15 Take-aways from Ric Metcalfe’s live Q&A

City of Lincoln Council Leader Ric Metcalfe addressed 100 days into his job the biggest issues facing our city. You can read his full answers on questions from The Lincolnite readers, or you can catch up with these bite-sized take-aways from the Q&A session. Here are Ric Metcalfe’s takes on:

1. A mosque in Lincoln:

“I know the local Islamic association have had an ambition to build a mosque for a long time, and like any community group, one would hope they will be able to realise their aspirations at some point. But, I reiterate that it’s the Planning Committee who will look at the application on its merits and make a decision based on planning policy.”

2. Horse racing on the West Common:

“It was an ill-thought out submission to bring back racing, and the business plan such as it was never convinced us that this was a deliverable objective. Even though viewed outside of these two considerations, the idea to bring back horse racing and put Lincoln on the map was quite nice.”

3. Train barriers in Lincoln city centre:

“It’s not practical to be thinking about closing the gates, through there was a proposition by Network Rail to do so — but I think they’re now persuaded that would be the wrong solution. I think the answer undoubtedly is pedestrian access over the railway line, probably of that section of the High Street when we get the East West link installed. That does mean a properly engineered lift system such as that it would be compliant with the disability discrimination act.”

4. Late night busses:

“I know a lot of people are affected by this and I’ve often travelled home with workers who rely on public transport. We’ve made the strongest representations both to the County Council and to Stagecoach, particularly to ask Stagecoach why it isn’t possible to cross subsidise some of their less profitable services with some of their most profitable routes.”

5. Eastern Bypass:

“A single carriageway would be better than nothing. In an ideal world if there were the resources to make it a dual carriageway from the beginning — so much the better. My understanding is that road would be built in such a way as to allow it to be duelled at a later date.”

6. Blue Badge parking:

“I know there are some people of the view that the charges should be dispensed with all together, and that may have been the view of certain individual councillors, but we didn’t have that in our manifesto, we made no formal commitment to dispense with the charges. I have an open mind about this but haven’t formally looked at it yet — we certainly will do in due course.”

7. Parking spaces in Lincoln

“It’s not true to say that 24/7 there are insufficient spaces. There are times within the day, week and year that there are bottlenecks. But actually some of our car parks are not fully occupied so it’s not true to say as a generality there’s a shortfall.”

8. Park and ride in Lincoln

“We tried an experiment on Nettleham Road for a while but it proved extremely expensive for us, as a small district council, to fund such as service. The County Council now have come to the opinion that a park and ride service would be a good idea, but putting in all the bits and pieces you need to make it work takes time.”

9. Paid parking bays in the city centre

“I don’t feel as strongly as other people do about charging for on-street car parking. When there’s lots of competition for a tight amount of space, one of the ways to resolve that competition is to use a price mechanism. You have to pay for city centre car parking anyway, so I don’t quite go with the argument that there is something sacrosanct about not paying for using scarce space on the street.”

10. No riots in Lincoln

“It would be easy to be complacent and say we don’t face the severity of the problems in some of the areas affected by the riots. I don’t think that’s entirely true. We acknowledge that there are a lot of social problems in Lincoln, we have quite a lot of poor people with fairly high levels of unemployment, and we’ve certainly got our share of anti-social behaviour and crime in the city.”

11. Local elections every four years

“I am not hugely opposed to going to four-yearly elections, but we won’t get the opportunity to vote on that in full council again for another three years.”

12. Budget cuts

“We’re still working hard to find other ways to save money, whether that’s through shared services with other local authorities, more efficient working and use of technology, or whether through actual reduction of services through cost cutting.

13. CCTV service review

“In an ideal world, the police would make a financial contribution and we’d like the business community to make a contribution too, but having said all that, everyone else is severely financially constrained so I’m not holding out great hope for those in the short-term. We’ve got to find some way of reducing its cost, whilst maintaining the effectiveness of the service.”

14. Special schools closures

“We haven’t come out as a council in outright opposition to the proposal because the County Council have done an awful lot of work already in looking at those other options. But clearly parents and other stake holders are not convinced that all of the other alternative options are being promptly bottomed out. That’s why we’ve asked the County Council to put a pause on their proposal to try to convince people that they really have explored every other option.”

15. Free bulky waste collection

“If we were in a position to renegotiate with Cory Environmental at a later date we’d want to get this back as a free service for all, although at this time I can’t make an undertaking that we will because obviously there is a cost involved.”