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Town Council Round-Up: Ambulances, Budget, And Christmas Lights

October 22nd 2014

The Earthbound Misfits at  the Victorian 
Family Fayre

The Earthbound Misfits at the Victorian Family Fayre

Horror stories about the state of the local ambulance service periodically come up in council. And so it was on Tuesday, 21st October, when Councillor George Horton raised the issue during the town council's public forum. He outlined an incident of a man waiting an unacceptably long time before being taken to hospital by St John's Ambulance because a regular ambulance never arrived, which Councillor Horton branded as "totally unacceptable".

"That is not an ambulance service," Councillor Horton said. "We are not getting the quality of service that the town requires."

Councillor Trevor Marris recounted another incident regarding a man he described as "seriously injured" suffering from a delayed service. He went on to speak about the road traffic accident on Monday morning, which he described as "very sad". Councillor Marris described traffic jams resulting from that accident stretching from Victoria Road's crossroads with Brackenborough Road to Little Grimsby, and "articulated lorries going on to grass verges". He then discussed the possibility of a lower speed limit in that area. "50mph is too fast at Cordeaux Corner," he said.

Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders branded as "criminal" the failure to require road alterations before work was started on the site of the Brackenborough Lodge. "There have been so many deaths over the years at Cordeaux Corner," she said.

Mayor's remarks

The Mayor, Andrew Leonard, attended the opening of a card shop, and also the Victorian market. He described the latter as "very well supported," and "a great day."

Budget proposals

The council discussed proposals for its budget in 2015 to 2016. One topic was the annual grants to community groups. "I think more money should go into grants because we are here to help people," Councillor Laura Stephenson said.

Councillor Brian Burnett noted that an earlier annual figure had been 3000 (in 2012/13), which he described as "inadequate for the number of requests we got." He said: "I wouldn't be against putting that up to 6000".

"I think it should stay as it is," Councillor Margaret Ottaway said. She argued that "everybody else is having to budget."

Councillor Makinson-Sanders pointed out the amount of grants available from other tiers of local government, saying: "That comes out of people's rates." She described the town council's grant amount as "perfectly adequate".

Councillor Ottaway proposed keeping the level of grants at 5000. The town council voted by six votes to seven to leave the grant funding at 5000 per year.

The Mayor's parade

There was some discussion over the 1000 budget for the Mayor's parade. Councillor Stephenson said: "The only thing I think is worth spending any money on is if the young people are involved... This is not something we actually need. We need something that's going to be fun, that's going to make people want to be around. Let's make it something great, instead of just a load of people parading past someone."

"When you are the mayor and you are on that parade when you see the hundreds of people on the streets, they are all youngsters." Councillor Marris said. He argued in favour of the civic parade, saying: "We've got to keep all this. It's been going on for hundreds of years."

Councillor Margaret Ottaway said she was "absolutely mortified" by Councillor Stephenson's suggestion, and defended the event's appeal to young people. "The church was full," she said. "I think we needed a civic service. I really think we need 1000 for such things."

Councillor Chris Green described the streets during the civic service as "chock-a-block". He asserted the money was "definitely well worth spending."

Councillor Jack Wood disagreed with spending 1000 on it, saying: "It's not something kids nowadays want to go to at all." He spoke of other activities that the younger generation get involved in, saying: "Things need to change in order to become more modern."

Councillor Fran Treanor disagreed, saying: "It is tradition and history. If we start losing tradition and history we might as well turn the lights out and go home."

"There are about 150 people who watch, mostly younger children," Councillor Stephenson said. "To get these other people involved... we need to think differently."

"When I was mayor there were more than 150 people there," Councillor Burnett said. He described the event's value for networking with civic dignitaries, and said: "That event speaks for Louth."

Councillor Andrew Austin said he agreed "in principle with the need to engage with all, including the demographic that Councillor Stephenson is talking about. But I don't think we need to do that by burning our roots... I don't think we need to get rid of the civic parades."

"You are showcasing Louth," the Mayor said. "The one thing Louth does well is the pomp and circumstance."

The council voted to retain the civic expenses budget. This was a long discussion over what amounts to a relatively small percentage of the council's overall expenditure. I'm in favour of Louth retaining the Mayor's parade because it is the sort of eye-catching event that a tourist town can benefit from. However, it only promotes a small subset of the activities that young people can get involved in locally, so if it's going to be a showcase it could be expanded to incorporate more groups with roots in the town, allowing them to march. It could also include an element of celebrating specific points in Louth's history.

Councillor allowances

The question of whether to pay town councillors for their role came up. Unlike Mablethorpe and Skegness councils, Louth town council does not compensate councillors for anything other than expenses, which are often minor.

"I would be against any councillor getting paid," Councillor Marris said. "I got a living out of Louth and I felt I should give something back... You get the wrong people just doing it for the money."

Councillor Makinson-Sanders mentioned specific expenses such as computers, saying: "Nobody should be out of pocket for being a councillor... I would hate to think we stopped anybody doing this job."

The council voted unanimously against paying councillors. That doesn't apply to expenses, which are a separate budget item.

Flood alleviation

The Town Clerk, Linda Blankley, reported that the Environment Agency have agreed to pay the town's the legal fees for the flood alleviation scheme.

Christmas celebrations

There was a long discussion about the placement of the Christmas Crib. Number 12 Upgate, the Fish Shambles in Eastgate, and the market place next to the town's tree were some of the places under consideration. The council voted to delegate the Town Clerk authority to arrange its placement, with a ceiling of 200 for the potential cost of placing it in the town centre.

When it comes to Christmas lights, the council has had the fixings for mounting street lights tested for safety, and they have had to reduce the overall number of lights. However, solar powered Christmas trees that wrap around columns and work on programmable timers are under consideration, at a cost of around 200 each. "We do believe we can provide an effective display for the areas of the town where we've had to remove lights," the Town Clerk said.

The overall budget for lights is 8500, and the council voted to allow for an overspend of another 1000 if necessary.

Christmas lights will be switched on on November 27th at 6pm, in an event run by the Town Partnership.

Planning

In planning, major plans for 970 houses near Legbourne Road, and 240 houses near Grimsby Road, were both back for reconsideration. Unsurprisingly, the town council objected to the plans for the 970-dwelling Southern Gateway once again.

What was more shocking was the fact that they voted to support slightly amended plans for 240 houses near Grimsby Road, albeit by a very narrow majority. Both of these plans will now go to ELDC for a decision.



 


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