Keith Girling was elected as County Councillor for the Newark West division in May 2005 and re-elected in June 2009. He is Nottinghamshire County Council's Business Engagement Champion and is Chairman of the Economic Development Committee.
Keith was formerly Deputy Cabinet Member for Culture & Community, having been a spokesman on Culture issues in Opposition. He is also a member of Nottinghamshire Fire Authority.
At local level, Keith is Chairman of the Newark Town Partnership, the Hawtonville Safer Neighbourhood Group, the Castle Safer Neighbourhoods Group and the Bridge Children's Centre Management Group. He is on the board of the Hawtonville Childrens Centre and Extended Services Management Group.
He is also a member of Millgate Conservation Society, a member of the Grenadier Guards Association - Nottinghamshire Branch and a member of the Royal British Legion Newark branch.
Keith is available to meet constituents at any convenient time at a suitable venue. His contact details are displayed on the left of this page.
Keith would also like to know when constituents are holding Tenants & Residents' Association meetings, Neighbourhood Watch meetings or any other events to discuss local issues. He will endeavour to attend as many as possible.
Keith's latest Councillors' Divisional Fund awards...
Each Nottinghamshire County Councillor now has an annual fund of £10,000 to support worthy initiatives in the division they represent. The Councillors' Divisional Fund aims to make use of each councillor's 'grass roots' knowledge to identify projects, events, people and clubs that work hard to benefit and promote their local area, but often lack access to resources. Even a small amount of funding can sometimes make a huge difference.
If you know of a deserving initiative in the Newark West division that might be eligible to receive a CDF grant, please contact me. You can click the following link to read the eligibility guidance criteria.
Follow this link to the Councillors' Divisional Fund web page to see some of the latest projects I have been able to support.
Keith's latest news...
Newark couple first to benefit from NCC mortgage scheme
I am delighted to announce that a young couple from Newark have become the first people in Nottinghamshire to be given a mortgage based on the County Councils new ‘Local Lend a Hand’ mortgage scheme, in partnership with Lloyds TSB.
Karl Hopkinson (24) and Lucy Price (23) found it difficult in finding a home together that they both could afford, Karl said: “We have always planned on buying a house together as soon as possible after leaving University but it was a matter of waiting until we saved enough for a deposit.”
Nottinghamshire County Council has set aside £15 million for the new ‘Local Lend a Hand’ scheme, which was launched on 26th February 2013. The scheme will help at least 500 first-time buyers in Nottinghamshire to purchase a home with a deposit of just 5%.
The scheme is open to first-time buyers purchasing a property worth up to £150,000. It enables borrowers to buy their first home with a deposit of less than the 10% or greater, required by most mortgage lenders. The fixed rate mortgage products that will be available during this scheme will also be at a lower rate of interest than would normally be available for this level of deposit.
The ‘Local Lend a Hand’ allows for first-time buyers to pay a deposit of only 5% for their first home, while enjoying the cash benefits as if they were paying 25%. This means their monthly repayments will be around £100 lower than they would otherwise have been, allowing them to focus on the DIY and the furnishing of their new home.
Please click here for more information regarding the ‘Local Lend a Hand’ webpage at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/mortgages.
Council tax frozen for the fourth consecutive year
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 28th February 2013, I joined my Conservative colleagues in voting to freeze county council tax for a fourth consecutive year.
In the 2013/14 financial year, Nottinghamshire County Council will be investing: -
an extra £13.3 million in services to children and young people;
an extra £17.9 million in adult social care;
an extra £3 million on the county’s highways;
an extra £500,000 for a Youth Employment Strategy; and
an extra £700,000 for our ‘Olympic Legacy’ sports development fund.
This followed our ‘Big Budget Conversation’ consultation process, in which 65% of Nottinghamshire respondents supported a council tax freeze, with only 21% against. Further information on the results of the Big Budget Conversation can be found in Appendix A to the budget report.
Nottinghamshire County Council is now spending over £40 million more on services to vulnerable adults than it was four years ago, and over £35 million more on services to vulnerable children.
Free weekend parking for Newark town centre loading bays
I am delighted to report that 30 minutes' free parking is now available at weekends in the loading and disabled parking bays in Newark town centre all year round. Having spoken to and received a petition from local businesses, who expressed their concerns about adequate on-street parking, I worked with my colleague Councillor Richard Jackson, the Chairman of the Transport & Highways Committee, to secure this free provision. In my own capacity as Chairman of the Economic Development Committee and a local councillor, I hope that shoppers and businesses benefit from this decision to help improve trade in Newark.
Why do I always miss Santa?
I'm delighted to report that Santa Claus made an appearance on Wednesday 19th December at the Hawtonville Children's Centre in Newark, handing out presents to the children in return for their good behaviour all year.
I don't know why, but I never seem to be around when Santa turns up. Just my bad luck really, I can't be everywhere. Still, the kids enjoyed themselves and that's what counts at Christmas!
Santa even agreed to have his photo taken by one of his helpers and and I hope he doesn't mind me saying he's looking very slim these days!
Visits to local businesses
Nottinghamshire County Council is sounding out businesses on its economic development plans and proposals to stimulate growth and jobs. Recently a delegation of committee chairmen and council officers visited the award winning Southwell-based business, Advanex Europe.
Advanex specialises in design and manufacture of metal and plastic components, springs and assemblies to sectors as diverse as medical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, electronics and agricultural engineering manufacturers. The meeting and tour was the latest of a series of visits to companies throughout the county to talk to local businesses about the issues facing them, local growth plans and how the Council can provide support.
Senior Councillors have made twelve formal visits to Nottinghamshire firms in the last two years, including Laing O'Rourke (Worksop), Alliance Boots (Beeston), Abacus Lighting (Sutton-in-Ashfield), Synseal (Huthwaite), British Sugar (Newark), Hardstaffs (Gotham) and British Geological Survey (Keyworth).
There's no substitute for getting out there and seeing how our businesses are doing on the ground. Often there are actions the County Council can take which make a huge difference to businesses and their employees - from small things like tweaking a bus route or trading standards advice to major infrastructure projects such as improving the A453 and faster broadband.
Karl Sirrell, Regional Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses and Mark Chivers, Director of Nottinghamshire Enterprise Zone (Alliance Boots) recently became co-opted members of the County Council's Economic Development Committee. And businesses from throughout the county were involved in the production of Nottinghamshire's first Growth Plan, which is out for consultation until 7 December. It can be viewed at: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/growthplan
New telephone number for Nottinghamshire County Council
Nottinghamshire County Council has launched a new telephone number 0300 500 80 80 which is cheaper than the previous 08449 number. The change to 0300 500 80 80 means that wherever you live in Nottinghamshire, you'll pay a local call rate when you get in touch with the Council. Calls to 0300 numbers are included in all-inclusive minutes and discount schemes offered by telecoms and mobile phone providers, meaning that some calls are even free of charge.
To celebrate, the County Council's Customer Service Centre has revealed some of the strangest requests it has received since it was launched in 2008, including a lady requesting an audience with The Queen and someone asking if it's okay to exercise their kestrel at a local tip!
4,350 Notts residents and businesses have now pledged in the Council’s Superfast Broadband for Notts campaign. That’s a tremendous response, just short of our target of 5,000. I hope by the time you read this we’ll have received even more.
If you haven’t pledged yet and are affected by poor internet speeds of less than 2Mbps then please do so at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/broadband? or by calling the Council on 08449 80 80 80. The more evidence we have of market demand, the better we can lobby the telecoms companies and the sooner work will start on those much-needed upgrades.
The campaign aims to bring faster broadband speeds to the estimated 116,000 homes and businesses which are still lagging behind with painfully slow or no broadband at all.
We see this as vitally important for the rural businesses and families of Nottinghamshire. Businesses with slow broadband will increasingly be at risk of becoming uncompetitive if they don’t get access to faster speeds. Children and young people need at least 2Mbps at home in order to do the online studying that is increasingly becoming part of their education.
GCSE results up again in Nottinghamshire
On 23rd August young people in schools across the county received the results of their GCSE examinations.
The provisional results for Nottinghamshire based on 41 (out of 45) schools show that: -
These results show that pupils have been working extremely hard with support from their teachers and on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council I would like to congratulate them for their hard work.
Securing the future of the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont
Nottinghamshire County Council's National Water Sports Centre provided a training base for Olympic gold medallist canoeists Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie and silver medallists David Florence and Richard Hounslow. This illustrates the importance of the Centre, which is a major part of the British Canoe Union's plans for the future. It is unique in offering all of the facilities required, like flat water and slalom courses, in one place.
The Council took back responsibility for the operational management of the Centre from Sport England in April 2009 in return for a one-off capital contribution of £2 million and annual contributions of £500,000 from Sport England until 2012/13 towards the running of the facility.
In the 2010/11 financial year, the operating cost of the Centre to the Council was approximately £300,000. Without Sport England's revenue contribution, the net revenue cost to the Council would have been approximately £800,000. Such costs cannot be sustained over the long term and Sport England has confirmed it will not sustain its revenue contribution beyond 2012/13.
This is why, in September 2011, Cabinet members approved a new ambition for the Centre: "An accessible, high quality family activity and sporting centre with an adventurous flavour set in stunning green space". We agreed to seek an operating partner to manage and operate the Centre on the Council’s behalf and the initial list of interested parties has now been narrowed down to two bidders, as reported on the BBC News.
Councillors were updated on the progress of this initiative at the June 2012 meeting of the Culture Committee, which was held in one of the conference rooms at the National Water Sports Centre itself. The report stated that when our operating partner is chosen, their brief will include:-
the continuing operation, at the current site, of high quality leisure provision for local community and our elite athletes, to include maintaining the core water-based provision at the Centre;
the Centre’s site being retained and promoted as a community open/green space with free access; and
in the medium to long term, the Centre becoming revenue cost neutral to the Council.
The National Water Sports Centre has been described as "the jewel in the crown" of Nottinghamshire's sporting and leisure facilities and regular visitors to the site will appreciate why. It is a beautiful site with fantastic potential. The County Council is committed to securing a long-term positive future of the Centre including significant investment. We do not want to burden the taxpayer, so we believe a partner with expertise in this industry will be the best way to help us achieve our ambition.
New Citizens Advice Bureau looking likely for Newark
At the July meeting of the Full Council I presented a petition from Newark residents objecting to the closure of the Newark Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) branch on Bargate in June. Before handing the petition to the Chairman of the Council I expressed my dissatisfaction with the Bureau's decision to remove the facility and emphasised the need for this type of advice service in the town. In the 2011/12 financial year advisers at Bargate helped 2,123 people with more than 9,500 problems. Its volunteers were seeing 50-60 clients per week compared with 30-50 the previous year.
Councillor Martin Suthers, the Deputy Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council oversees the provision of funding to the CAB and many other voluntary organisations in his capacity as Chairman of the Grant Aid Sub-committee. The Council has been working with Newark & Sherwood District Council to tackle this issue and I am pleased that, as reported by the Newark Advertiser, there are now moves to open a new branch in the town. The CAB is looking to identify a suitable base and is examining the best methods of delivery.
More details of the service are expected to be confirmed in the near future.
History comes to life at Newark Castle
History came to life on Saturday 28th July when hundreds of visitors enjoyed medieval sword fights and musket firing mixed with World War II soldiers at Time Travel Trent Vale at Newark Castle. Organised by Nottinghamshire County Council, the event also allowed visitors to access areas of the castle not normally open to the general public, such as the deep dungeons and castle towers. Community archaeologists and volunteers were on hand to tell everyone who made the climb – up or down - the history of the castle.
Re-enactors and living history groups entertained the crowds and enthralled young and old alike with medieval combat and weaponry displays while medieval beggars provided a comic touch. Queen Victoria, along with her Private Secretary, was just one of the “time travellers” at this year’s event. Joining her were also English Civil War re-enactors who treated the crowd to an ear splitting musket firing demonstration.
The event was part of the Festival of British Archaeology, an annual celebration of the very best of British archaeology and the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership (TVLP) which aims to conserve, enhance and celebrate the cultural identity of the Trent Vale between Newark and Gainsborough
Council care homes to be refurbished
Proposals for a £600,000 refurbishment programme of Nottinghamshire County Council’s six residential care homes were agreed at the Adult Social and Health Committee on Monday 2nd July.
The homes are:
- Bishops Court, Boughton Ollerton
- James Hince Court, Carlton-in-Lindrick
- Kirklands, Kirkby-in-Ashfield
- Leiver’s Court, Arnold
- St Michael’s View, Retford
- Woods Court, Newark
The Council agreed to continue to operate the six care homes last September to provide long term care, short term care and also respite care to support carers.
Innovation centres helping to create jobs
As Chairman of the Economic Development Committee and Nottinghamshire County Council's Business Engagement Champion, I'm delighted to report that more than 50 new jobs have been created at Nottinghamshire's three innovation centres in the last year. Despite the recession, the number of people employed by tenant businesses at Mansfield iCentre, Newark Beacon and Worksop Turbine increased from 345 in May 2011 to 399 in May 2012.
The largest increase in jobs - 34 - was at Worksop Turbine, with an additional 15 at Mansfield iCentre and four at Newark Beacon. The number of tenant businesses also increased at the three centres in the same period - from 83 to 90 - which contributed to an increase in the occupancy level across the three centres, from 71% to 72.7%.
Five businesses 'graduated' after out-growing the innovation centres and moving into their own newly purchased or leased premises - often creating further new jobs in the process. The innovation centres are owned by Nottinghamshire County Council, the respective district council in each area and the Homes and Communities Agency. Oxford Innovation Ltd was appointed on a five year contract to run the centres on their behalf in March last year.
As well as providing high quality accommodation and support for fledgling businesses, the innovation centres are helping to kick start the economy in Notts by encouraging the creation of high value jobs. Innovation centre companies benefit from free business support high-spec accommodation, modern telephony and IT facilities, access to meeting and conference facilities, on site cafes and, for Mansfield iCentre, an on-site nursery.
The centres particularly aim to nurture new and innovative knowledge-based businesses, which in turn bring higher-skilled and better paid jobs in parts of the county where skill levels and wages are traditionally low.
We took the decision to combine the management of Nottinghamshire three innovation centres last year, which is really reaping rewards for the economy in North Nottinghamshire. I am delighted how the innovation centres have progressed in the last 12 months, which is remarkable against the backdrop of a recession.
For further information about Nottinghamshire's innovation centres, contact:
Mansfield iCentre - 01623 600 600, web: www.mansfield-icentre.co.uk
Newark Beacon - 01636 653 100, web: www.newark-beacon.co.uk
Worksop Turbine - 01909 512 100, web: www.worksop-turbine.co.uk
Tremendous response so far to broadband campaign
As Chairman of the Economic Development Committee I'm delighted to report that more than 1,000 Notts residents and businesses have backed calls to improve broadband speeds in the county in just three weeks.
Nottinghamshire County Council launched its 'Superfast Broadband in Notts' campaign on 6 July. It aims to bring faster speeds to the estimated 116,000 homes and businesses which are still lagging behind with painfully slow or no broadband at all.
Since then, the County Council has been inundated with pledges of support and stories about how
Council adopts a committee system
Part of the £50m Asda supermarket development on the town’s Potterdyke car park, the new state-of-the-art bus station is fully enclosed and boasts digital information screens, seating, CCTV for added security, toilets, baby changing area, vending machines and a staffed information point.
The new building is jointly owned by Nottinghamshire County Council – which will operate the bus station – and Newark and Sherwood District Council. Both worked alongside Asda on its development.
It has been estimated that there will be around 2,000 bus arrivals and departures a week – with around 25,000 passenger arrivals and departures over the same period.
The new bus station provides a welcoming first impression for anyone arriving in Newark by bus and I am confident that anyone using the new bus station will be impressed by the modern, first-rate facilities it offers. As joint owner of the facility, we are delighted to see it open and become available to residents of Newark and Sherwood. It is a significant part of the regeneration of this part of Newark town centre which will help to maximise the area’s economic potential.
Newark job fair
Newark residents seeking employment were able to attend a jobs fair on Thursday 10th November, where employers were on hand to discuss seasonal and permanent job vacancies and support agencies were available to offer careers, CV and interview advice along with information on volunteering and apprentice opportunities.
The event took place at the Palace Theatre at Appletongate in Newark and was organised by Nottinghamshire County Council (Making the Connection) and Newark & Sherwood District Council in partnership with Newark Jobcentre Plus and Futures Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
As Nottinghamshire County Council's Business Champion I welcome these events, especially at a time of local and national financial strain.
£2.5 million boost for Supporting People
Despite local budget pressures and a reduced grant from central Government, Nottinghamshire County Council has invested an extra £2.5 million in its Supporting People programme.
Supporting People is a national programme that provides housing related support to help vulnerable people live independently. It will see its Government grant in Nottinghamshire reduced to £17.6 million this year, threatening the County Council’s previous year’s Supporting People spend of £22.5 million.
However, thanks to a new £1.5 million investment from the local NHS, plus a further £1 million diverted from the County Council budget, the Government’s allocation has been given a vital boost in Nottinghamshire. This limits the reduction in the County’s Supporting People budget to just over 10%, from £22.5 million to £20.11 million. The restricted budget reduction has also been made possible by the County Council’s decision early this year, following public consultation, to keep its savings on Supporting People to £10 million over the next three years rather than two higher reduction options of £12.5 million and £15 million.
These funding measures support feedback gained from a second, two-month public consultation on Supporting People services this year (in Feb/March), to form new proposals which went before Full Council on 30th June 2011. These proposals ensure that:-
- Most accommodation based services continue to be funded, albeit at reduced levels;
- ‘Floating support’ services, which offer support to people in their own homes, will be delivered consistently across issues of homelessness prevention and offender, drug and alcohol, gypsy and traveller and young people’s services;
- Mental health services are reviewed and delivered more efficiently;
- Young people’s services are reviewed for greater efficiency;
- Community alarm and warden services for older people are replaced with a new short term service targeted at helping vulnerable people to remain independent in their own homes.
We’ve talked to those who use the services, to our District Council partners, to project providers and voluntary and community groups, including church leaders, to find ways to make savings through efficiencies. We will target the money at front line services that meet the needs of those who are most vulnerable and in greatest need.
Nottinghamshire was successful in securing Government money under Supporting People when the programme first started eight years ago but we’ve seen this central funding steadily fall by nearly £11 million since that time. We believe that after the £10 million savings have been made, the level of funding in Nottinghamshire for these services will still compare well with other Council areas.
Newark Civil War Trail
As reported by the Newark Advertiser, a heritage trail has proved so popular that 15,000 more information leaflets have been printed for visitors, paid for by Nottinghamshire County Council through the Newark Town Partnership.
The leaflets, a guide to the Newark Civil War Trail, were relaunched at the Gilstrap Centre, Castlegate, Newark.
The trail takes in sites of importance in the English Civil War, including Newark Castle, the Parish Church and The Wharf. The route can also be extended to include the Queen’s Sconce at Sconce and Devon Park.
A picture of the Woolpack pub, on Stodman Street, has been updated to one of its replacement, The Prince Rupert.
I think this is a fantastic example of work to highlight the better parts of Newark, and a very worthwhile project.
Business Engagement Champion
As Chairman of the Nottinghamshire Business Engagement Group, I am pleased to have been appointed as the county's Business Engagement Champion. My role is to ensure that Nottinghamshire County Council works wherever possible to support and promote local businesses, both large and small.
I am happy to attend business club meetings and other business gathering throughout Nottinghamshire, indeed wherever you feel my presence as Deputy Cabinet Member for Culture & Community and spokesman on regeneration may be of assistance.