At the start of this New Year it would be rash to try and predict exactly what is going to happen in West Lindsey because of the huge uncertainties in our country and on the international scene.
If you were to ask today if we are going to freeze Council Tax for the coming year, I would have to be honest and say we don’t know.
In the coming weeks we shall be working on perhaps what will be the most complicated budget in the history of our district.
We shall also have to consider the localisation of business rate - hugely complicated formulas that when boiled down mean less cash from the Government. There are pressures and promises, carrots and sticks. Do we bring back weekly bin collections for a small reward from central Government? I think not. If we indeed freeze taxes, is the Government compensation enough to prevent us sliding into a hole over the next two or three years?
Last year, WLDC was one of 12 councils chosen to pilot a response to Universal Credit - the welfare system that will replace benefits including Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit. Since October 2012 we have been looking at how we can and will support residents to make sure they get all the benefits they are entitled to under the new scheme when it is launched this October.
We’re also continuing our drive to promote apprenticeships through our Apprenticeships Work 4 You campaign. This is one of the most important measures our council has ever taken on. It is the future of us all, not just of the young people starting out. It’s about a skilled workforce for our district, and already at WLDC we’ve set the pace by taking on four young employees.
We’ve just tackled a major eyesore that was also a health and safety issue on the High Street in Market Rasen. Although it is outside of Gainsborough, it deserves mention because cleaning up the Goldmine Pub and making it once again attractive and safe, is a major boost to the whole area, and shows that West Lindsey takes its duties seriously.
Finally we are all looking forward to the completion of more public works enhancing the centre of Gainsborough with the second phase of the Public Realm Improvement Scheme. The scheme, which began this week, will make the town centre more attractive to future investment and improve the environment for residents, shoppers and businesses.
Coun Burt Keimach
West Lindsey District Council Leader