‘This wasn't the first time I wondered about the priorities of the new leadership at South Kesteven’, says leader of the opposition at South Kesteven District Council and Grantham councillor Graham Jeal
In his latest column, the leader of the opposition at South Kesteven District Council has some stinging viewpoints on the work carried out so far by the ‘rainbow alliance’ administration. Conservative opposition leader Graham Jeal writes:
Pssst - I have a secret, some gossip for you. Don't tell anyone, but last week, I found myself in the council chamber, and honestly, it felt like I'd stumbled into a sitcom.
Picture this: we're discussing deputy leader Councillor Ashley Baxter's amended proposal to splash your cash on private healthcare for councillors and council staff. Why, you ask? Well supposedly the NHS is not acceptable.
This wasn't the first time I wondered about the priorities of the new leadership at South Kesteven. Council housing services remain in special measures but the first priority of the leader, Coun Richard Cleaver, was to discuss spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on sprucing up his kitchenette in the council building and councillor loos. I couldn’t believe he was serious; how would that look? And how, in the name of all that is holy, is it even possible to spend that kind of money on some kitchen cabinets and a few toilet cubicles?
While litter continues to pile up around the South Kesteven stretch of the A1 (see all previous columns), nobody's thought to pick up the phone to our neighbours and ask how they clean their areas. Meanwhile, hundreds and hundreds of bins went uncollected in August in South Kesteven. Why? ......"The summer!"
We’ve been able to identify the onset of the summer since the neolithic druids built Stonehenge. It normally comes round every year. Bin collection at our council used to be something we would boast about, now we brace ourselves for complaints.
Although talking to residents is out of fashion. There have been secret meetings about Grantham priorities, large-scale house purchasing in our villages without mentioning it to parish councillors, criticism about supporting the most vulnerable military veterans who live in our area and we’ve been told that we are getting purple bins – so much for transparency, consultation and working with residents to explain things.
Don’t take it personally, though. In the same scrutiny meeting as our discussion on private healthcare, the chair of the meeting read out a long list of people who failed to get back to her with answers to basic questions. Even the inmates in the council can't get answers from the top brass.
The new ‘Rainbow Alliance’ of Labour, Independents, Lib Dems and Greens have been in “control” for over 120 days, they have announced no new policies or direction and many of us worry about the day to day operations.
Don't tell anyone, but between you and me, what we are all really thinking is, “come on, get a grip Richard”. Let that be our little secret. Shhhhhhh.