The following District Council report was presented by Cllr Phil Dilks (Ind, Deeping St James) to Deeping St James Parish Council last Thursday 27 August, 2020.
Phil was the only one of the three DSJ District Councillors to submit a written report (The County Councillor submitted a report I will publish later). Nevertheless, Cllr Dilks was criticised by the Chair for not complying with Standing Orders requiring papers to be submitted via the Clerk and 72 hours ahead of a meeting. DSJ’s two Conservative Councillors, who had little to report, whined that Cllr Dilks’ report was overtly partly political and insisted there is ‘another side to the story’. When challenged to explain their alternative view, the Conservatives declined so I am afraid I can only present you with Cllr Dilks report, as follows:.
Disclaimer: The reports below are not written by me, I am merely publishing them for the benefit of those who wish to know what’s happening at SKDC and in the Deepings. I cannot take responsibility for any errors within or offence which may be caused. However, if any factual inaccuracies or other errors are brought to my attention I will do my best to correct them. NB. I have added the hyperlinks and photos.
Councillor Phil Dilks (Ind)
Report to Deeping St James Parish Council – August 2020
Cost of Covid…
Government grants mean the costs of the pandemic to SKDC in lost income and provision of extra services are now expected to be just over £1 million – down from earlier predictions of over £3 million. A revised budget with some capital projects deferred until next year is being worked on to bring finances back into balance and is expected to be presented to full Council in September.
Council Leader’s ‘errors of judgement’…
There have been calls for Cllr Kelham Cooke to resign as Leader of SKDC after he was caught breaking the Covid-19 social distancing rules he has been urging the rest of us to follow.
In what has been described as a serious error of judgement by someone in a position of power, photographs of Cllr Cooke taken on two separate occasions showing him and his mates ignoring social distancing rules have appeared in the local press and on television news.
Another management restructure …
The previous restructuring resulted in the entire senior management team leaving the council, almost £1 million in ‘payoffs’ to senior staff in exchange signing non-disclosure agreements and recruitment of a new senior management team.
At the request of Cllr Cooke, the Council’s third Chief Executive in as many years has launched a private consultation exercise with existing senior staff. The extent and costs and potential benefits of the restructuring is not yet known.
However, first casualty appears to be Steve Bowyer, Chief Exec of Invest SK, the council funded regeneration company. Mr Bowyer departed earlier this month following reports that his post was being reviewed.
(InvestSK is the council funded regeneration company set up a couple of years ago as part of the last management restructuring under former Leader Cllr Matthew Lee and his Deputy Cllr Kelham Cooke. InvestSK’s remit was curtailed earlier this year and its £1.4 million annual funding was reduced to approx. £800,000).
I have asked questions at Cabinet regarding Mr Bowyer’s sudden departure, but it is not yet known whether he received a payoff from the public purse, nor whether he and the Council or InvestSK have signed a non-disclosure agreement.
SKDC to be abolished….??
SKDC may disappear under local government re-organisation to be announced by the government in the autumn.
Lincolnshire County Council, under its Leader Cllr Martin Hill, is advocating a ‘unitary’ authority to cover the whole of Greater Lincolnshire – incorporating the south bank of the Humber. This would involve the abolition of the seven current district councils covering what is now Lincolnshire, as well as the unitaries covering the Scunthorpe (now North Lincolnshire) and Grimsby (now North East Lincolnshire).
SKDC’s Cabinet this month approved spending of up to £50,000 to help develop of a business case for local government reorganisation in Lincolnshire that best serves the needs of local residents.
All seven district councils in the current county are working together on the best way forward for local government in the county ahead of the Government’s White Paper on Recovery and Devolution due to be published in the autumn.
Apology for Ashley…
A Deepings councillor has received an apology from council chiefs after he was wrongly ‘ejected’ from an online council meeting.
Cllr Ashley Baxter lodged a formal complaint after he was repeatedly – and wrongly -removed from a meeting of the Council’s Licensing Committee.
This afternoon, I had an online meeting with Simon Richards, the new Chief Exec of South Lincs Citizens Advice Bureau which is financially supported by SKDC They have continued to provide online and telephone advice to people across the District during the pandemic and have seen enquiries regarding employment issues triple since March and predict a surge in demand for their services in the autumn following the end of the furlough scheme and possible ending of the moritorium on debt collections.
During August, I have attended numerous site visits in advance of planning applications and two lengthy Planning Committee meetings determining applications ranging from a drive-through coffee shop on the A1 southbound north of Grantham, an entry-level affordable scheme for Morton to an extension to a Bourne care home and an Aldi store in Grantham.
The consultation process linked to an application for an Aldi store on Uffington Road, Stamford provoked local calls for a similar store here in The Deepings.
Earlier today, I was one of two members of the Planning Committee invited to attend a four hour Planning and Design Panel meeting with developers, planners, highways officials and other professionals to discuss various major applications across the District which are in the pipeline.
A team representing Aldi were at the PAD meeting to discuss their Stamford application and I can say they confirmed they are taking the call for a Deepings Aldi seriously and are already considering potential local sites.
(The Stamford Aldi application – for a brownfield site Deepings side of Morrisons is to be determined by Committee on 30th September).
This month I have attended meetings of the Environment OSC and the Finance, Economic and Corporate.
Cllr Phil Dilks,
District and Parish Councillor
27 August 2020