Boris Johnson in Lincolnshire: County is levelling up

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Lincolnshire is levelling up as county leaders call for more funding to help tackle the challenges it faces.

During a visit to Lincolnshire, Mr Johnson answered questions from reporters, residents and local leaders.

Lincolnshire County Council is currently campaigning to “Fix Our Funds to Fix Our Roads,” trying to reclaim £12.5million of lost funding last year – a slash of 25% to its roads budget.

In a video, Lincolnshire County Council leader Councillor Martin Hill said the cut had given the county “some major problems” and called on the Prime Minister to get the Department of Transport to review the decision.

The highways money is just one part in a grander funding view of the county.

Councils across Lincolnshire are also currently looking at raising their taxes by the maximum allowed, while residents face massive bills in the next few months due to hikes on the horizon for energy prices.

Lincolnshire Police are still the worst funded police force in the country.

Labour leader of City of Lincoln Council Councillor Ric Metcalfe had also submitted a question asking what more the government can do to help tackle the challenges the city faces.

Mr Johnson said there was “massive investment” in Lincolnshire’s roads, pointing to the £165 million for the Eastern bypass. However, he acknowledged it was “still something that we have to fix”.

“I am well aware of this issue that your excellent councillor rightly raises and we’ll do what we can to fix that.”

He pledged to bring it up with Transport Secretary Grant Schapps.

Boris Johnson said there had been investment in 99 more police officers in Lincolnshire, and 770 across the whole of the East Midlands as part of the government’s pledge to employ 20,000 more officers.

“It is going up, we want to see more [officers] on the beat,” he added.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who accompanied the PM on his visit, said MPs in the county had not given up on getting a fairer funding formula for Lincolnshire Police in the 12 years since it was first looked at in 2010, and that he hoped it would change under Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson said the government was investing “massively” in infrastructure, education and technology, including £3.5billion into schools – 6% above the average.

He added there was a focus on “making sure people in rural parts of Lincolnshire get gigabit broadband”.

“People really value that now. Life is digital, the world is digital, business are all digital… everybody needs fantastic broadband.”

He recalled that during a visit in Lincoln five years ago, he had promised broadband to an audience of farmers who had gone “crazy with excitement” about the news.

He said Levelling Up for Lincolnshire included “the government coming up with the infrastructure that enables good education, technology, and better roads… and then making the place look great for business to invest in and deliver long term jobs.”

Mr McCartney explained this included the expansion of the university and the growing economy feeding off that.

“So it’s about the state putting in this the bedrock that enables the private sector to create high wage, high skilled jobs. That’s what it’s about,” said Mr Johnson.

It’s happening everywhere in the UK, that’s what we want to do.”