Government

North East Lincolnshire Council leaders predicted “black holes” in their budget, which could see council tax rise by nearly 5% due to COVID impact on finances.

The authority’s cabinet on Wednesday passed proposals to increase council tax by 1.98% and the adult social care precept by 3% in 2021/22, along a new “COVID-19 reserve” in order to tackle ongoing pressures.

The authority managed to balance its funding this year, but predicts that nearly £9.3million of savings will need to be made by 2023/24.

Portfolio holder for finance and resource Councillor Stan Shreeve told members that a “considerable” amount of time had been spent putting the budget together.

“Despite the obvious difficulties presented, this draft budget still reflect in both revenue, and capital expenditure terms, this administration’s determination to improve our borough, and the lives of our residents through the provision of first class, efficient, services.

“It does not mean that there will not be hard decisions – of course there will be, but officers and cabinet colleagues are united in our aims to meet both strategic priorities: have stronger economy, and stronger communities.”

Portfolio holder for finance and resource Councillor Stan Shreeve

He added: “The media has focused on what it calls black holes in finances because that’s exciting, but, as was said at the time, a shortfall in areas was to be expected and stages, two, and three, of this draft still signpost for future financial challenges.”

The tax rise will equate to a rise of £92.81 to a total of £1,956.57 for a Band D property – an increase of £1.78 a week.

North East Lincolnshire Council leader Councillor Philip Jackson said the budget, which was started several months ago, had been a “long and torturous process.”

It will now go before scrutiny committees and out to public consultation before Full Council in February.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said that a complaint which resulted in him being formally warned for promoting his role as a magistrate ahead of the 2019 general election was “politically motivated”.

However, he said he “would not want to have this argument again” and called for clearer guidance before the next national poll.

Mr McCartney revealed the complaint was made by a “fellow Lincolnshire Magistrate” and University of Lincoln lecturer, but did not name them.

“I believe, and always have done, that it is imperative electors should be able to judge an election candidate and their integrity through what they have done, do, and have been involved with,” he said.

“My public service as a school governor, various positions and trusteeships with a plethora of charities, and my service as a magistrate on three different benches is a matter of public record, as is my former joint chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for magistrates.”

“I do not believe in censorship,” he added.

Karl McCartney’s “About Karl” section on his website mentions the role.

Mr McCartney has been a Justice of the Peace for nearly 25 years.

He said the Lord Chancellor in 2005 had changed the guidance and rules and that they had not reverted back since.

He said  “the reality is that I proved to the panel […] there was nothing to complain about, as the guidance from 2005 is still relevant.”

However, the panel came to a different conclusion, giving him a formal warning.

“The British judicial system has an onus on the accuser, and those trying the accused, of proving wrongdoing. If not proven or if there is benefit of doubt, then the finding is surely ‘not guilty’,” said Mr McCartney.

However, he added: “Saying all the above, I would not want to have this argument again. If the guidance is made clearer before the next general election, I will of course review my mentioning of being a JP in election literature.”

Here is Karl McCartney’s statement in full:

“Over a year ago one fellow Lincolnshire Magistrate, who is a Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, made a politically motivated complaint that a leaflet from me prior to the December 2019 General Election had made it clear I had served, and still am, a Justice of the Peace, a Magistrate.

“I believe, and always have done that it is imperative electors should be able to judge an election candidate and their integrity through what they have done, do, and have been involved with. My public service as a school governor, various positions & Trusteeships with a plethora of charities, and my service as a Magistrate on three different Benches is a matter of public record, as is my former Joint Chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Magistrates. I do not believe in censorship.

“The Lord Chancellor in 2005 agreed with me, and I received direct notification from him that he was imminently changing the Guidance and Rules for the Judiciary, and Magistrates, which he did. For the record, he did not reprimand me. That guidance has not been rescinded, nor usurped, by subsequent Lord Chancellors, including the current one. If I had done wrong and refused to admit it, I would surely have been removed as a Magistrate by the Civil Servants and those acting on their behalf.

“The conclusion is clear to those who are aware of the full facts. I have always said that if a Justice of the Peace uses their position as a Magistrate to their own betterment, or to offer favour, then they have no business being a Magistrate. After a year of procrastination, the reality is that I proved to the Panel representing the Department that there was nothing to complain about, as the Guidance from 2005 is still relevant. Unfortunately, that does not fit with the conclusion they came to, hence the statement published on their website.

“The British judicial system has an onus on the accuser, and those trying the accused, of proving wrongdoing. If not proven or if there is benefit of doubt, then the finding is surely ‘not guilty’. Saying all the above, I would not want to have this argument again. If the guidance is made clearer before the next General Election, I will of course review my mentioning of being a JP in election literature. However, it is quite clear that many people in Lincoln are aware that I have been a Magistrate for nearly 25 years.”

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has been given a formal warning for promoting his role as a magistrate on a political leaflet.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said Mr McCartney’s advertising of his role as a magistrate on the supplemental list “gave the appearance of seeking to gain advantage, which is contrary to guidance that is intended to protect judicial independence and impartiality”.

A statement from the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland and Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb.

They said: “In reaching their decision, they noted that Mr McCartney had previously received a disciplinary sanction for similar behaviour and was unwilling to acknowledge the inappropriateness of his actions.”

The statement includes no further detail on the leaflet such as when it was issued or what it said specifically

The Conservative MP, who took his Lincoln seat back from Labour’s Karen Lee in December 2019, notes his role that he has been a magistrate since 1999 on his website.

Karl McCartney’s “About Karl” section on his website mentions the role.

Following a list of roles he has undertaken since the early 1990s, his website states: “He has been a Parish Councillor, a school governor and a Magistrate since 1999.”

He also referred to it in his election leaflets in June 2017 where he said: “Having sat as a Magistrate in Lincoln for many years, Karl has seen at first hand the effect crime has on our society.”

As does this leaflet from June 2017.

Karl McCartney has been contacted for comment, but did not reply by the time of publication.

— Later updateThe Lincoln MP has now responded to the judges’ reprimand.

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