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Council services have never been so vital and we continue to achieve a huge amount, says leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

2024 marks 50 years of Lincolnshire County Council and last week, we held our annual general meeting to look back at our achievements this year, writes Councillor Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

In the context of half a century of work, it’s clear to me that council services have never been so vital and we continue to achieve a huge amount.

Despite the backdrop of challenging times for local councils and global instability, we have been able to maintain our strong financial position and invest in areas like schools, roads and flood prevention.

Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council
Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council

Highlights of the last year include our Children’s Services department being awarded an overall ‘outstanding’ judgement following an Ofsted inspection; Lincolnshire was announced as one of only three areas to run a new national programme - Families First for Children, with £5.7m of new funding; we’ve also invested over £7m to create over 200 new places in mainstream schools.

Our Adult Care Services have also seen plenty of progress over the last year. This includes a new specialist team helping young people who have a physical disability to prepare for adulthood; our day opportunities service for those with learning disabilities, has provided support for over 320 overnight breaks; we have also commissioned a new mental health and wellbeing community investment fund.

Another busy year saw our fire service respond effectively to a variety of emergencies, including storms Henk and Babet. A full inspection of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue was carried out by His Majesty’s Inspectorate and the report was positive in all areas, with the service judged as providing a good operational response to emergencies and major incidents.

Lincolnshire continues to be an area that renewable energy developers have in their sights for extensive solar development. The council has been actively involved in five planning examinations this year, objecting on the basis of loss of our most versatile agricultural land and visual impact.

We face an uphill battle in maintaining our roads, with reduced government funding and increasing costs. However, as a council we have continued to allocate more money - increasing our spend from £102m last year to £112m for 2024/25. We have repaired more than 100,000 potholes this year including 38,856 individually reported potholes.

During the last year, we have re-invested £12m of savings made by our service areas, including £4m to support flood prevention measures, as well as additional investment in our waste management and swapping street lighting for more efficient LEDs. The library service has continued to thrive, exceeding pre-covid levels at times, seeing a 20% increase last summer and with over two million issues.

2024 is also significant as we work towards a devolution deal for Greater Lincolnshire. This is our plan to receive more funding and powers from the government to be spent in our area, with decisions made locally not nationally. If the deal proceeds as we hope, we will be setting up a combined authority by the end of the year to oversee these new powers, with a mayoral election held in May 2025.

We’ve achieved a lot over the last year, and the last 50 years, but I’m confident we are also planning an exciting future for our county.

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