Standing together with the people of Ukraine - Column by Richard Wright, county councillor for North Kesteven

No matter the difficulties life brings us – a global pandemic for instance – we should never forget how precious the peace and security underpinning our lives in this country is.
Sleaford council offices lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.Sleaford council offices lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Sleaford council offices lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine following the news of invasion, I requested on Thursday, February 24, our council offices in Sleaford to be lit in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. It was intended too as a small but hopefully meaningful gesture of unity with those here fearing for the safety of friends, family and others they know in Ukraine, and our will to offer appropriate assistance if so called upon by Government.

We are committed to human rights, understanding and cohesion, and I’ve spoken before of how these values live in our communities through acts of neighbourliness and kindness in our district.

There are ways to extend this to Ukraine, including donations to the emergency appeals for medical help and humanitarian support either through recognised local charities there or established organisations such as the British Red Cross and Unicef.

You can also help by being mindful online, sharing only coverage from reputable news sources.

The stream of news around the conflict is hard to bear, especially for those impacted directly, and so I’d also urge us all to mind our mental health and seek help if you need to talk.

Perhaps, following the pandemic, you seek out green spaces for solace and comfort? Or maybe you’re keen for climate change to take centre stage once more after Covid? If so, you’ll be pleased our Full Council on March 3 is due to consider

£1 million towards climate action in our district.

It’s coupled with another £1m in measures to build up reserves and resilience for post-Covid recovery and £1m for investment in leisure assets, visitor venues and broader economic activity.

It is through cautious financial management that we can bring forward this £3 million sum, some of which had been put aside in anticipation of a change in how councils are financed to avoid any sudden shortfalls.

Through it we will be better placed to invest in the environment, facilitate more active travel and promote opportunities for decarbonisation; to build the resilience of services impacted by Covid such as leisure provision and promote post-pandemic recovery; and continue investing in leisure and cultural assets like Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum, which I was pleased to visit last week to see its improved interactivity for visitors.

At Full Council our NK Plan 2022-25 will also be considered, following approval by our Executive Board. It’s our vision for North Kesteven including the environment, housing and communities, with £91 million to be invested in the plan’s three-year lifetime.

It also further reflects our action on climate with a green rather than golden thread through it.

On March 3, the council will also consider a proposal for the district council to increase its annual council tax charge by £4.95 to a proposed £179.95 for a full year at Band D.

With less than 10 per cent of the total bill being retained by the district council, for several years similar small incremental increases of around two to three per cent in this charge have helped us plan over a longer-term in helping to maintain financial resilience and value-for-money services, including free and low-cost access to things such as the leisure and arts provision that we have the freedom and security to enjoy here in North Kesteven.