Authority - Empower small councils

I see that the plan to have a referendum in May for a unitary authority for Lincolnshire has been cancelled, following legal advice.

I have also been seeing reports that the plan was to replace all councils in Lincolnshire, including parish and town councils, with a single unitary authority. This is a big mistake. We have a poor corporate memory at district and county and lots of times in parish council meetings I have seen somebody bring up snippets of information that change decisions.

Our small councils are suffering from an increasing lower morale. They feel that what they say is ignored yet at the same time an increasing load is being placed on them to take over lights, toilets, roadside and amenity grass cutting and libraries.

They feel comments and recommendation on planning applications are ignored and that they are poorly supported in terms of infrastructural support linked to housing development.

Now we face huge hikes in business rates, which will further accelerate the demise of town centres.

We need to not only keep our small councils but empower them to have a significant say on developing and supporting their communities.

Back to initiatives. We have spent a huge amount of time and money setting up a devolved authority only to back out as details emerged from Whitehall and now we are backing out of having a unitary authority.

Discussion on the proposal with districts was minimal and small councils were completely locked out.

Look now at the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for the NHS. 44 of these plans have been prepared across England without any of the teams talking to each other.

The result of this fragmentation is they could shut down maternity at Boston Pilgrim, which has just had a major refurbishment, and could also shut down maternity at Grimsby, leaving the coastal region without this service.

Mutterings are coming out of Whitehall that the STPs, which were all written in secret, are too expensive so the whole very expensive exercise could be a complete waste of time.

We need to learn to manage efficiently and learn to talk to others.

County Councillor Colin Mair