Budget 2016-17 agreed

Lincolnshire County Council’s 2016-17 budget has been agreed.

Services that were highlighted as priorities by members of the public in the budget engagement feedback will continue to be supported thanks to an additional £5.2m funding in rural services grants.

These include winter maintenance, bus subsidies and 15 tier 3 children’s centres over the next two years at a cost of just under £5m.

Funding has been agreed for major schemes including £42m for the Lincoln Eastern Bypass, £35m for the Grantham Southern Relief Road, £15m for the Lincoln East-West Link, £10m for the Spalding Relief Road and £11m towards the cost of  the Boston Flood Barrier.

Despite the additional grant, the council still faces significant underlying cost pressures going forward, with a potential budget shortfall for 2017/18 of around £30m even after implementing savings for this coming financial year of £42m.

For more details, please see the budget speech by the executive member for finance and property Cllr Marc Jones.

New provider for sensory services

We’ll have a new provider for sensory impairment services for children and adults from 1 April 2016.

After a competitive tender we’ve awarded the new contract to Lincolnshire Sensory Services (LSS), a joint enterprise between Action on Hearing Loss, Lincolnshire and Lindsey Blind Society and South Lincolnshire Blind Society.

All the charities which are part of Lincolnshire Sensory Services have a developed cohort of over 350 well-trained volunteers, which will bring added value to the service and help it support more people.

The new contract will also encourage a reduction in social isolation, better use of technology and a more integrated approach to working with health organisations and other partners.

People who are currently using the service should continue getting the same service as they have been getting before.

We’re currently working with the old and new providers to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for service users and staff.

Lincoln Eastern bypass go-ahead

The Secretary of State has granted the legal orders required for the Lincoln Eastern Bypass scheme to progress. This decision follows the public inquiry which took place in August 2015.

This means that the council can now appoint a contractor and it is hoped that work will then be able to start on site later this year. The bypass is expected to take two years to complete and will cost around £96million.

During August’s public inquiry, government-appointed inspector Stuart Nixon heard the cases for and against the revised Side Road and Compulsory Purchase Orders paying particular attention to the new proposed locations for the footbridge and a crossing. These were the reasons why the orders were not granted at a previous public inquiry in 2014.

The Department for Transport report states: “The inspector recommended that the Side Road Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders be confirmed and that the application be approved.

“The inspector concluded that the modifications proposed by the council are justified. The Secretary of State has carefully considered the matters raised in the post-inquiry correspondence and has taken them into account but they do not alter his decision to accept the inspector’s conclusions and recommendations.”

See here for the full report and more information on the bypass scheme.

Bookstart Bear scheme launches

A new pilot reading scheme is set to help children aged up to five to explore reading and discover what their local library has to offer.

It sees participating youngsters receiving their own special sticker book following Bookstart Bear on his reading adventure travelling to places including the park, supermarket and library.

The project will initially run in five libraries at Market Rasen, Spalding, Lincoln Central, Boston and Stamford. For more information, contact the Customer Service Centre on 01522 782010.

Charitable options to be explored for future of Bourne Town Hall

Following an extensive public consultation with the people in Bourne about the future of Bourne Town Hall, feedback and comments have now been collated. No clear option has emerged as a result of the consultation work.

Overall, 169 questionnaire responses were received. The most popular options were to retain the building and use it for the charitable purposes as set out in the original deed (38 responses); retaining the building and amending the original charitable purposes (37 responses) and selling the building to use the proceeds of sale for the benefit of the residents of Bourne (36 responses).

This means that no recommendation has been made yet and, as a result, the process still continues.

There will be further exploration of the options in more depth including looking at how viable it is that a charity could use the building and realistically take on its running.

Plans to boost seaside economy

East Lindsey Coastal Community Team, led by the county council and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, has revealed proposals to rejuvenate the area with a focus on ‘nature tourism’.

The aim is to make the most of the coast’s natural heritage through improved marketing of rural products and destinations, making visitor information more easily accessible and encouraging local businesses to take a greener approach.

East Lindsey is just one of 100 coastal communities across the country taking control of their futures. The plans will build on developments at places such as Gibraltar Point and Chapel St Leonards.

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