Garrett Withington


With a strong interest in politics, I have come to Stonebow Media to pursue a career in journalism. I am currently on work experience, writing for The Lincolnite, Lincolnshire Reporter and Lincolnshire Business.

Newly released statistics have shown that the Lincolnshire coast has some of the cleanest and safest bathing waters in England, meaning that you are in luck if you fancy a quick dip this winter.

All nine official swimming spots in the county received ratings of either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, meaning that Lincolnshire provides some of the cleanest and safest waters in not just country, but all of Europe.

Skegness, Ingoldmells South, Chapel St Leonards, Anderby, Moggs Eye, Mablethorpe Town, Sutton-on-Sea and Humberston Fitties all achieved the highest grade of ‘excellent’, while Cleethorpes achieved the second-best rating of ‘good’.

Water quality has dramatically improved across the whole of England with 92% of the country’s 413 bathing spots achieving a top grade. Up from just 28% in the early 1990s.

Leading the effort is the Environment Agency who ensure the waters are maintained and strive to reduce pollution by working alongside the public.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Maintaining such high water quality standards at English beaches is a huge success and a credit to all those individuals and organisations working hard to keep our bathing waters clean.

“Water quality has improved significantly over the last two decades – but to protect and enhance water quality even further we will need everyone to take the small actions that will help.”

From Brexit to Donald Trump’s outbursts on Twitter, it would appear that everything these days is shrouded in controversy, with not even the simple and delicate paper poppy being spared.

News outlets, national and regional, have articles defending, questioning and rejecting the use of the poppy, with every story attaching a different meaning to the resilient flower which blew in Flanders field.

So the question remains, should we wear the poppy and what does it represent?

Some believe politicians have used the poppy to lobby support for current and recent conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Conflicts they morally disagree with.

They reject the actions being carried out by current British forces and as the poppy has come to remember the death and sacrifice made by those in not only World War One, but in all British conflicts, some see the poppy being used as a justification for more recent wars.

Harry Leslie Smith, a 92-year-old war veteran, holds this view stating that the poppy has been hijacked by “latter day politicians to sell dubious wars”.

But at its conception the poppy was meant to inspire remembrance, not war, hence the term ‘lest we forget’. Those three words are almost inseparable from the poppy, and evoke an emotion which sums up the tragedy and devastation of war.

This is certainly the view of International Bomber Command Centre director Nicky Barr who said that the poppy is a symbol used to commemorate sacrifice and not to glamourise war, as some people have suggested.

However, so-called “poppy disillusionment” does appear to be on the rise. Reports earlier this month indicate that one in three Brits under the age of 25 will most likely not wear a poppy on Armistice Day.

Many abandoning the poppy did she because they felt bullied into wearing one.

In almost a protest to the traditional red poppy, institutions such as the Peace Pledge Union offer a white version as an alternative.

Lincolnshire Reporter found a wide range of views on what the poppy represents when we spoke to people on Lincoln High Street.

Joanna Pass said that wearing the poppy for her demonstrated “support for all of those involved in British conflicts, past and present”.

This was in contrast with James Ridley, who said: “Personally to me it just symbolises the remembrance of those who died in World War One.”

Another passer-by who wished to remain anonymous said that he wore the poppy in order to directly support the Royal British Legion and their work helping ex-servicemen and women.

Perhaps then from the disagreements locally and nationally, the poppy really represents us remembering those who fought for our ability to make you own choices, engage in discussions and express our own opinions. Even if they infuriate you.

Lest we forget.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]

With a strong interest in politics, I have come to Stonebow Media to pursue a career in journalism. I am currently on work experience, writing for The Lincolnite, Lincolnshire Reporter and Lincolnshire Business.

Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn has called for Humberside Police to follow the example set by Nottinghamshire Police and treat all forms of misogyny and everyday sexism as a hate crime. Is she right to do this though?

The recently re-elected Labour MP has pointed to statistics which have revealed that the number of sexual offences in North East Lincolnshire has almost trebled in the past nine years, increasing from 184 separate offences in 2007-08, to 480 in the past 12 months.

Across the whole of the Humberside Police Authority Area there were 2,233 sexual offences recorded last year, up from just 957 in 2007-08.

The vast majority of sexual offences are against women and girls.

The Labour MP said: “The increasing levels of violence against women and girls in the local area is unacceptable and must be put to a stop.

“Tackling sexist behaviour earlier on could stop people believing it is acceptable and prevent more serious abuses further down the line.

“The evidence from other parts of the country shows that treating misogyny as a hate crime is making a real difference, with women ‘walking taller’ as a result.

“I am urging Humberside Police to start doing the same here.”

A hate crime can be filed in Nottinghamshire if there are any unwanted sexual advances or unwanted verbal contact with a women.

But should misogyny be treated as a hate crime and does the law not already protect women from assault and harassment?

What the law says

Most of what the Great Grimsby MP is asking for is protected by the law already through sexual assault and harassment statutes, so it unclear as to what labelling them as a hate crime will achieve.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 already bans all touching which is sexual in nature, but the person has not given consent to do so.

Harassment, not only for women but for everyone, has been covered by the Public Order Act 1986 which states that a person can be found guilty if they cause alarm to a person or distress by using threatening, abusive, insulting language or disorderly behaviour.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 states that a crime which is racially or religiously motivated, can lead to extended sentences and this could be emulated for misogyny and everyday sexism, though for issues such as wolf-whistling it would be unlikely.

Photo: Emily Norton for Lincolnshire Reporter

Problems which may occur when treating misogyny as a hate crime are that the definition has become so broad.

Who is it that will define the term misogyny or determine what is sexist? Will it be considered misogyny if someone is to be offended? And if so, offence can differ person to person.

Another big concern is why is it only misogyny and not all forms of sexism which can be considered a hate crime?

It is clear that women are disproportionately affected by sexual offences, there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, but to only suggest that only misogyny should be described as a hate crime almost denies the possibility that it can happen to men.

When we look at domestic abuse, which the Labour MP links to sexual harassment in her letter, we know that 7.7% of women experience it after the age of 16 but so do 4.4% of men.

A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Police confirmed to Lincolnshire Reporter that the force will be adopting a policy which treats all forms of sexism as a hate crime, including misogyny.

This will fall under a broader category titled ‘Gender-Based Hostility’.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]

With a strong interest in politics, I have come to Stonebow Media to pursue a career in journalism. I am currently on work experience, writing for The Lincolnite, Lincolnshire Reporter and Lincolnshire Business.

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