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I look forward with enthusiasm to 2019

Column by Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council

December is a good time to reflect on the year just ending and look forward to the year ahead.

Despite a tough 2018 for both local and national government, we’ve plenty to be optimistic about going into 2019.

Locally, we’re ending this year with the good news that all of the objections to the Grantham Southern Relief Road have been withdrawn. This means that we can start work on phase two earlier

in 2019 than originally expected.

We’re always looking for ways that we can improve our county for all and promote an environment where businesses can invest and thrive.

I know that potholes are a huge issue for local people and we continue to do our best to maintain roads to the highest possible standard.

In March we were given an additional £3.4million from the government’s Pothole Action Fund to repair local roads that were badly affected by winter weather. This gave us a total of £12.4m to spend on potholes, road repairs and other improvements in this current financial year.

Of course, in the 21st century having good broadband is equally important as having good roads. And over the year we have continued to make good progress on the onlincolnshire project, which remains on target to increase access to superfast speeds to 97% of Lincolnshire by the end of 2019.

Looking more globally, I recognise that negotiations have been difficult but we should all aspire to deliver the best Brexit for Lincolnshire.

Despite the current uncertainty for businesses, we believe that Brexit will ultimately bring new opportunities for local firms, with greater freedom in our trading relationships.

With that in mind, we have been strengthening our ties with other parts of the globe, most notably China’s Hunan province, who became our sister region back in October.

Nationally, I will continue to work with the Government on their fair funding proposals to get more recognition that large rural counties like ours face higher costs and demands in delivering services.

While economic matters are important, our top priority in Lincolnshire is always supporting vulnerable residents of all ages.

An inspection in the autumn by national bodies Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted our sterling work with services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

We have £50m investment plans for special and mainstream schools which shows our commitment to improving support for all children and young people. And earlier in the year Ofsted also praised our support and services for children in care.

On that optimistic note, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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