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Time for change in Lincolnshire – make votes count, says Grantham councillor

As the nation enters its second lockdown in seven months, I welcome the fact that the Government has rejected Lincolnshire County Council’s devolution bid that I have written about in a previous column.

The Government seems to have kicked its plans for local government reorganisation on a national scale into the long grass with its White Paper not due now until next year.

Thankfully, there has been a smidgen of common sense after all, as the pandemic enters its second deadly stage.

Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)
Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)

Major disruption of the work of district councils across our county at this point would have been unforgiveable.

This means that the scheduled Lincolnshire County Council elections next May will now almost certainly take place. Local Labour welcomes this and we will be announcing our candidates soon.

It is crucial that the pandemic does not prevent local democracy. If elections can go ahead in the USA, where over 150 million have voted, it should happen in our local elections, with postal voting made as easy as possible.

The May elections will be the first test of popularity for Boris Johnson’s government since it romped to victory on the back of Brexit and his promise of ‘an oven ready deal’.

Well, there is no Brexit deal in sight with less than two months before the end of the transition arrangement on January 1 and its record with dealing with the pandemic has been woeful.

This will be a chance to send a strong message of disapproval.

Equally as importantly, there are local issues that will be on the ballot. Lincolnshire has been ruled by the Tories since 1997 and it really is time for a change, as we remain one of the poorest counties in the country (that is about to lose its EU grants.)

Labour is totally committed to value for council taxpayers’ money and to being campaigning community representatives over health and education scrutiny, provision of social care for vulnerable children and adults, and looking after our environment.

Local services are on their knees after 10 years of Tory cuts and the pandemic only heightens this. A glaring example is potholes which remain a disgrace across our area, in addition to the chaos in ‘planning’ bridge repairs.

When the time comes, I encourage locals to vote for change at County Hall and in doing so send a clear message to our incompetent government.

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