

An alert on prospective job losses at East Lindsey District Council was sounded at a full meeting of the authority.

Noting that £1.5-million per annum would need to be saved over the next four years, Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders warned of an ‘inevitable long list of redundancies’ if services were ‘cut to the bone’.

Portfolio holder for finance Coun Nick Guyatt cautioned against the use of ‘alarmist language’ but commended his questioner for understanding ‘the scale of the complex challenge that lies ahead’.

Over the coming weeks, a series of councillor workshops will be held to examine how savings can be made.

Association membership

A U-turn by East Lindsey District Council on its membership of the Association of Drainage Authorities in Lincolnshire has been welcomed by Coun Terry Aldridge.

After withdrawing from membership in order to save a £23-per-annum subscription, ELDC decided to return to the fold following pressure from individual members such as Coun Aldridge and Coun Sid Dennis.

The former argued that pulling out would have sent ‘a wrong and negative’ message both to other local councils and to residents of the district, 
many of whom live in properties susceptible 
to flooding.

Industrial space

A ‘good range of industrial space’ has been made available across East Lindsey to encourage new and start-up businesses, according to authority leader Coun Craig Leyland.

He was responding to a complaint by Coun George Horton that there had been insufficient investment in units to encourage entrepreneurs.

The leader explained: “The council has developed small industrial units in Horncastle, Spilsby and Skegness as well as business centres in Mablethorpe in Louth, and it continues actively to manage all of these facilities.

“In addition to our own units, the council has invested in the development of employment sites, enabling the private sector to build small and medium-sized industrial units that are available to let.”

Cabinet defended

The leader of East Lindsey District Council, Coun Craig Leyland, has defended the cabinet-style of administration operated by the authority.

“It is clear and accountable,” he told Wednesday’s meeting.

He was responding to a question from a member of the public - James Hardaker - who was concerned that an executive board comprised of just eight of the authority’s 60 members was in a position to make decisions affecting whole communities.

“Isn’t there a fairer way?” he asked.