Government

The swimming pool at Yarborough Leisure Centre in Lincoln will remain closed until at least the end of February due to a structural issue with the ceiling.

A decision was made by City of Lincoln Council to temporarily close the pool at the Active Nation leisure centre on Riseholme Road on January 6, after an issue was found during a routing inspection.

It was later announced it would be closed longer to determine the timescales for the renovation of part of the ceiling above the pool. A decision has now been made that it will be closed even longer while work is scheduled and completed.

In a statement, Active Nation said: “Following a number of specialist onsite inspections, it has now been confirmed that the main pool will at least be closed for all of February.

“The City of Lincoln Council are working at pace with a number of contractors and engineers to schedule repair works and confirm a date for reopening, but as you can appreciate this takes time.”

Active Nation has also now said a proportion of the membership fee will be refunded.

It added: “To compensate you for this loss of use, we will refund £5 of your January fee directly back into your bank account in the coming days if you pay via monthly Direct Debit.

“Additionally future payments will be adjusted with a reduction of £5 per month for the duration of the pool closure. If you pay annually with an upfront single payment we have automatically added a full additional free month onto your normal expiration date, and if your membership is due to expire during the pool closure period we will apply a reduced renewal price for you to offset this.”

City of Lincoln Council has been contacted for a comment.

Councils working on a renewed bid to the government for devolution ahead of the release of government plans due out this month have said they have a “compelling case” ready to go.

The Levelling Up White Paper, which includes the latest plans for English devolution, is due by the end of January and has been touted as including a “bold new policy regime” for tackling regional inequality with local leaders and communities set to be “empowered”.

Talking about the government’s levelling up agenda earlier this month Lincoln MP Karl McCartney predicted that Greater Lincolnshire could become a unitary authority “very soon”, with a central mayor and a group of elected “super councillors”.

A previous bid for a devolution deal was rejected in 2016 after councillors at the time dismissed the idea of having an elected mayor.

The Local Democracy Service asked councils what their latest position was and received a joint statement from all the district councils.

They said the new White Paper presented “an opportunity to reset the relationship between central and local government and give councils more power to deliver effectively on behalf of the areas and communities they serve”.

“The benefits of this approach have been exemplified by the national response to the pandemic, which has been based on the local delivery of priorities within a countrywide framework.  It has proven to be effective and responsive and to the benefit of all.

“The ten Councils in Lincolnshire have been working collectively in preparation for the release of the document, with a view to the early submission of a compelling case for devolved powers for the historic area we represent.”

They did not reveal details of what was in the case but said it would reflect “our shared ambition for continued progress in all of our delivery responsibilities”.

“Not to do so would, without doubt, be a huge missed opportunity to secure our future prosperity,” they added.

Greater Lincolnshire includes Lincolnshire and the unitary authorities of North and North East (Northern) Lincolnshire.

Cllr Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council said; “All the councils in Lincolnshire have jointly put an expression of interest into the government on devolution.

“Governance has not been discussed as we are waiting on the White Paper, now promised later in the month.”

Mr McCartney himself had some strong opinions on the plans, telling The Lincolnite: “The county council and others at district level can argue about what the structure should be, whether turkeys vote for Christmas or not we’ll see, but I personally think the only way forward is one unitary.

“I can see one unitary with a mayor and maybe the London model of assembly members. But actually it forms three to four super councillors per constituency, that’s 40 people with a mayor as well. 40 people elected to talk about Lincolnshire, and I’m hoping we’re gonna get really good people, because that’s what you want in politics, you really need the people to actually deliver.”

“I’m saying wake up and smell the coffee Lincolnshire, we’re going to have a mayor,” he later added.

An East Lindsey caravan park is estimated to miss out on £850,000 of income next year as council leaders face “significant uncertainty” over the future and look to increase council tax by 3.26% next week.

The authority’s Overview Committee next Tuesday will be asked to approve the plans for a £4.95 council tax increase as the council looks to balance the books.

The increase will see a Band D property pay £156.69 to ELDC for 2022/23 and the council hopes it will help bring in an extra £336,839.

A statement attached to the budget by ELDC’s executive board member for finance said Councillor Richard Fry said: “The unprecedented challenges faced by all of us in 2021/22 have continued into 2022/23.

“The government has provided a one year settlement which has taken some uncertainty away regarding certain grants, however the uncertainty remains significant and into the medium term.”

The council will also be looking to generate income through its commercial activities activities – including a “flagship development in Chapel St Leonards”, however, the report notes that there is more uncertainty around income due to COVID.

ELDC’s Portfolio Holder for Finance Councillor Richard Fry. | Photo: ELDC

In addition, it notes a “significant drop in income” with the Kingfisher Caravan Park which is in the middle of a court action from residents who disagree with the council’s decision to force caravans older than 25 years off the site.

The report estimates an £854,000 drop in fees and charges for the site going into next year, with income dropping from £1,874,000 to £1,020,000

It said, however, that “an action plan is being drawn up to address this area of concern for the longer term. ”

Councillor Fry praised the latest work to make savings with Boston Borough and South Holland District Councils as part of the South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership and the latest Towns Fund bid which has resulted in almost £50 million being awarded to the district.

He also points to other positives including a global funding increase, additional New Homes Bonus money, the availability of a “smoothing reserve” in order to offset the budget deficit predicted last year and a well-maintainted capital resource base.

“These and other investment activities will mean that our capital reserves will be significantly reduced over the coming three years to a level where they cover the core service needs of the District,” said Councilor Fry

“However this ambitious recovery programme will meet our commitment to continue supporting the economy of the District thereby supporting growth.”

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