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Opposition leader on South Kesteven District Council says there has been ‘smoke and mirrors’ in discussions about his last column

Well one of you couldn't keep a secret! There has been a fair amount of smoke and mirrors around the discussion of my last column so I thought I would provide some more detail to those that have better things to do than watch South Kesteven District Council meetings, writes SKDC opposition leader Councillor Graham Jeal.

In the last column, I shared our amazement that two of the first priorities of the Rainbow alliance of Labour, Greens and independents were 1) private healthcare for councillors / officers and 2) spending £285,916.28 of your money to spruce up facilities for councillors.

The private healthcare proposal was initially brought to the table at the Employment Committee meeting on June 29th, where one Cabinet member made a spirited pitch for why councillors and officers should get special treatment. It was met with strong opposition. However, that didn't stop the new Administration, who seemed hell-bent on sparing their staff from using the National Health Service, as they re-presented the idea on September 6th. Kudos to Cllr Anna Kelly (Democratic Independents) for standing with the opposition and voting against this scheme.

Coun Graham Jeal
Coun Graham Jeal

Now, let's talk about the "SK House Refurbishment Viability Report", which appeared in May 2023. The leadership and their "Make Grantham Great Again" independent supporters couldn't stop singing its praises, claiming it was the top priority, demanding cross-party support. But when there are over 40 families waiting for kitchen replacements in our social housing, shelling out £14,200 for a council kitchenette facelift and a jaw-dropping £116,600 on a few toilet cubicles (yes, you read that right, £116k?!), it should've been immediately dismissed - think how much of the litter strewn A1 verges could be cleaned (still South Kesteven's responsibility and still not cleaned). Our lack of support seemed to trump their enthusiasm for this as everything has gone quiet on this report.

Meanwhile, the Council is currently re-evaluating its Corporate Strategy. Given the make up of the administration - brace yourselves for a rollercoaster read:

Greens partnering with local anti-environmental climate change deniers, Labour cosying up with former Conservatives, and those who get their Covid vaccine advice from stickers on dog poo bins. The administration is united in opposing a backbench proposal to support our vulnerable veterans. I wonder what else will unite them.

I have another secret – the words “get a grip Richard” weren’t mine – they were uttered by a member of the cabinet. When a politician gives you a sermon on “honesty”, it is always worth asking what are they attempting to divert your attention from – you can share that with anyone.

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