The Big Society, and all the local control and influence that it stands for is now seeping into West Lindsey.
The message is that we as individuals suddenly have more power to decide on how we want our councils to act.
Faced with a £1.8 million cut, front loaded for the first two years, we have managed not to increase our share of your council tax bill, not make any of our valued employees redundant, and deliver all our services in an even more efficient way.
This isn’t just political bluster. We are actually among the best in Britain, and in addition to that Gainsborough, with its Growth Point status, is forging ahead.
Just last week I was at a County Planning Development meeting where we saw projections of new road schemes and cycle paths which will smooth movement for the town’s residents as the population increases.
But the fact remains that we still have to find £2.5 million in savings over the next two years. This does not include an extra £250,000 that cost of living and inflation will add to the total. On March 7 we shall officially approve our budget, and we are pleased that we shall be right on target for saving large sums of money.
For example, we have improved our Planning performance and efficiency, saving in the process more than £80,000. Our CCTV coverage is being increased from 72 to 150 hours, and by being more efficient, we’ll save a further £50,000. Also, by reducing our management costs, we can bank another £138,000. We have also decided to cut back on the winter collection of Green Bins, enabling us to stash a further £80,000 into the kitty.
An important way to save yet more huge amounts for West Lindsey is by combining services with other authorities. Just consider East Lindsey and South Holland. They are saving £1 million a year simply by merging back office activities, and revenues and benefits. We hope to be doing similar tasks with North Kesteven and Lincoln City soon. In addition, we have a Central Lincolnshire Planning Unit where we shall be coordinating how we embark on the building of new houses. Together with the County we intend to work on the best methods to tackle the ever present and highly expensive need to deal with flooding.
Of course one of the most important measures we have accomplished is the agreement to have all-out four year elections, starting on May 5, the same day as the national referendum on Alternative Voting.
Not only are we saving money with this method of choosing councillors, but we are creating a stable atmosphere for the location of key businesses providing much needed jobs in our local economy.
We are now looking at other undertakings to create an income stream for West Lindsey. So watch this space.