The electorate had difficult choices to make yesterday (Thursday), both nationally and locally.
I do not know if I will be re-elected to the council or whether the Conservative Group will re-appointment me as its leader.
However, I believe the council can look back over the last few years on many worthwhile achievements, despite the economic austerity.
The rate support grant has been drastically reduced in recent years, yet we have not reduced the face to face services we offer to our residents. This has been achieved by careful management of the resources of the council, by cutting out wasteful and unnecessary expenditure and by redesigning the organisation to meet current needs and the economic circumstances.
Prospects of employment are increasing. The return to the district of Marks & Spencer, the expansion of the Parc Air factory in the Deepings, new employers in Oscar Mayer and the Range group coming to Grantham are examples of the confidence large companies have in the future of Grantham.
Events such as the Gravity Fields festival give further evidence of the vitality of the district to prospective new businesses seeking to relocate.
Bourne has seen the completion of the Community Access Point, giving our residents easier access to the services they require. The Elsea Park development continues to provide good homes and employment in the town and the Wherry’s Lane development is nearing completion. There are further developments being planned to increase the vitality of the town.
Stamford continues to play a major part in the well-being of the district. It is a major tourist attraction, bringing in thousands of visitors every year, adding to the economic viability of the town.
The plans for the second Georgian Festival are well in hand, which promises to be even better than in 2013.
New housing projects are already in place and further managed development will continue to ensure the prosperity for the town.
Looking ahead, a key issue for Grantham, and the district, is the bypass. We will continue to work with the major stakeholders and our other partners to bring this lifeline to the town into a reality. The additional housing this will open up is vital to the prosperity of the town and the district.
It is anticipated that by 2021, councils will not receive any rate support grant from central government. This means that we will need to generate income from other sources, if council tax levels are to be kept to an acceptable level, and to look at how we can deliver services in a more efficient way.
A great deal of work has already been done in this respect. We have renegotiated the leisure contract, which will bring revenue to the council and not be a drain on the taxpayer.
The new cinema complex will not only be a major attraction for the district but will create a significant income stream for the council.
New house builds and new businesses coming into the district will bring in new revenue.
All aspects of our income and expenditure will be kept under constant review.
The council has a very clear policy, to invest our resources in a way that will save money and increase its revenue. We will always endeavour to ensure that the face to face transactions with our residents will be maintained, for as long as possible, without having to increase council tax.
Whatever the outcome of the elections, both nationally and locally, difficult financial decisions will have to be made.
I am looking forward to the challenges to come and, with the support of the new members of the council, of all parties, and our dedicated team of officers, I am sure we will meet these challenges with determination and resolve.
Leader of SKDC Conservative Group