Council - Lack of understanding and not addressing issues for town

Following the Town Council meeting on April 10, I have to put on record the worrying responses to several agenda items which received unsatisfactory answers and showed a lack of understanding, which could impact on Horncastle financially.

The Chairman of the Estates Committee, when asked what the budget was for the new burial ground, said that he did not know or remember, and when he asked the Town Clerk to respond the same answer was given.

She did say they were in the process of going to tender, once the land had been purchased.

That was not the question. In my professional view, the response was unacceptable and a budget should have been set at the start of the project’s due diligence so that the funds needed, were identified from the capital reserve.

This has been stated as 113.5k, but without a budget is this enough and if not, how will the shortfall be funded?

This is public money and a better understanding of commercial procedures is needed to ensure the town can afford the costs within a budget which, in this case, has not been set.

This is an ‘open cheque’ approach which is not acceptable.

The CCTV in the town, cameras are being upgraded to wireless, by BT. The work started 18 months ago. Horncastle is still awaiting this upgrade.

ELDC are dealing with the contract with BT, but the council has not pursued the penalty clauses for delayed completion, which should have been in the contract between ELDC and BT so that the town is not disadvantaged, especially financially.

The town has two representatives in the Partnership of the CCTV organisation and whilst other towns have been upgraded, Horncastle still waits.

This is again not acceptable and the question has to be asked what are the town’s representatives doing to get this resolved, after 18 months.

The provision for two bus shelters on Lincoln Road, as part of the Condition 13 (Langton Rise housing development), set by the Appeal Inspector and accepted by the developer Cyden Homes, is now in doubt because, in my opinion and others, Lincolnshire County Council have reneged on their responsibility to take on the maintenance of the bus shelters when they are built.

Cyden Homes are now saying they are not going to take on the maintenance and are looking to the Town Council to step in, with the inherent responsibility and financial costs and risk.

LCC need to honour their responsibilities, which I would suggest were rightly assumed by the Inspector and the developer, otherwise why was the issue of ongoing maintenance not covered?

Again, my professional experience would say that the Town Council, if they are mindful to take on the maintenance, need to cover design, specification and construction by the developer and his contractor, providing a 15 collateral warranty, to protect the town.

Furthermore, the Town Council should negotiate a lump sum payment from Cyden Homes, to compensate for costs taking over their responsibilities, so that the condition is provided.

The location of these two bus stops is yet to be resolved and is not an easy solution. That needs to be resolved between Cyden Homes and LCC.

The report/commentary on the failing performance by the LCC Highways Department was not an acceptable discussion in the Council meeting.

It did not address the ongoing failings and demonstrated a lack of urgency in addressing the many unacceptable road conditions and pavements.

This week’s Horncastle News highlights the public’s concerns and frustrations and these concerns need to be addressed by our LCC councillor.

I would refer the public to the latest County News, page 15, which clearly states time scales for classes of repairs which are NOT being followed.

Some repairs recently carried out are defective and are LCC paying for this defective work?

I would question whether LCC are penalising their contractors.

Do the job once and do it right and not spend our money irresponsibly and then plead that the LCC have not enough money.

The town’s LCC councillor happily stated that an extra £3.8million had been granted by Government for road repairs.

We trust he will use every sinew to ensure Horncastle gets its fair share of this money, particularly as the Hemingby depot car park has just been resurfaced. Is that a priority? There is no justification for this expenditure.

I am advised that Coun R Davies, portfolio holder for Highways, will be attending a Town Council meeting some time in June/July to answer questions on Highway matters.

As many residents as possible need to attend and put pressure on getting failings addressed.

Read the Town Council web site under Town meetings or speak to the Town Clerk regarding the date of the meeting with Highways.

Richard Barker, RIBA.