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Beware the Winter of Discontent - the sequel, says Grantham councillor

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Column by Councillor Lee Steptoe, a Labour member of South Kesteven District Council

Like many Journal readers I am old enough (just) to remember the chaos of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in 1978/9.
Unsurprisingly this led to the election of Mrs Thatcher a few months later and has haunted my party ever since. Forty two years later our economy and society look very different, but something similar is developing and it will have serious consequences for the vast majority that are not well off.

Everywhere you look the headlines are grim: large price hikes in petrol (if you can get any,) food, gas and electricity; empty shelves in supermarkets; ‘supply line’ issues that are not affecting the Continent, (I wonder why?)

Lee Steptoe (46585897)
Lee Steptoe (46585897)

National Insurance for companies and individual workers is going up 1.5% in April, with income tax allowances frozen for the next five years. The poorest in our society have just lost their £20 a week Universal Credit top up as this perfect storm hits. (42% of them are in work but rely on the state topping up their low wages.) Council Tax is forecast to go up 5% to plug the gaping holes in social care. I could go on!

The Prime Minister’s answer at his recent party conference was to unveil absolutely no policies to confront the crisis, crack lame jokes and then go on his latest holiday. It is no wonder that many decent Conservatives secretly despair.

Locally there is our housing crisis with 1,500 on the waiting list and 18 council properties being built across South Kesteven this financial year. That’s quite frankly
pathetic! Many in my Earlesfield ward live in properties in shocking disrepair and overcrowding, the results of 50% cuts by the Tory government since 2010 and the resulting understaffing in the housing department that often comes across as indifference or worse by officers who are literally swamped.

The future of SKDC remains murky with the Tory County Council pushing for ‘devolution’ which in reality would form a giant and remote ‘unitary’ Greater
Lincolnshire council from Stamford to Grimsby, or two or three smaller arrangements. This will take several years to play out.

Meanwhile, I want to help give the Earlesfield community a clear voice and am starting advice surgeries, based around housing issues, at the Trent Road Community Centre every first Saturday in the month, starting 6th November, between noon and 2pm. Watch out for the flyers and on my Facebook page. Some restoration of hope is vital.

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