'Interesting but challenging' start for new West Lindsey Council leader
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Since assuming the position in May, Coun Trevor Young has lauded the council’s efforts in tackling a myriad of challenges. These include managing an influx of solar farm applications and combatting the Home Office’s plans to transform RAF Scampton into an asylum centre.
Last week, council representatives attended a permission hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, seeking a full judicial review of the government’s plans to house up to 2,000 migrants at the former home of the Dambusters.
Coun Young, Liberal Democrat member for Gainsborough South West, emphasised the contributions made by officers “shouldn’t be understated”.
Ultimately, their efforts yielded a favourable outcome as Mrs Justice Dame Justine Thornton ruled in favour of the local authority, marking a crucial milestone in the ongoing legal challenge.
Coun Young said: “I think we’re in a very strong position. Having been involved with the weekly meetings, it is very clear the Home Office is struggling.
“Now it’s going to a full hearing, they have to put everything on the table in terms of how they are going the plans, which they’ve never done.”
The case will soon reappear before the High Court, accompanied by claims from Braintree Council and resident Gabriel Clarke-Holland, who maintain similar plans to house up to 1,700 migrants at MWP Wethersfield in Essex are unlawful.
Reiterating a warning from Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, Coun Young said, despite the progress in the legal case, there remains a possibility the Home Office could still start relocating individuals onto the site within the next few weeks.
The first group of migrants arrived at MWP Wethersfield on the initial day of last week’s permission hearing.
In the midst of these challenges, the newly elected leader also highlighted several encouraging developments, such as the regeneration of Gainsborough town centre.
In January, the town was granted £10 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund to enhance employment opportunities and ignite economic growth.
The council intends to use these funds to construct a new four-screen cinema and retail space, while also transforming the town hall into a dynamic enterprise hub.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on at the moment. Gainsborough was recently awarded £10 million from the Levelling Up Fund and that is a really exciting possibility for us,” he continued.
“This could be the answer to kickstarting Gainsborough in a variety of ways.”
Looking to the future, Coun Young aims to make local politics more open and accessible to the general public – a principle he has been very vocal about since taking over from his predecessor, Coun Owen Bierley.
To encourage increased engagement, he plans to revise policies governing public participation at council meetings, allowing audience members to ask relevant questions when appropriate.
Coun Young said: “We want to be more outward going with local residents and that means listening and being responsive in terms of hearing what people have to say and then going away and delivering it.”