Looking ahead to 2021

Looking ahead to 2021

It has been a challenging year, says Councillor Philip Jackson, NELC Leader, but major steps forward are being taken.

In his Leader’s Speech to a full meeting of North East Lincolnshire Council on Thursday, Councillor Jackson thanked everyone for playing their part.

“As 2020 draws to a close, Covid 19 remains the dominant issue, both nationally and locally. Following today’s announcements, North East Lincolnshire, along with all our neighbours, remains in Tier 3. While our numbers have reduced significantly, remaining in Tier 3 is an unfortunate consequence of our current infection rate, positivity rate, over 60’s rate and hospital pressures. In the opinion of the national decision makers, these factors mean it would be too risky to move out of Tier 3 at this stage.

“Clearly this is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly for businesses already hit by the restrictions. We continue to lobby for additional support for business, particularly in the hospitality sector.

“Maximising targeted testing is a key plank of our overall Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan, alongside contact tracing and isolation as an entire package of measures. We’re working closely with other public health teams across the Humber region to implement community testing in what is a fast-changing environment. Our approach is to draw on a range of intelligence and existing testing provision, to see where we can best minimise the spread of Covid. Our priority is to use the initial supply of lateral flow test kits in a way that makes the best use of resources, and impacts on those people in the community who are most vulnerable.

“In North East Lincolnshire we are initially supporting lateral flow testing with frontline health and social care staff working with vulnerable people, whilst exploring the best way to implement a community focused programme in the new year. We’re also in discussion with the business sector, including some of our larger fish processors, to see how testing could be best utilised there. These tests are designed to identify a small number of people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms. For those who are displaying any of the symptoms, however mild, the normal swab test is the correct option and is readily available for people to book.

“Indeed, early next week, we will be opening two new mobile testing unit sites in Cleethorpes and Immingham. Alongside the well-established one on Duchess Street car park in Grimsby, this will provide fuller geographical coverage.

“Vaccinations are clearly a major step forward in the battle against the virus, and I want to thank the Clinical Commissioning Group and Primary Care Networks in the Borough for the work they are doing to administer the vaccine locally. Vaccinations are starting to be delivered in North East Lincolnshire this week from four primary care locations, with an initial focus on the over-80s. The first of those took place yesterday at the Beacon Medical Practice in Cleethorpes. We are currently only able to administer the vaccine from these locations as it is very complex to move, store and prepare. I want to thank the hospital and all NHS staff for the work they continue to do to manage pressures of both Covid and winter.

“Moving now to local authority matters, members will already be aware that Cllr Stan Shreeve has taken over as Deputy Leader of the Council, and I have taken on the Regeneration, Skills and Housing portfolio for the time being. I would like to welcome Cllr Shreeve to his new role.

“With EU exit almost upon us, I’m pleased that the Government has announced major cash allocations through the Port Infrastructure Fund for new border control posts, which include both Immingham and Killingholme. The fund supports port operators to deliver facilities where border checks on food products can be undertaken. It compliments government support already provided to local authorities to increase staffing and support systems, to ensure increased import and export checks on goods can be delivered. This extra funding is a major boost for Northern Lincolnshire, with a combined total of more than £36 million, and we’re working closely with partners to develop these facilities.

“Despite Covid, work on regeneration projects has continued apace. Like other Councils up and down the land, we still optimistically await government responses to our Future High Streets Fund and Towns Fund bids. Progress continues with the OnSide Youth Zone at the West Haven Maltings. Well done to the young people involved, as the project develops, and their choice of “Horizon” as the name for the Grimsby Youth Zone.

“Excellent progress continues with major highways schemes around the Borough. As we promised in our manifesto, we have retained Tollbar roundabout, and the improvement works there are on schedule and on budget for completion next month. The new roundabout at the junction of Littlecoates Road and Cambridge Road has opened to traffic this afternoon, ahead of schedule, addressing a longstanding traffic bottleneck. Both these projects are funded by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Work on the A1173 is now complete and it will reopen tomorrow, providing enhanced access to the South Humber Industrial Investment Project (SHIIP) site at Stallingborough. The next phase of the A18 improvements is scheduled to start early in the new year.

“We have met another of our manifesto pledges by completing the rollout of new, higher capacity recycling bins to all households who are able to use them. We have achieved, in less than 18 months, what Labour failed to deliver in eight years. The new bins are proving popular, and recycling rates are on the increase.

“Regarding enforcement, it was gratifying to see the robust and high-profile support we received from the courts in relation to convictions for cycling in the pedestrianised area of Victoria Street. This sent out a powerful message, that this administration is serious about enforcement in general and protecting the law-abiding majority in North East Lincolnshire.

“Turning to health, a major NHS re-organisation was signalled a few weeks ago, proposing the further development if Integrated Care Systems and, locally, so called integrated care partnerships. These proposed changes do have potential implications for our integrated health and social care arrangements with the CCG. We are working with the CCG to develop an appropriate response to the consultation, and consider how our local arrangements need to develop or alter to meet the changes that are coming.

“Members will probably have picked up that a Greater Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Oversight Committee has been established to strengthen our working relationship at upper-tier level across the county. It will enable North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County Council to work strategically together on projects to enable funding to be better used, service quality to be improved and greater outcomes to be delivered. It also sends a powerful message to government about the desire to move towards a devolved Greater Lincolnshire.

“Undoubtedly, the events of 2020 have been unprecedented. I want to pay tribute to the immense effort, commitment and dedication of all council staff in meeting the challenges of the pandemic, adapting to rapid change, and working tirelessly to support communities, residents, businesses and partners. Thank you to all councillors for their efforts, too. And my condolences to all those who have lost loved ones as a result of the pandemic. Finally, I hold a sincere hope that 2021 is better than 2020.”

About the author

NEL_Conservatives administrator