December 12, 2015 11.11 am This story is over 69 months old

Putting the record straight on planning and councillors’ allowances

Planning concerns and online comments: “If we fail to produce our own local plan, it is almost certain that central government will impose one on us.”

I am not surprised that some people are reacting with concern at the proposals recently unveiled for a major development between Canwick and Bracebridge Heath, which were reported on in The Lincolnite this week.

I have to say that these plans have actually been around for some years and are now an integral part of the Central Lincs Local Plan which, when the consultation stage has been completed, will go before the Planning Inspector next year.

To those who don’t want a new plan at all I would just say that, if we fail to produce our own local plan, it is almost certain that central government will impose one on us.

That said, my main concern is that any further delay in the start date for the building of the Lincoln Eastern Bypass will make it even more difficult, if not impossible, to deliver any further development in the South East Quadrant of Greater Lincoln without the kind of disruption in the Canwick/Bracebridge Heath area my own town of North Hykeham has experienced at the hands of planners since the 1960s.

The Eastern Relief Road from the A158 to the A15 and the Southern Bypass from the A15 to the A46 and now partially back on the drawing board as part of the strategy for the South West Quadrant of the Local Plan will play a vital part in delivering the plan for these areas.

The fact that both roads will probably be single carriageway reflects, in my opinion, their secondary importance as basically commuter corridors compared to what is the main strategic road for traffic moving between the coast and the East Midlands heartland, namely the A46 Western Bypass. If there is any spare money for dualling, then surely this should be spent on the stretches of this road which are stubbornly being left as single carriageways.

As at least one commenter to The Lincolnite said, a single carriageway road is better than no road at all. So, let’s have no further delay to the Lincoln Eastern Bypass if we are going to get our Local Plan ready on time.

Finally, on the subject of comments, I have to say that I just wonder where some of the people who are prepared to make quite insulting comments online about councillors and their ‘earnings’ get their information. I think some may be confusing the earnings of senior officers with those of elected members.

Contrary to popular belief, my county councillor colleagues with special responsibilities, including the Leader, who has ultimate responsibility for running what is, in effect, a £1 billion organisation, do not earn massive amounts and, for many, this is a full time job.

I don’t suppose that this will satisfy the cynics, whatever is said. Compared with similar authorities in the area, the allowances paid by Lincolnshire are amongst the lowest around. To expect someone to take on this job without any remuneration, as some have suggested, displays a wilful ignorance of what is required of a councillor in a first tier authority like ours.

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John was a councillor for thirty years, finally retiring in 2017. A schoolteacher by profession, he served on the North Hykeham Town Council (1987-2011), the North Kesteven District Council (1987-1999, 2001-2007) and the Lincolnshire County Council (2001-2017). He was also a County Council member of the former Lincolnshire Police Authority for eight years until standing down in 2009. In 1997 he was the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham. He is currently not a member of any political party.