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Quality Street boxes have been offering a lot less for a lot more over time.

Festive fun with fickle finances

It’s Christmas week, and time to re-assess our budgets, post presents damage. Speaking of gifts, you may have noticed, the cost of chocolate has gone up, while the size of the treat reduces - look at the size of Christmas tins of Quality Street for example, 750g to 720g this year alone.

But if you’re looking to get one of those tins for a friend or family at Christmas, you want to give the most choccy for the best price - something becoming incredibly difficult these days.

How long will it be before we stop spending in areas once deemed traditions, and, back to budget assessments, how long before residents can give no more tax to local authorities?

Two more councils have proposed rises this week, and several councils are looking at their tax bases as they prepare their budget for the coming year.

Councillors at both South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council are among those to have agreed a rise in their parts of the tax bill this week - the former by 2.91% and the latter agreeing a 4.95% rise

The trouble for many people is they won’t be the only ones looking at the option to up their budget with taxation, with police, fire and other districts and parishes also needing more money as Central Government presents them with “fun size” chunks of cash instead.

Councillors at LCC noted as they passed the increase: Residents can't reach much deeper into their purses.

And on that cheery note, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. — DANIEL JAINES

A People's Vote: Trouble or Inevitable?

A second referendum has been called for by some to break the deadlock over the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement.

Another vote on the terms of the UK’s deal with the European Union seemed like a pipe dream following the 2016 referendum, particularly in Lincolnshire where leave dominated the majority of the county.

But, now the prospect is on the tip of many elected officials tongues as parliament struggles with Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.

From the corridors of Whitehall to the county council offices, discussion over another vote can be heard.

Those who reject a second referendum on every ground, such as the county council’s economy chief, Colin Davie, warn how “dangerous and divisive” the move would be.

Going back to the British public to give them a vote on the terms of the deal would bring “trouble”, warned Councillor Davie.

It’s perhaps not surprising to hear Brexiteers issuing stark warnings, but the unease surrounding a People’s Vote is echoed even by those who support it.

City of Lincoln Council leader, Ric Metcalfe, said he “would not object” to another referendum and added that the prospect will be inevitable if parliament cannot agree a deal.

But he was quick to point out that people will have “qualms” with having to go to the polls again.

This is understandable, should Theresa May opt to go back to the public with her deal it will be the fourth time since 2015 that the electorate have gone to the polls.

You can expect groans from parts of the UK at the news, no matter how enthusiastic or opposed you are to another vote.

Both Councillor Metcalfe and Davie were to some extent uneasy about another referendum, but made their positions clear on the matter.

But more importantly, parliament has yet to tackle the subject.

If come January the withdrawal agreement is not passed, you can bet they will be next to wrestle with the prospect— CALVIN ROBINSON

MEET THE LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTERS

Calvin Robinson

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Daniel Jaines

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MORE COVERAGE THIS WEEK

  • Following last week's lead article on Brexit standing in the way of clarifying council's finances, Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, has revealed the government's settlement. Council leaders said they were not surprised by the announcement, but a senior county councillor went further with his criticism. Colin Davie, cabinet member for economy, described the settlement as a "sticking plaster". The funds did not go far enough for Councillor Davie and he called for a long term solution. Uncertain times for councils— CR
  • Another blow for the trust which runs Lincolnshire's hospitals, the Unite Union has passed a 'no confidence' vote in health bosses. Union bosses said they were concerned about patient safety and called on regulators to pay another visit to the trust. Will there ever be light at the end of the tunnel for ULHT? - CR
  • Campaigners are not giving up the fight against an oil well in Biscathorpe. Egdon Resources (yes, them again), have already secured rights to continue drilling near the village. But the fight goes on for demonstrators who took the site again this past week. No sleep for Egdon, they now have opposition in the north and south of the county - CR
  • East Lindsey District Council have approved the first phase of their Skegness Foreshore Masterplan. The new design code will begin by seeing £300,000 invested in Tower Esplanade including new lighting and pedestrianisation, as well as a return to the town’s historic colour scheme of green and cream. Longer term ideas include an iconic tower structure. - DJ
  • Parking charges are set to change across Grimsby and Cleethorpes as councillors look to balance the budget to help with maintenance and encourage people back to the high street. The authority will see some of the underused parks drop their charge, while those used more often will go up in price. - DJ
  • North Kesteven District Council is set to trial a pilot Voter ID scheme during next years elections. It will see those wanting to vote need to present acceptable proof of identity during the General Election in a bid to safeguard against electoral fraud. - DJ

ON THE AGENDA

January 2, 2019

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