Melton’s newly-elected councillors focus on health, roads and jobs
Improving health services, increasing employment opportunities and solving traffic issues are some of the main focuses for the newly-elected county councillors in the four Melton area divisions.
When the results of Thursday’s elections were announced on Friday, the Conservative Party retained all of the local seats, as well as overall control of the council.
Pam Posnett (Melton East) and Joe Orson (Melton Wolds) have already served 28 years between them at County Hall.
But the other two elected are new to local government - Mark Frisby in Melton West and Bryan Lovegrove in the Belvoir division.
We’ve been speaking to all four of the councillors this week to get an idea on the issues they intend to tackle over the next four years.
Mark Frisby, who finished more than 800 votes ahead of Labour candidate Pip Allnatt, has lived his entire life in the town, having grown up on the Wimpey Estate.
He said: “It might be something of a refreshing change for a lad off the estate with no political aspirations to be serving on the council.”
Mark (50) studied at Brooksby Melton College and went on to teach drama there.
He works for a not-for-profit organisation called Acces All Areas CIC which helps young people find employment and this will also be a focus with his council work.
“We used to have quite a few factories and small businesses that would happily give employment to young people who didn’t necessarily have the right skill set,” said Mark.
“It would be amazing in my term of office if I could do anything at all to attract a big organisation to come to Melton, like Amazon.
“That would hoover up a lot of the low level skilled people who are looking for work locally.
“We’ve got to avoid Melton becoming a dormer town where people just come home to go to bed and then and spend all their money in Leicester, Peterborough or Nottingham, where they are working.
“We need people to work in Melton, shop in Melton and help the economy here.”
The new representative for Melton West is also keen to improve health services in the town and is a big supporter of the campaign to get a second GP surgery in the town.
“We need multiple healthcare centres and women should be able to have babies in the town,” he said.
“It’s also catastrophic that if I broke my arm I would have to go to Leicester A&E to get an X-ray and sit there for 12 hours.
“I can’t work out why we’ve got this beautiful hospital on Thorpe Road which isn’t resourced to do that.”
Bryan Lovegrove will be covering a whopping 32 villages in his work as member for Belvoir division.
He succeeds Byron Rhodes, who had represented the area at County Hall since 1997 before retiring from local government ahead of this poll.
And Bryan expects to be addressing continuing concerns to do with speeding on rural roads and other traffic issues.
He said: “Speaking to Byron, he said that the biggest thing in his mail bag was concerns from people in the area over speeding.
“You have Waltham on the Wolds, which is a small rural village with the main road running right through it, past the church, the pub and the school, and so that is a major issue for them.
“But in other villages it’s cars parked on the side of the road because there is no residential parking and so it blocks villages up.
“Even though it’s a rural area, some people have issues with tractors and trailers, particularly at harvest time when they are working all hours, so it’s about finding a happy medium.”
Bryan (60) lives in Long Clawson and previously resided in Thorpe Arnold.
He worked on the family farm when he was younger and says he is ideally placed to represent the views of people in the countryside.
“I still represent young farmers, I am East Midlands area president and national vice-president,” said Bryan.
“I was NFU chairman for the local branch when foot and mouth hit the Melton area so that was a very busy time for me.
“I am currently self-employed and have worked for organisations and associations which are connected with farming and the countryside.”
He also takes a keen interest in education having successfully led a campaign to raise the age of children attending Belvoir High School (now Priory Belvoir Academy) to 16 to enable them to continue their studies through to exams. The age range was also raised at other schools in the borough as a result.
Pam Posnett, who has been on the county council since 2009, retained her Melton East seat by more than 1,000 votes.
She served as chair at County Hall for the last two years but will not stand again.
Pam who said she was ‘very pleased’ with the election result, expects her focus to be on issues such as roads, the economy and healthcare.
She said: “People have got concerns about speeding traffic in the town.
“It’s not just Norfolk Drive being used as a rat run to get onto Leicester Road but generally people living adjacent to main roads feel that drivers are not adhering to speed limits.
“Coming out of lockdown and having more traffic on the roads again has focused their minds on this issue.”
She has seen the town grow over recent decades and feels that residents are concerned that the infrastructure is not there to support it.
“With more houses being built people are concerned about the impact on our local services,” said Pam.
“A lot of the comments I get are around the need for another GP surgery and also education, that we haven’t got enough school places for our children.
Building the economy is another priority for Pam, who is also a long-serving member of Melton Borough Council.
“People talk about the loss of shops they enjoyed going to and we need to think what we can do to attract new ones to the town,” she added.
Joe Orson, who retained his Melton Wolds seat, will extend his County Hall service to 20 years when he ends the new term of office.
His division covers a vast swathe of villages, including Wymondham, Edmonthorpe, Stapleford, Saxby, Wyfordby, Burton Lazars, Pickwell, Barsby, Gaddesby. Asfordby, Frisby, Old Dalby, Holwell and Ab Kettleby.
After finishing almost 2,000 votes ahead of his nearest challenger, he said: “I am absolutely delighted.
“It was a four-way contest and to get two-thirds of the vote I am more than happy and content.
“It is a challenge to represent a massive area which I am told is the largest geographical division in Leicestershire but I am looking forward to the next four years.”
Joe, who is also leader of Melton Borough Council, is keen to see the partial bypass, the MMDR delivered in the next couple of years and a second GP surgery being built in the town.
He will also be campaigning to enable the county council to have new powers to enforce the 7.5 tonne weght restriction on rural roads.
“County Hall already has some enforcement powers, such as trading standards, so I want to lobby our MPs for a change to allow the county council to enforce the weight limit,” explained Joe.
“There are HGVs that take short cuts on roads which are not really fit for them.
“But these new powers wouldn’t stop lorry deliveries to farms and rural businesses, of course.”
l The turnouts in the Melton divisions were disappointing with only a quarter of residents turning out in Melton West (25.84 per cent) and fewer than 40 per cent voting in the other three.