Report to MDTC Full Council 12th February, 2020 from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
Deeping Shorts – Film Festival
‘Deeping Shorts’ – a short festival of short films – has held two Saturday evening cinema screenings with two more to go (15th and 22nd February). The screenings have been well attended and well received. Tickets are £5 from Stamford Arts Centre or at Open Door Baptist Church on the night.
Leisure Centre / All Weather Pitch
News about the proposed Deepings Leisure Centre and the future of the condemned All Weather Pitch has failed to yield any concrete proposals (nor proposals for concrete). At Full Council, the new Portfolio Holder, Cllr Barry Dobson stated that a Working Party would be formed with representation from the 3 Deepings Independent Councillors. By the time of the Finance Committee a week later, this Working Party had been extended to include two Deeping Conservatives. A few minutes later, it was explained that the Working Party would be an overarching group for all Leisure Facilities in South Kesteven. When I asked for clarification, the Finance Committee was told there will be more than one Working Party. I later asked Cllr Dobson for written clarification of the roles, purpose and composition of the working party (or parties). A week later and I am still waiting.
Cllr Dobson also mentioned that nothing would be decided about Leisure Centres until he had visited the sites personally to see what was needed. This is slightly confusing given that the council has commissioned leisure professionals an architects to conduct feasibility studies at a cost of more than £250,000.
I am pleased to say the Communities Committee agreed to implement some of the measures recommended by the ‘Stop the Knock’ campaign which I had brought to their attention.
I am less pleased to say that they rubber-stamped proposals to ‘rationalise the face-to-face customer service provision’ in Stamford and the Deepings. This effectively means closing the SKDC offices at the Deepings Community Centre and at Maiden Lane in Stamford.
There is a consultation about the plans to close the Stamford and Deeping SKDC offices. The deadline is 20th February.
The Council meeting began with a silence in respectful memory of former Chair of SKDC, Cllr Peter Speigl and former Chair of the world’s longest running radio panel show and much-loved Grantham born entertainer, Nicholas Parsons CBE. The silence was, suitably, just a minute. It would have been great if all the afternoon’s debate could have been conducted without hesitation, repetition or deviation but this was unlikely from the outset.
Report to MDTC Full Council 15th January 2020 from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
Happy New Year to all Town and Parish Councillors, residents of the Deepings anyone else who is takin the time to read this. I hope your 2020 is splendid!
Regular readers will know that the Council (SKDC) declared a climate emergency in September 2019. SKDC has now appointed a Climate Change Officer and have also begun a set of ‘Task and Finish’ workshops and engaged the Carbon Trust to assist with compiling baseline data to ensure a meaningful Action Plan is delivered.
The market which was launched with much fanfare by InvestSK at Easter last year has struggled against inclement weather and lack of budget which has led to a spiral of decline with few stalls leading to few customers and vice versa. The last stall threw in the towel just before Christmas (and hats off to the Brown Bread stall for sticking it out for so long) and, in light of the lack of any traders, SKDC have decided to cease trading until later this year. It is not clear whether the Spring will bring a revived Saturday market or a relocation of the ongoing Wednesday market, or neither, or both.
Deeping Shorts – Film Festival
The Open Door Baptist Church is hosting ‘Deeping Shorts’ – a short festival of short films – on the first four Saturday evenings in February. It has been organised in association with the help and support of InvestSK/SKDC and will make use of the cinema screen originally purchased for the Deepings Arts Group. The films have been collated from 17 different countries and include a range of comedies, animations and thought provoking works. Many have won awards. Tickets are £5 from Stamford Arts Centre or at ODBC on the night. Here’s an excerpt from one of the films…
Report to MDTC Full Council 11th December 2019 from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
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.
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.
Report to MDTC Full Council 13th November 2019 from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
Deepings Neighbourhood Plan
The Neighbourhood Plan for the Deepings is currently in its consultation phase. If you care about the future of our community and its built environment, please respond to the consultation. Comments are particularly welcome concerning the future of Mill Field, the expansion of the town centre and the types and layout of new housing.
Market Deeping Christmas Market andlights switch-on will take place on Sunday 1st December. There are more than 80 stalls booked and the entertainment is going to be varied and awesome.
Stop the Knock
Last year, SKDC used bailiffs’ services for non payment of Council Tax over 2,000 times. The Council also evicted 31 of its own tenants. There surely must be a better way… and there is! The ‘Stop The Knock’ campaign is monitoring council’s approach to debt collection and has some innovative ideas for reducing the costs and heartache associated with council tax collection. I have written to the Council Leader and the Chair of the Rural and Communities OSC and officers have informed me that the subject will hopefully be discussed at an OSC meeting early in 2020.
Meetings Not Attended!
In terms of Council business, October
was a very quiet month with only 1 scheduled meeting. I’m not talking about my meetings, I mean
that South Kesteven District Council only had one formal meeting which was
Planning Committee on 16th October.
I don’t sit on the Planning Committee
at the moment but I had already sent comments and objections on two of the
applications which were on the agenda because I had asked for them to be
‘called in’ by the committee rather than considered only by the planning
The first was the erection of roadside services to including a petrol filling station with ancillary retail floor space on the Langtoft roundabout, north of Market Deeping. – This was the second time the committee had discussed this application and I am pleased to say that the application was refused, contrary to Officers’ recommendations. Not a single Councillor voted in favour of it (although two abstained). There were a variety of reasons for refusing it including the loss of a greenfield site, visual amenity and highways considerations.
Secondly an application to allow the
transfer of up to 75,000 tonnes of waste per annum at the existing waste depot
at Unit 2 Whitley Way Northfields Industrial Estate Market Deeping. This was a
County application but the SKDC planning committee discussed the application
and resolved to “urge the County Council to give due consideration to highway
implications including increased parking and possible adverse impacts on
amenity on surrounding developments, particularly the children’s nursery,
through odour noise, and other pollution that may result”.
The meeting also dealt with:
Four dwellings at 21 Broadgate Lane, DSJ (Reserved Matters) – Approved
Seven industrial units at Spitfire Park, Market Deeping – Approved
Meetings Attended (Climate Change)
the lack of ‘official meetings’, I have attended two council meetings, on
consecutive days, concerned with South Kesteven’s approach to Climate Change.
first was a workshop for members of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny
Committee (OSC) which heard evidence from the Environment Agency, the Woodland
Trust and the Council’s own planning team.
second was an inaugural meeting of the ‘Task and Finish Group’ on Climate
Change commissioned by September’s meeting of Full Council. It was meandering
at times but, on the whole, very productive.
The meeting was introduced to the fundamentals of Climate Science by the
external expert, Prof Edward Hanna
of Lincoln University.
from the meetings, I have been doing my homework regarding the council’s
environmental performance. I have discovered that in recent years recycling
rates have been falling due to a number of reasons mostly concerned with the
Conservatives’ cut backs. At the same
time, contamination of silver recycling bins has increased meaning even less
issue of the Council’s own energy use, officers are struggling even to
establish a baseline. It appears that
almost no proactive monitoring of energy consumption has taken place for nearly
a decade. The figures presented have
been incorrect and at times comical. For
example, it has been claimed that gas use at the small changing block next to
the all weather pitch adjacent to Deepings School field is three times as high
as gas use to the Council’s main office in Grantham. On the positive side, officers are beginning
to work with the suppliers and brokers to get more reliable information. It would be very difficult to achieve the
target of 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 without any baseline
John Hayes might be an affable chap but please don’t vote Conservative!!
Remember, 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.
As ever, if you require any further
information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
a meeting where we discussed the Council’s approach to Climate Change. I had
already proposed a Climate Emergency motion to Full Council (see below) but
Cllr Peter Moseley (Con) also proposed a similar idea. The OSC discussed the
idea of setting up a ‘Task and Finish’ group on Climate Change. This is
definitely a different forum to the ongoing secret workshops on climate change
commissioned by the previous OSC meeting. It will have 6 Councillors, 5
Officers and, at my suggestion, 1 external expert to offer an alternative
meeting we also discussed and (almost) agreed a new protocol for informing District
Councillors about trees in their respective wards. This should mean that we should
at least be made aware of imminent felling of trees by the Council even if we
might not be able to save them.
Committee also proposed to recommend to Cabinet that SKDC adopts the Woodland
Trust’s Local Authority Tree Charter. If this sounds familiar it is because it
is very, very similar to the Woodland Trust’s other tree charter which most
Conservative Councillors voted against when I presented it to Full Council a
few months ago. Happily, we have now reached an acceptable form of words and,
because it is now a Tory idea, we should be signed up very soon.
also discussed progress on some other issues including the Food Waste
Collection pilot scheme which has apparently been applauded by DEFRA for its
excellent participation rate although they haven’t yet gone so far as to offer
the additional funding required to roll it out across the district, let alone
the county or country.
Report to MDTC Full Council 11th September 2019
from ASHLEY BAXTER, SKDC Councillor for Market & West Deeping.
Greetings to all Town Councillors! I
hope you enjoyed your summer break. Here are some SKDC highlights from the
summer of 2019…
Resignations and Appointments
In July, the SKDC Chief Executive,
Aidan Rave, resigned from his post “to pursue new ventures”. Sources told the Grantham
Journal that there was a “clash of personalities” between him and
leader of the council, Cllr Matthew Lee (Con) which led to a “big row”.
The Council has
appointed Paul Thomas as an interim Chief Executive. Mr Thomas has been with
the Council for several years and, for what it’s worth, I think he is a
later, Cllr Matthew Lee resigned himself as Leader of the Conservatives and de
facto Leader of the Council. He did not publish any statement so we
can only speculate why he threw in the towel after just two years at the
Conservatives met on 2nd September to elect a new leader. Deputy Council
Leader Kelham Cooke competed with former Council Leader Bob Adams for the ‘honour’
and Cllr Cooke won the day. He is now almost certain to be formally elected as
Leader of the Council later this month. He has promised a new
more collaborative approach which would be most welcome.
Since the July meeting of MDTC, I have attended a few formal Council meetings.
Report to MDTC Full Council 12th July 2019 from ASHLEY BAXTER, one of the ten Councillors forming the Independent Group at SKDC.
I am pleased to report that, less than two months after the elections, one of the Conservatives has resigned the whip and become ‘Independent unaligned’. This means there are now 17 opposition councillors compared to 39 Tories. We just need 11 more defections and the Council will be on a knife-edge!
I have attended four formal Council meetings during the lastmonth.
This meeting was held to consider the call-in request that I had organised before the election in light of a decision by Cllr Adam Stokes (Con) to allocate money from the new Invest-to-save fund. Before the meeting I had submitted more than 20 written questions and I was pleased to discover that newly-elected Cllr Whittington (Con) had submitted some of his own. Continue reading →
first Full Council of the new administration was relatively long-winded mainly
because of an ‘argument’ over Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Committees.
Conservatives gained 53% of the votes at Cllr Matthew Lee (Con) chose to
allocate 100% of the positions of power to members of his own party. This
includes not only all 9 members of the SKDC Cabinet, but also every Chair and
Vice-Chair of the various regulatory and scrutiny committees. The Independents
challenged this as being clearly unfair but, as it turns out, all these posts
are awarded at the discretion of the Leader and there is nothing the Council
can do to challenge his power except remove him from the position of Leader.
This would require 29 out of 56 Councillors to vote against him. Given that
almost thirty of those Councillors had just been put ‘on the payroll’, it is
extremely unlikely that this would happen.
discussion among the Independent Group I have been awarded a place on the Environment
OSC, and the Governance and Audit Committees. I have also been appointed as one
of two Deputy Leaders of the Group. I might also be offered a place on the
Companies Committee which hasn’t yet been formal constituted.
Cllr Ian Selby (Independent, unaligned) complained again that he is discriminated against when it comes to committee purely because he doesn’t wish to join a political group (like all the rest of the Independents who have formed an ‘Independent Group’ in order to be allowed seats on Committees). In response, one of the Tory Councillors, Cllr Bob Broughton, who recently defected from the Independents, said that he sympathised with Cllr Selby’s predicament and consequently Cllr Selby was offered one of the Conservative seats on the Planning Committee which means he will now be called to nearly two meetings a month for no extra allowances.
In my own report to MDTC I neglected to mention the debate about policing, so here is an extract from Independent Cllr Virginia Moran’s written report to MDTC:
“Cllr Phil Dilks proposed a motion that the Council Leader lobby local MPs in order to try to obtain more funding for Lincolnshire Police. He quoted Police figures which showed a 69% increase in reported incidents in the Deepings wards and the reported shortfall in funding was currently £3.2m which would result in further cuts in officers. This was rebutted by Cllr Ray Wootton who announced that he had spoken to the Police Commissioner and Lincolnshire Police was to be granted a further £10m in funding. The motion was subsequently voted down by ALL Conservative members in light of this statement. Since the meeting investigations appear to have shown that this may not be the case.”
I attended, as a substitute, the first planning meeting with a new Chair,
Cllr Bob Adams (Con). It was quite positive and included further discussion of
the outline application for bungalows on Broadgate Lane DSJ. I was the only
person to vote against because most of the rest of the Committee having been
persuaded that a condition to ensure the houses to the rear of the site were to
be bungalows was sufficient reassurance that a detailed scheme would be
This was quite a short meeting. The biggest decision was to invest
£200,000 in LED Street Lighting and to adopt the policy that I wrote over a
year ago which commits the council to leaving streetlights on throughout the
hours of darkness (unlike the Conservative County Council who turn many off
when they are needed the most).
This decision has taken over two years and over 15 meetings but it’s now
decided and it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Later in the meeting I asked questions firstly about the adoption of the
roads, paths and open spaces on the Persimmon Estate; and secondly about the
new leisure (still no more details available.
As ever, if you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Report to MDTC Full Council 8th May 2019 from ASHLEY BAXTER, one of the three Independent District Councillors serving the Deepings.
Welcome to all new
and returning Town and Parish Councillors in Market Deeping and West Deeping. I
hope you enjoy your term of office and that, together, we will protect, improve
and enhance the Deepings for all its residents and visitors.
Many thanks to
everyone who participated in the recent District Council elections, including
all candidates and voters. The turnout in the Market & West Deeping ward
was 33.9% – this means that only 1 in 3 people voted which is disappointing but
not nearly as dismal as some wards in Grantham and Spalding where fewer than 1
in 5 people voted. Furthermore, some wards of South Kesteven had over 50 spoilt
ballot papers; in Market and West Deeping ward there were only 4 spoilt papers.
I am really pleased
to have topped the poll in Market & West Deeping with 1126 votes.
Congratulations are also due to Cllr Broughton (Con) returned with 774 votes
and Cllr Moran (Ind) elected for the first time with 766 votes. Commiserations
to the other candidates for whom detailed results are available on the SKDC
Due to the recent elections, I have attended only one formal Council meeting
during the last month. The next meeting will be Full Council on 23rd
planning committee discussed some interesting applications including: a change
of use of land from agricultural to a green burial site at Folkingham
Farm (approved); and an outline application for the demolition of existing
dwelling and erection of 4 dwellings at Broadgate Lane, Deeping St James
event took place once again at the Deepings School. It included a musical
performance by children of Linchfield School, presentations from various
community groups as well as the presentation of the village’s ‘Making A
Difference’ Awards by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Toby Dennis.
5/5/2019 Early Morning Service at the Deepings Lakes
Together in The Deepings organise this annual event which celebrates the beauty
of the Deepings’ nature reserve while remembering the ‘breakfast on the beach’
episode recorded in John’s
6/5/2019 Uffington Scarecrow Festival
theme of this year’s festival was ‘Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales’. The whole
village works together to present a great spectacle. I was particularly
impressed by scarecrows of Robin Hood, Red Riding Hood (no relation) and the Loch
7/5/2019 Deepings Neighbourhood Policing Forum
I was unable to attend the whole of this meeting, I did participate in the
discussion of the funding crisis and staff shortages facing Lincolnshire Police
as well as the increasing problems of anti-social behaviour in the Deepings,
particularly in the vicinity of Tesco. It seems that Tesco have dispensed with
their security guard and CCTV is monitored remotely from a location miles from
in attendance at the forum was able to report some good news e.g. regarding the
arrest of suspects in connection with thefts from vehicles. However, she said
the police in Deeping were limited by the lack of regular ‘intel’ from the
community and urged that people continue to phone 101 with any reports of low
level crime, ASB and/or suspicious behaviour.
7/5/2019 Launch of ‘Love Deepings’ and the Deeping Business Club Awards
An upbeat launch of a new community-led campaign was held at the Deeping Sports and Social Club on Towngate East drew hundreds of people who listened to details of the new initiative to promote the Deepings as a wonderful place to live, work and visit. It was revealed that the funding allocated by Cllr Phil Dilks (Ind) and myself from our SKDC Ward Member Budgets has been invested in handy visitor maps of the Deepings as part of the ‘#LoveDeepings’ campaign.
8/5/19 Inaugural meeting of the new Independent Group of South Kesteven District Councillors
Independent Group now consists of at least 10 Councillors and possibly more.
The initial meeting was informal, friendly and positive that despite the
Conservative majority at SKDC, we will be able to achieve meaning results for
the people who voted Independent in their thousands.
13/5/19 Training for Members of Planning Committee
This session was attended
by over 20 Councillors and was somewhat reminiscent of a Speed Awareness
Course. Attendance was compulsory for anyone who wishes to participate in the
deliberations of the Planning Committee either as a fully-fledged member or as
an occasional or one-off substitute.
The course included an
overview of the UK planning system, the process used to determine individual
applications and how Councillors can assist the community in getting the best
planning decisions. The slides could have included a few more pictures and the
session would have benefitted from more diverse teaching methods but it was led
by two former leading lights of the planning profession so it’s hard to
13/5/19 West Deeping Parish Council
I attended the APM and part
of the AGM of WDPC along with Cllr Moran. It was a small but friendly
gathering. The long-standing Chair of the Council retired and was presented
with a token of the Council’s appreciation. It has been agreed that the role of
Chair of the Council will be shared on a rotational bases by three of the
As ever, if you require any
further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I was recently given some ancient papers by a generous benefactor which include the minutes of the Market Deeping Parish Council (as it was then known) from exactly 40 years ago this month (May 1979).
At that time, the Council spent its time discussing the poor state of the roads, the overgrown verges, youths causing damage and creating a nuisance, the lack of a visible police presence, inconsiderate parking, and grants to the youth club.
Nothing at all like nowadays, eh?
Last night was the first meeting of the new Market Deeping Town Council. It is much the same as the old Market Deeping Town Council as before the election except for the two people who have retired (Thanks very much, Roy Stephenson and Colin Gamble) and the one person who has joined (Best of British to you, Brian Hembrow)!
I circulated my monthly written report before the meeting started but unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the election of Mayor (Congratulations Xan Collins) or the other exciting agenda items.
Being a Town (or Parish) Councillor is an unpaid, often thankless task and an uphill struggle. Please keep them on their toes but at the same time give them your support and the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it can take a very long time to get stuff done!