We are now heading to the new year with more political certainty than we’ve had for a long time, following an election result that endorses the Conservative commitment to Brexit.
Firstly I would like to congratulate our local MPs on their success, in particular our new Grantham and Stamford MP Gareth Davies and our Lincoln representative Karl McCartney, who has won back the seat he lost two year ago.
With our Conservative MP’s being able to work collaboratively across the whole of Greater Lincolnshire, including Scunthorpe and Grimsby, we will be able to cement our partnership and give us a more effective national voice.
The Conservative Party is a great believer in devolution – enabling locally accountable organisations to make more decisions on how their area is run. I am hopeful that our new strong government will give us the opportunity to take on additional powers for the direct benefit of local people in Greater Lincolnshire.
There’s no doubt that one of the decisive issues of the campaign was Brexit. In Lincolnshire we voted overwhelmingly to leave in the 2016 referendum and now, after years of prevarication, our wishes will be respected.
Brexit doesn’t mean turning our backs on our European friends and our close economic and other links. But it is about taking back control, which is what local people feel strongly about.
Once we ‘Get Brexit done’ this will mean that the government will be able to concentrate on other major issues that need to be resolved.
For some time now we have been lobbying MPs in a bid to get a better financial deal for Lincolnshire, known as ‘Fairer Funding.’ If councils in Lincolnshire received simply the average funding in England, we would be £116million better off every year.
We’ve also made the case – and continue to make it – that services are much more expensive to deliver in rural and sparsely populated areas.
Now that we have a government with a strong majority this will hopefully mean that these kinds of difficult decisions will be made and that areas such as Lincolnshire will finally receive the support we rightly deserve.
Despite the ongoing squeeze on local government finances, I am so proud of our achievements in 2019. Thanks to our collaborative working with partners, Lincolnshire is now home to the country’s first joint police, ambulance and fire station.
We’re also pressing ahead with work on the Lincoln Eastern Bypass and the Grantham Southern Relief Road.
While capital projects are always important, I am so pleased with the overall standard of services we deliver. This year we’ve had ‘good’ inspection results for health visiting and children and young people’s services, as well as adult learning.
We also continue to make major investments in better facilities and equipment including new fire engines and mobile library vehicles.
The welfare of vulnerable people is also very much at the heart of what we do, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the continuation of our innovative falls service. This has seen us working in partnership with the NHS and other organisations to provide a more speedy and effective service which aims to treat more people in the community where possible.
Looking forward, Boris Johnson has pledged his wholehearted support for public services, especially outside London, so I am looking forward to seeing improvements in the NHS as well as infrastructure such as transport and roads.
On this positive note, I would like to wish you all a great Christmas and an exciting 2020!