Report to Market Deeping Town Council – December 2019

Report to MDTC Full Council  11th December 2019
from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.

Christmas Market

Undoubtedly the highlight of the month. This year’s Market Deeping Christmas Market was the best ever. I was pleased to be involved, once again, in organising the entertainments. It was a bit scary to find, at 10am, that the stage hadn’t arrived but some nifty reversing by the driver meant the show could go on with just a couple of amendments to the schedule.  I was also delighted to be involved in planning the ‘pop-up nativity’ which integrated the traditional stories of Christmas with the town’s traditional celebration of Christmas.

Meetings Attended!

19/11/2019   Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee

A distinct feeling of déjà vu at this meeting when, yet again, the report of performance indicators were criticised for being presented without any context.

I really don’t understand the problem as I have been able to find the historic data relating to each of the KPIs. Here is a graph showing the increase in the numbers of households in temporary accommodation (aka homeless) in South Kesteven.

19/11/2019   Companies Committee

Almost eighteen months after its incorporation, the scrutiny of InvestSK, the Council’s arms length economic development company finally began. The company which gets a ‘blank cheque’ for over £1.3million per annum was castigated for the lack of ambition and meaningful targets in its business plan. The other four Council companies will be scrutinised at future meetings.

26/11/2019   Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee

This meeting discussed the council’s policies on sky-lanterns and scrap metal dealers as well as progress towards a meaningful climate change strategy.

Sadly, the most contentious item on the agenda was my proposal that the Council install a charity-sponsored textiles bank on Council land in each of the four SK towns. This would improve the awareness and opportunity for recycling and decrease contamination of the silver bins. It would earn revenue for the Council.  All but one of the Tories on the committee voted against this no-cost measure. The Chair, Cllr Chris Benn (Con) declared he had an ethical problem with textiles recycling and stated (and I quote):

“I don’t care about charities. They get away with it because they are charities.”

Cllr Chris Benn (Con), Chair of SKDC Environment Ctte,

28/11/2019   Council

This meeting was relatively short because the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer had unilaterally decided that the four submitted motions could be seen as politically motivated and therefore in contravention of ‘purdah. This didn’t prevent an open debate about the awful situation at Grantham’s Riverside flats where residents have been without proper heating for 3 years.  The issue was first raised at Full Council back in January when the Cabinet Member at the time apologised for errors made in 2016 and gave assurance that measures were being put in place to resolve the issues that had occurred.  The Deputy Leader, Cllr Kelham Cooke (Con) also apologised about the situation and the amount of time it was taking to get the matter resolved.

Almost a year later, the situation has only just been resolved and Cllr Cooke, now speaking as Leader. Apologised again and promised it will never happen again etc.

10/12/2019   Cabinet

Yesterday, I attended the Cabinet meeting and asked questions about:

  • the closure of the Deepings All Weather Pitch which has been condemned
    (Answer: ‘We’re looking into it’ – SKDC continues to work with stakeholders)
  • the unfair charging of the sports clubs including Deepings United FC for use of the sports pitches which are maintained at the expense of people in the Deepings  (Answer: ‘We’re looking into it’)
  • the likelihood of feedback on the Sports consultations which took place in July
    (Answer: the feedback will be presented to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee in due course)
  • the future of the struggling Deepings Saturday market
     (Answer: ‘We’re looking into it’ – SKDC continues to work with stakeholders)
  • the legality of the proposals regarding leisure centre future management options which were discussed ‘in camera’ later in the meeting.

3/11/19  Climate Change Task and Finish Group

The second meeting of the ‘Task and Finish Group’ introduced the staff from the Carbon Trust who are going to assist in identifying the Council’s baseline data from which the target to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 will be referenced. I hope they have more success than I have in gathering meaningful data on the Council’s energy use.

General Election

I helped organise, and Chaired, a hustings for candidates in the South Holland and the Deepings. The event took place at the Deepings School and was hosted by Churches Together in the Deepings. It was generally friendly and orderly with a notable exception being the aggressive shouting and heckling of our local Brexit Party co-ordinator.  Thankfully, the police had a presence and were able to ask him to calm down. He left soon after.

As I said last month, it is the Conservatives who have turned off the streetlights, caused the rise in foodbanks, made the cuts to the Deepings Library and Deepings Youth Centre causing them to become dependent on volunteers and grants from the Town Council. It is the Conservatives who have chosen to cut budgets for schools, hospitals and police. The Conservatives have also failed to negotiate any acceptable resolution to Brexit.

Furthermore, it is the Conservative Government which has presided over the Brexit farce of the last four years.

As ever, if you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Cllr Ashley Baxter
Market and West Deeping Ward

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