Graham Norton provides inspiration for Lincolnshire hedgehogs… @grahnort

Press Release

Graham Norton provides inspiration for Lincolnshire hedgehogs…

The BBC Radio 2 Graham Norton Show has, inadvertently, resulted in a concerted campaign to protect hedgehogs in South Kesteven.

Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind), who represents the Market and West Deeping Ward was listening to BBC Radio 2 while driving his daughter home from a music lesson when he heard Graham Norton interviewing the much-loved poet, Pam Ayres MBE, about her new book called “The Last Hedgehog”.

Pam Ayres informed Mr Norton, and a listening nation, that hedgehog numbers have fallen by 50 per cent since 2000 and there are now fewer than a million of the prickly population left in the UK.

Coun Baxter was keen for South Kesteven to take action and requested the South Kesteven Communications Team send out information to residents about the issue. He comments: “I was hoping that the PR team would be able to use the council newsletter, SK Today, and our wider media network to explain the importance of leaving out shallow dishes of water and leaving gaps under fences to allow hedgehogs to roam freely in search of food and other hedgehogs. I’m sure it’s difficult enough for hedgehogs to mate without the trouble of being separated by a six foot garden fence.”

The communications team immediately published information to coincide with National Hedgehog Awareness Week but also discussed the issue with colleagues in other council departments. It was decided that the Council’s grounds maintenance staff should be involved and stickers were put onto the Councils strimmers and mowers to remind staff of the importance of checking for hedgehogs before cutting long grass and hedges.

Coun Baxter continues: “I am delighted the council has adopted this campaign with such enthusiasm. It ties in well with the recent decision to bring grounds maintenance back in-house. I am sure next year we will be able to put in place many more initiatives to protect hedgehogs, hares, foxes and other wildlife.”

An unnamed council spokesperson commented “It’s a great campaign. Let’s hope our more prickly residents will see the point!”


Notes to Editors

  • More details about hedgehogs can be obtained from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
  • Pam Ayres’ book – The Last Hedgehog – is published from Pan Macmillan for £6.99.

@SouthKesteven Communications Guru is paid more than a Cabinet Minister!

South Kesteven District Council has been paying an external consultancy more than £10,000 a month for advice on its communication strategy. Since June last year, Adrian Smith of Emulus Communications Limited has been engaged in the role as Head of Communications for the Conservative-led local authority. It is believed that the consultancy contract was originally established at the instruction of the Coun Matthew Lee who took over as Leader of the South Kesteven Conservatives two months earlier (April 2017). The two men have previously worked together in 2010 when Coun Lee was a Council Cabinet Member in Peterborough.

Independent Member for Market and West Deeping ward, Coun Ashley Baxter is alarmed: “I was shocked to discover that we are paying over £140,000 a year to an external consultant for work which should rightly be carried out by Council staff. During the last 12 months, I have communicated with Mr Smith several times about the lack of publicity for events and projects in the South of the District. When I met him at the end of March to discuss the problem, I was disappointed to learn that in nine months at the Council he had not even visited Market Deeping. Anyone being paid £10,000 to promote the District should make it their business to know every corner of their patch. The situation has improved recently but I can’t believe we’re paying more than a salary higher than that of a Government Minister for Mr Smith’s services.” Continue reading

July 2018 – Report to Market Deeping Town Council

Report to Market Deeping Full Council – July 11th 2018

Apart from watching World Cup football, I’ve had another busy month. Here are the edited highlights:

Friends of Mill Field

Since my last report, Friends of Mill Field have heard news from the Independent arbiter of the Village Green application. There will be a public inquiry into the application which will probably take place in November.

In an attempt to ‘lock the stable door’, the County Council has taken the gormless decision to register a landowner deposit to declare that they wish to put an end to the recreational use of the land.

I am trying to find out how many people responded to the so-called consultation about potential development on the land.

Town Centre

SKDC’s new Head of Town Centres, Paul Allen, contacted me for a meeting about growing the town’s economy, including an update on the Saturday market. I invited Cllr Virginia Moran to join me the meeting as I know she has done a significant amount of work planning this year’s Christmas market as well as acting as liaison with SKDC regarding the proposed Saturday market. We gave Mr Allen a short tour of Market Deeping explaining the key issues faced by retailers, residents and visitors.

Saturday Market

Over 500 people responded to the recent SKDC consultation regarding a weekly market in the old market place. More than 85% of the responses were positive and the County Council is now being consulted because they are technically responsible for the market place. Assuming the County Council don’t drag their feet, the market could be launched in the autumn. Continue reading

Football’s coming home so let’s get the fire going!


The beacon at Jubilee Park

Back in February 2014 I was already dreaming of world cup victory and anticipating victory I proposed to Deeping St James Parish Council that they should light the Jubilee park Beacon if and when England reach the World Cup final. The Parish Council, anticipating no expenditure and no action that year, passed the motion unanimously. It generated a little bit of positive publicity for the village including, for me, an appearance on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s sports programme (They haven’t asked me for any sporting opinions since!).



Thanks to Iceland, we didn’t make to the final in 2014 but perhaps tonight’s the night. With it being the second Wednesday of the month, Market Deeping Town Council will be hosting it’s monthly meeting at the Town Hall. So even though I have the opportunity to watch a thrilling, nail-biting display of team-work, split-second decision-making, sportsmanship and dramatic resolutions which could make us all proud of our representatives,… I’ve decided to watch the football instead!

Come on England!


The England bandwagon

This is the text of a letter about Nick Boles latest campaign that I sent to the Stamford Mercury earlier this week…

Dear Editor

Nobody is surprised to hear Nick Boles MP calling for people to fly England flags. He is famous for leaping aboard every passing bandwagon so why not the world cup? It is a convenient distraction from the Tories ongoing imbroglio over Brexit. However, I am surprised Mr Boles chose to be photographed with a tourist flag embellished with words, a crest and an inexplicable star rather than a proper England flag. The latter is a plain red cross on a plain white background known as the St George’s cross and named after a roman soldier who became a Christian martyr but never set foot in our green and pleasant land. A true patriot would surely be aware of that! Come on, England!

Yours etc,

Ashley Baxter

Nick Boles MP partially hidden behind a flag based loosely on the design of the England flag.

@MakeVotesMatter in Stamford during ‘National Democracy Week’


Release Date: 3rd July 2018

The Government has declared “National Democracy Week” between 2nd and 8th July but campaigners have taken to the streets of Stamford to explain why they feel the UK electoral system is in dire need of an overhaul.

Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind) who represents the Market and West Deeping ward of South Kesteven District Council explains:

“Many people in Lincolnshire are frustrated that although only around half of voters vote Conservatives, that particular party always wins the vast majority of the available council seats at District, County and even Parliamentary level. It is no wonder so many people feel disenfranchised and disillusioned and have given up voting completely. At the street stall in Stamford many people agreed with us that a more effective system of elections is not only possible but essential.”

Stamford Town Councillor Steve Carroll (IND) and Little Bytham Parish Councillor Gerhard Lohmann-Bond (Green) were also involved in the organisation of the event.

The stall was one of more than 60 across the country as part of a national day of action co-ordinated by the Make Votes Matter campaign. People who wish to know more about proportional representation or would like to sign the petition for electoral reform should visit the website.


Does anyone remember the days when Ministers used to resign when they got caught?


This post is shared without amendment from kittysjones’ blog.

In my previous article, I discussed the outrageous responses that the Department for Work and Pensions minister and petty tyrant, Sarah Newton presented to Shadow Disabilities Minister Marsha De Cordova, who had once again raised the fact that the United Nations (UN) had found “grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights” in the UK. The Labour MP also […]

via Esther Mcvey forced to apologise for being conservative with the truth — Politics and Insights

Grantham needs a Town Council.

At the last Full Meeting of South Kesteven District Council I proposed a motion that Grantham should have a Community Governance Review to enable residents of the town to choose whether they wish to have a town council. My proposal was criticised with a succession of weak arguments along the lines of: ‘we once held a couple of meetings a few years ago but no-one turned up’; ‘we think it might cost a lot’; and ‘you live in the Deepings so what’s it got to do with you?’ (I’m paraphrasing!)

The conclusion of the debate was the passing of wrecking amendment put forward by Coun Ray Wootten (Con)  to say the Council would have hold a review only if they were legally obliged to or if SKDC ceased to exist. So, the Tories were able to say they were not against a Town Council in principle but would only vote for it in specific circumstances (and those circumstances would be if they had no other choice).


Coun Ray Wootten (Con) and his wife Coun Linda Wootten (Con) pictured in 2016 with mayor’s hat, chain and ermine but no Town Council to preside over.

I’m pleased to read that this week’s Grantham Journal proves at least one resident supports the idea of replacing the Charter Trustees with a proper town council by publishing the following letter from Ann Wright: Continue reading

Defying Gravitas – Why is the Wherry’s Lane project in Bourne delayed?

Last week I blogged that Gravitas Housing Ltd has been planning to build houses in Bourne and that there are no definitive public evidence that South Kesteven’s Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) is planning anything else.

On 10th January, the Deputy Leader, Cllr Kelham Cooke, decided formally to sell the Wherry’s Lane site to Gravitas Housing Ltd. If I have understood correctly, the council also agreed to lend £250,000 to Gravitas in order that they could afford to buy the land.

So, after securing the land and almost a year of Shareholder Meetings held behind closed doors, the Gravitas Directors (who are all employed by SKDC) decided to request planning permission for the erection of 25 dwellings on Wherry’s Lane in Bourne. A valid application was received by SKDC planning department on 27th March 2018 (which had been prepared by a consultancy in Louth!). Continue reading

#TakingBackControl of our Grounds Maintenance!


Release date: Immediate

Council to consider creating Grounds Maintenance company.

South Kesteven District Council has decided to investigate forming a grounds maintenance company to take care of grass cutting, hedge trimming and maintenance of flower beds. The proposed local authority controlled company would look after all the council’s parks and municipal open spaces and is also expected to take on similar work for other organisations including town and parish councils.

The preferred option was chosen from four alternatives presented to the Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee which was held at the Council’s depot in Grantham on Wednesday 20th June. The other options included a competitive tender, setting up a partnership with another local authority or taking the grounds maintenance work completely in-house. Continue reading