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New planning laws could lead to local revolts

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

My last column at the end of April appealed for people to vote in the following week’s Lincolnshire County Council elections.

Due to pre-election rules, I was not allowed to make party political arguments, so my point was a general one: past generations had struggled and sometimes died for the right to vote.

Lee Steptoe (46585897)
Lee Steptoe (46585897)

Well, as I expected things followed the normal pattern and across our district just 31 per cent bothered to vote in the LCC elections.

The small but dedicated Grantham Labour team ran a professional campaign, based around videos on Facebook and postal addresses in what was a covid restricted set of elections.

We reached literally thousands of people on Facebook and most comments (not all) were positive.

We called for change but failed to cut through, and I was personally disappointed to lose in Grantham South, following a Green surge that split the anti-Tory vote.

I thank the 712 people that voted for me and for all the supportive messages.

It was always going to be an uphill task in Grantham against five well established Tories, who benefited from the vaccine bounce and a government that has spent over £350 billion on the furlough scheme over the last year.

There are no prizes for second place and that’s where we are, in a true blue town, in a true blue county, with the Tories holding 54 seats on LCC out of 70 (down two.)

We have put down markers and the local Tories will never again be able to sleepwalk their way to complacent victories.

We now begin the process of campaigning for the South Kesteven District Council elections in 2023, where our focus will be on the desperate need for more social and genuinely affordable housing. We remain the best bet for progressives that want to see more political balance locally and will continue to work hard to establish trust and support as a viable alternative; one-party states of any colour, at local or national level, are deeply unhealthy, breeding complacency and arrogance.

The Tories can expect opposition from their own supporters over proposed new planning laws before parliament.

South Kesteven District Council will be stripped of its right to approve or deny new builds on an individual basis as Whitehall puts land into three zones.

We may find Tory voters in the suburbs and countryside finding ‘green’ credentials to fight developments in their backyards.

A revolt in the blue shires; how ironic that will be.

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