Local Democracy

“Heart-broken” residents could get a £10.7million refurbishment of the Deepings Leisure Centre after accusations council leaders had “lied” flew across South Kesteven District Council’s chamber on Tuesday.

A meeting of the authority’s joint scrutiny meeting on Tuesday examined a series of options for the leisure centre which was closed in July after rainwater leaks in the roof caused safety concerns, with councillors U-turning on a decision to make the closure permanent after a backlash from local residents.

Councillors on Tuesday instead voted to recommend moving forward on “Option C” which would cost £10.663 million.

If approved it will see the centre undergo a full remodelling and refurbishment including reconfiguration of the main pool, a new health and fitness gym, two new studios, a changing village, modification of the entrance area and refurbishment of the sports hall.

Residents were given the chance to speak before the meeting. Eileen Grey, a resident and user for 40 years, said: “When the leisure centre closed, 40 years of my life was taken away from me. I’m heart-broken this has happened.”

Robbie Tyler, who runs a martial arts club said: “The closure of DLC has impacted our club massively. Without it we can’t do a lot of the things we were.”

“A lot of opportunities have been missed and the people in the Deepings are crying out for it.”

Conservative Councillor Barry Dobson told the committee: “Investing in high quality leisure facilities across the district is a key part of this council’s ambition.”

“Whilst a new build for the Deepings area was once a possibility this is sadly no longer the case.”

He said there had been a “drastic” reduction in income and finances were “under pressure”. “We must align our diminished resources for all residents across the district.”

Independent Councillor Phil Dilks accused the leadership of making untrue statements on election campaign leaflets.

He said the council had “continued to throw money at a fantasy smoke and mirrors sham” despite being told in reports that new builds were unfeasible.

“The people of the Deepings have been very patient and without their passion and support the original recommendations to close the centre and walk away would already have been implemented.

“The people of Deepings had been let down. They have been lied to and they have been betrayed.”

Independent Councillor Ashley Baxter said he was “furious and disappointed” and told Councillor Dobson: “That was a lie on your leaflet.”

The comment sparked calls for an apology and for the statement to be withdrawn.

Councillor Dobson responded that despite new build funding being previously agreed, it was no longer possible due to funding issues, and adding a new build would “create ongoing financial pressure”.

He added: “I do not tell untruths, I do what is best for everyone and I do what is right for everyone.”

He added: “The question Councillor Baxter wanted to say – I do take absolute exception to and I will not answer.”

Conservative council leader Kelham Cooke, noting the impact of COVID-19, said: “It has been an ambition to replace the leisure centre but […] quite simply the investment in the leisure market has diminished.”

Councillors were warned savings would have to be made in the budget to afford the costs, as well as potential council tax increases.

Councillor Stokes said: “To facilitate [a refurbishment] we’re going to have to make decisions and these are going to be decided by full council. It’s not going to be an easy decision.”

Conservative Councillor Mark Whittington said: “For a variety of reasons the people of Deepings have been let down by SK, LCC and others, and I do think we need to be as reasonably ambitious as we can.”

A scandal-hit council has confirmed the candidates who will stand in an election to replace the seat left by its jailed former leader.

West Lindsey District Council will hold its vote to decide who will take the Nettleham seat, previously held by disgraced former Conservative Giles McNeill, on Thursday, December 16.

Mr McNeill was last week jailed for 14 months after admitting eight theft, fraud and forgery charges totalling £31,201.04 from his own party over a six year period.

Mr McNeill resigned as leader of the council in September 2020, prior to the allegations coming to light, and was later removed from his chosen party, but sat as an independent in the ward until a month prior to his sentencing.

According to documents on WLDC’s website the candidates for his seat are:

  • Ben Loryman, Green Party
  • Jess McGuire, Labour Party
  • Jaime Oliver, Liberal Democrat
  • Maureen Palmer, Conservative

Announcing his candidacy on Twitter, Ben Loryman said he wanted WLDC to declare a climate emergency, introduce a policy for planting (and caring for) more trees, and provide the best possible support for people to save hundreds on their energy bills by insulating their homes.

Jess’ candidate leaflet calls for new homes in the village to be “affordable for all” and calls for better social care support for elderly residents. She wants increased investment in community events and is campaigning for streetlights to be switched back on.

Jaime’s main focuses are on offering better bus services, controlling speeding traffic, ensuring vulnerable people are not isolated, improving access to healthcare and encouraging respectful parking. Her leaflet focuses on opposing changes to the planning process and action on climate and the environment.

The Conservatives, who last week said they were “looking forward positively and working to overcome” the damage Mr McNeill caused, said Maureen had a passion for children’s education, their welfare and development along with the environment, maintaining and improving the area. They said she wanted to protect communities from unsuitable development.

Residents have until midnight tonight (Tuesday, November 30) to register to vote online.

More than 1,500 homes across two major developments in Bracebridge Heath are up for approval before North Kesteven District Council next Tuesday.

Jesus College Oxford’s application for 450 homes on land north of Canwick Avenue, and Church Commissioners for England’s application for 1,123 homes off Sleaford Road, include major chunks of land allocated for the Lincoln South Eastern Quadrant.

The authority’s planning committee will be recommended to approve both builds, despite objections from local residents and councils.

Jesus College Oxford’s plans cover 28 hectares in total and also include the provision of land for a primary school and a new four-arm roundabout on Canwick Avenue. It will also include pedestrian and cycle access and developers say the layout will allow a “high degree of connectivity”.

The larger 45 hectare plans, from Church Commissioners for England, would be built on three parcels of land, and will include 2.6 hectares of employment land including a “broad mix from shops to restaurants, offices/light industrial, clinics and health centres and assembly and leisure facilities”.

Both plans had received 36 objections each from local residents at the time of the report with concerns including the usual suspects of transport, insufficient infrastructure and road networks, and overdevelopment of the area.

An artist’s impression of the entrance to the 1,123 home site.

Branston and Meres and Canwick Parish Councils have also objected to the larger plans, with both noting a new school should be included, the suggestion being that it is placed on Canwick Avenue.

Meanwhile Branston and Heighington Parish Councils have objected to the smaller of the developments.

Recommending approval, however, officers said both developments would “help satisfy and deliver across a wide range of the economic, social and environmental roles of sustainable development” and would “create a high quality, sustainable development, the residual impacts of which can be appropriately mitigated”.

Indicative plans for the 450-home proposals.

If approved, the 450-home development would need to include 20% affordable housing, £3,742 per home on sustainable transport, £864 per home on recreation, £308 per home for a new community centre, £632.50 per home on health care and £684.50 per home towards education.

The larger development would be asked to pay similar amounts, except in education where it would be asked to pay £2,486.50 per home.

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