As Councillors, we still get people contacting us about what many still call council houses. But sadly, NELC’s stock of properties were given away to Shoreline years ago. Indeed, Shoreline has since become part of Lincolnshire Housing Partnership, with no council representation on its management board.
There is a similar situation with regarding schools. Yes, some at primary level remain under our remit. But all secondary schools have become academies, lessening the impact we can have as to their operation. Some academies have come under fire at council for their exclusion policy, yet there is little we can practically do to try and resolve any issues.
Many will also remember the days when local buses were operated by Grimsby- Cleethorpes transport, a joint undertaking of the two councils now covered by the North East Lincolnshire area. But the bus company was sold in the 1990s to Stagecoach, a publicly listed firm on the stock exchange.
So, its prime responsibility is to shareholders, and not those of us who regularly use the bus. We don’t even have a local phone number to complain to!
In London however public transport comes under the remit of Transport for London and the democratically elected Mayor. And something similar is happening in Greater Manchester thanks to Labour’s own Andy Burnham.
That therefore is a realistic option for the future, as is the building of more council housing purely for rent. I say the latter deliberately as so much cheap new build is bought up by private investors, reducing the chance of first-time buyers ever getting on the housing ladder.
As for academies, we need to have a serious discussion as to their future, and whether a greater local authority input is needed.
Never mind loose talk of devolution and costly local government reorganisation, what we want is a transfer of power back to our existing Town Halls and therefore the voters who elect us.
Rest assured Labour is seriously thinking about what it can do in the days and years to come.